As a student at the University of San Francisco, I find like many San Franciscans that living in the city means I don't need a car. Even if I wanted a car, USF doesn't allow us to have them on campus. With tuition going up every year, auto insurance is an extra expense I don't need, so I'm thinking of canceling my insurance.
But if Proposition 33 passes and I cancel my auto insurance now, I'll have to pay higher rates when I graduate and need a car to commute to a new job.
Prop. 33 makes anyone who drops their auto insurance coverage for almost any reason pay more, even if the reason is that we aren't driving.
I'm a careful driver with a good driving record, yet I already pay extra for insurance because I have less experience than older drivers. Why should I pay another 40 percent just because I stopped driving to help save money for college? That's how much the insurance company behind Prop. 33 increased insurance rates when it got caught illegally surcharging Californians who didn't have prior insurance.
The backers of Prop. 33 want you to believe that they put an initiative on the ballot to give you a discount for buying insurance. Don't buy it.
One insurance industry executive, George Joseph, the chairman of Mercury Insurance, donated 99 percent of the money for the Prop. 33 campaign.
But when has an insurance industry billionaire spent $8 million on a ballot measure to save you or me money?
Here's what's really going on. Car insurance companies used to charge more, or refuse to sell insurance at all, to drivers who didn't already have insurance. Twenty-four years ago, voters passed an initiative called Proposition 103 to outlaw that kind of unfair pricing.
Prop. 33 would turn back the clock on those consumer protections.
Californians who drop their insurance to recover from a serious illness or injury, the long-term unemployed who lost their jobs in this recession, and workers who commute on public transit will all pay more for car insurance when they need to get back behind the wheel.
All drivers will be hurt, because charging higher prices to people who don't already have insurance means more drivers will go uninsured because they can't afford coverage. That increases uninsured motorist premiums for everyone.
If you're feeling some deja vu, it's because we've seen this trickery before. Two years ago, Joseph's Mercury Insurance company spent $16 million on an almost identical ballot initiative called Proposition 17. Voters rejected that measure, but this insurance billionaire isn't taking no for an answer.
Californians should ask why – is it really to save you money?
Kelsey Craven is a University of San Francisco sophomore and a volunteer with the Stop Prop 33 campaign. More info at StopProp33.org.