Mercury Insurance: What won’t be mentioned at the Wednesday press conference

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Mercury Insurance is holding a press conference Wednesday with California Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner to announce  rate decreases for drivers, homeowners and renters.  As the LA Times reports

The auto rate reductions were based partially on new state criteria
[implementing Proposition 103] that downplay the importance of the ZIP Code where a car is typically
parked overnight. The cut took effect in May but had not been
announced, the department said.

Mercury Chairman George Joseph
and California Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner have scheduled a
news conference in Los Angeles this morning to announce the rate cuts

What Mercury’s Chairman won’t be talking about, however, is that the company is sponsoring legislation in Sacramento that would gut Proposition 103’s consumer protections that led to these savings and make it impossible for customers to get refunds from companies if they break the law or refuse to lower rates when they’re supposed to.  The bill — AB 1051 — is authored by Los Angeles Assemblyman Charles Calderon, who has accepted about $7,850 in campaign contributions from Mercury Insurance over the last 2+ years.  

As we explain in our letter of opposition, the bill would destroy Proposition 103’s protection against "unfair discrimination," like the kind that is forcing Mercury to sell insurance at fair rates to good drivers no matter where they live.  It would also stop the Insurance Commissioner or the courts from ordering refunds from an insurer when they have broken the law, something Mercury itself has been forced to do as recently as earlier this year.

I’m guessing that doesn’t come up tomorrow.  It’s too bad, because it seems like a perfect opportunity for Insurance Commissioner Poizner to tell George Joseph that his Department is opposing Mercury’s bill, too.

Consumer Watchdog
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