Newport Beach, CA — Consumer Watchdog advocates delivered letters to, and picketed outside, the offices of Orange County Mercury Insurance agents whose "Agents Alliance" group is sponsoring Mercury Insurance's proposed ballot measure to repeal a key insurance consumer protection in California and raise car insurance rates for millions of Californians. Advocates confronted members of the Agents Alliance, the new front group for Mercury’s anti-consumer campaign, with a letter calling on the agents to withdraw the proposed ballot initiative.
Click here to read the letter: http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/sites/default/files/resources/agentsallianceletter.pdf
Watchdog advocates handed letters to former Alliance Board Members Yvonne Gambino, of Gambino and Wasson Insurance in Costa Mesa and Roger Stone of Roger Stone Insurance in Newport Beach. The former board members and current Mercury Insurance agents were confronted concerning their alliance with Mercury and its political campaigns.
"This attack on California consumers, especially at a time when so many Americans are just trying to stay financially afloat, is unacceptable and needs to be exposed. That is why we will be providing information to the public about your agency's involvement in this effort to raise premiums on motorists in the community and throughout the state," wrote Brian Stedge, an advocate with Consumer Watchdog. "It is an affront to people who might walk through your doors looking to buy insurance and fulfill their financial responsibility obligations that you have aligned yourself with Mercury's effort to dump consumer protections that have made insurance more accessible to California drivers for over 20 years."
The consumer advocates' arrival at Agents Alliance offices in Orange County follows Consumer Watchdog’s airplane banner blitz of the Mercury Insurance Open in Carlsbad. A plane towing the message "Don't Trust Mercury" flew over Center Court during the Finals match at the Mercury Insurance Tennis Open and a mobile billboard carrying the same message circled the La Costa resort in Carlsbad, CA near San Diego Sunday to expose the anti-consumer practices of tournament sponsor Mercury Insurance.
“The Agents Alliance has made their bed with a virulently anti-consumer insurance company and we are simply removing the sheets. Raising rates on hard working families, students, and seniors during a recession is just wrong. Informing the public of these agents’ anti-consumer actions is a necessary public service,” stated Brian Stedge a Consumer Watchdog Advocate.
Student advocate Cody Rosenfield added: “We are barnstorming the state to expose Mercury Insurance and its front group the Agents Alliance in their communities. Our message is simple; Don’t Trust Mercury Insurance, and we are going directly to these agents’ offices to inform their neighbors, friends, and customers of the truth: Mercury is trying to raise your rates.”
Consumer Watchdog Advocates plan on picketing all current and former Agent Alliance Board Members at their offices around the state. After handing the Agents Alliance members the letter, the advocates stood outside the office with a sign asking community members and customers:
“Why are Mercury Insurance and (Name of Agent) attacking California Consumer Protection laws?
To Raise Your Rates.
“As long as Mercury and its agents are attacking California consumer protection laws, Consumer Watchdog will work to inform voters of Mercury’s intentions. Over the coming weeks we will tour the state visiting members of the Agents Alliance to hold them accountable for their attack on consumer protections,” stated Brian Stedge, Consumer Watchdog Advocate.
Mercury At It Again – Wants To Repeal Consumer Protection Law Voters Defended in 2010
This Mercury Insurance initiative is virtually identical to 2010's Prop 17, which was defeated by voters. Mercury’s initiative would legalize surcharges by Mercury and other insurance companies that are now illegal under California's Proposition 103, approved by the voters in 1988. Prop 103, which has saved California motorists over $63 billion, bars insurance companies from considering a driver’s coverage history when a motorist applies for insurance.
Mercury hopes to fool voters, who weren't fooled in 2010, into believing that its planned initiative would create savings for consumers. But, according to Consumer Watchdog, the Mercury initiative would lead to surcharges of more than 40% for Californians who had a lapse in insurance coverage – even if they had not been driving or did not own a car.
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