Insurers sue Calif. over new auto rules

Published on

Associated Press

SACRAMENTO, CA — A group of auto insurance companies filed a lawsuit against state Insurance Commissioner John Garamendi over new rules that would base premiums on drivers’ records instead of where they live.

Three insurance lobbying groups, the American Insurance Association, Association of California Insurance Companies and Personal Insurance Federation of California, filed suit Wednesday in Sacramento Superior Court, just days after the state office of administrative law approved the regulations.

The groups said they cover more than 90 percent of the state’s insured drivers.

Garamendi has pushed for the changes to comply with Proposition 103, an initiative passed by voters in 1988 that required rates be primarily tied to a driver’s record, number of years licensed and annual mileage, rather than the ZIP code where a vehicle is registered.

Sam Sorich, president of the Association of California Insurance Companies, said voters agreed rates should be based “in a manner that fairly reflects the risk of loss.”

“We believe that what the commissioner’s proposed is completely contrary to what the voters proposed,” Sorich said Thursday. “It’s going to be up to the judge and the courts to decide this issue and really, it’s the American way.”

Consumer groups decried the lawsuit as an effort by the insurance industry to avoid long-awaited reforms that will save customers money.

“We will fight to ensure that this anti-consumer lawsuit does not stop the savings that good drivers have been waiting nearly two decades to receive,” said Douglas Heller, executive director of the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights. “With auto insurers coming off the most profitable year in a generation, customers should view with contempt any insurance company that joins this lawsuit.”

Consumer Watchdog
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