Funded by Billionaire Auto Insurance Exec, Prop 33 Misleads Voters Over Rate Regulations

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Of the 11 propositions on this November’s ballot, Proposition 33 is one that you may have not heard too much about other than from the “YES on 33” campaigns. George Joseph, the billionaire chairman of Mercury Insurance has backed the proposition with over $16 million dollars of his own money, which is 99.5% percent of the total funds raised for the measure.

The ads funded by Joseph claim that if 33 passes, California drivers will save money every month by having the option to shop for insurance and will preserve discounted rates they get for having continuous insurance with the same company.

But, opponents of the proposition say it would actually penalize drivers who have had a lapse in coverage greater than 18 months, actually resulting in greater insurance rates for many Californians. Additionally, prop 33 is seemingly an updated version of a similar proposition, Prop 17, which failed in 2010.

If passed, this year’s auto insurance ballot measure will undo some effects of Proposition 103 which passed in 1988 and has saved California drivers $62 billion. Prop 103, authored by Harvey Rosenfeld, founder of Consumer Watchdog and former presidential candidate Ralph Nader, regulates and prevents insurance companies from offering discriminatory pricing premiums for car insurance based on the driver’s previous coverage and credit history.

Under 103, the primary factors which can determine the cost of a driver’s insurance rate are the annual miles driven, driving record and the number of years one has been driving. Those who have not had insurance for reasons such as a long period of unemployment, taking public transportation or a disability that prevented them from driving cannot currently be penalized by higher rates – Prop 33 would change that.

GUEST: Jamie Court, President of Consumer Watchdog

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