Presented by Douglas Heller Executive Director, Consumer Watchdog

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1 Presented by Douglas Heller Executive Director, Consumer Watchdog

2 Insurance Reform Page 2

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5 Page 5 February 4, 1999 E D I T O R I A L S Auto Insurance Reform for Poor A LL CALIFORNIA motorists are required to carry auto insurance, but more than 3 million drive uninsured, either dropping coverage as soon as their cars are registered or driving without registration. Most are flouting the law because they can t afford to comply. Insurance rates are astronomical in many urban areas. Take the ZIP Code area in South- Central Los Angeles, where the per capita income is $7,299 and the average premium for minimum coverage for drivers with good records is $1,882, according to state records cited by proponents of reform. Policies are cheaper in rural areas and suburbs, but that is little help to and places like it. The Legislature is expected to renew the mandatory auto insurance law before it expires in Sen. Martha Escutia (D-Whittier) argues that the extension should be accompanied by insurance reform. She has proposed a so-called lifeline insurance policy costing $300 a year for drivers with clean records and incomes under about $20,000. The liability limits would be only $10,000 per person and $20,000 per accident, but still enough to cover most accidents. Escutia s bill is at least a good starting point. The insurance industry opposes the measure, arguing that it is tantamount to a subsidy and would drive up the cost of auto insurance for everyone else. The bill s initiator, the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights, and backers respond that the policies would pay their own way and would eventually lower rates by reducing the ranks of uninsured drivers. Insurance Commissioner Chuck Quackenbush says he endorses the idea of low-cost coverage but does not favor Escutia s approach. His office says he will negotiate with insurers to reduce the cost of a basic policy 15% by restricting it to one driver for any car. No language for legislation has been proposed yet, but this notion would seem to pose a hardship for a large family or even a couple with one vehicle. It also apparently fails to diminish huge price differences among ZIP Code areas. The insurance commissioner and the insurance industry should by all means respond to Escutia s measure with detailed proposals of their own. But no one can argue that it s wise to push so many otherwise law-abiding drivers into criminality.

6 Page 6 For Immediate Release April 24, 2008 News Release Contact: Doug Heller (310) ext. 309 Carmen Balber ext. 324 $62 Billion Savings on Auto Insurance in California Since Voters Approved Insurance Reform Proposition 103 Twenty Years Ago, According to National Study Santa Monica, California California has the best automobile insurance regulation in the nation, with the slowest-growing premiums and one of the most competitive markets in the country, according to a state-by-state study the Consumer Federation of America released in Washington DC today. In 1988, California voters approved Proposition 103, which enacted the nation s toughest insurance reform. The report concludes that California stands out as a model of consumer protection: California drivers have saved $61.8 billion in auto insurance rates since enacting the strongest regulation in the nation, an average of $1670 per Californian; California is first among all states in holding down insurance premiums, with a 12.9 percent increase compared to an average national increase of 50 percent; California is the fourth most competitive auto insurance market in the nation; Completely unregulated Illinois ranks 44 th ; and Changes to auto insurance rules that will take effect this summer will continue to lower rates for good drivers. Twenty years ago, Californians got fed up with paying exorbitant insurance rates to feed the insatiable greed of the insurance industry, so they took matters into their own hands and passed Prop 103, said Harvey Rosenfield, author of Proposition 103. After two decades of fighting the insurance industry in court, the industry s political allies in Sacramento and their endless pressure on the Insurance Commissioner, Proposition 103 stands as a massive victory for people s pocketbooks. The full report compares insurance regulatory systems nationally and finds that prices increase for consumers as regulation gets weaker. The Consumer Federation of America press release is available at: and the full report can be downloaded at:

7 Page 7 Auto insurers fare as well as consumers in California, the report finds, with strong profits over the last ten years 10.1% and the fourth most competitive insurance market in the nation. The report highlights other unique aspects of California's regulatory scheme under Proposition 103 that make the state a national model. California is the only state to: Require that a person's driving record is the most important factor in determining rates; Fund consumer participation in the ratemaking process if they make a substantial contribution; and Completely repeal its antitrust exemption for automobile insurers California is also one of only three states to prohibit credit scoring as a factor in setting auto insurance rates, is among just eleven states with the highest seat belt laws, and is one of only four states to guarantee insurance to a good driver from the driver's insurer of choice. The report also highlights California s state of the art prior approval regulations that: require insurers to be transparent about how rates are developed; prohibit companies from passing on excessive costs including unjustifiable expenses, fines, and excessive executive salaries; and set standards to test the assumptions insurers make in setting rates. Consumer Federation of America argues against federal proposals to weaken state insurance regulation and replace it with looser federal oversight including recent recommendations by Treasury Secretary Paulson to allow insurers to choose whether to be regulated at the state or federal level. The Consumer Federation report concludes: Proposition 103 has been an enormous success from both a consumer and an industry perspective As Congress considers an optional federal charter that would allow insurers to offer coverage in California but be (poorly, if at all) regulated in Washington D.C., it should carefully consider the negative consequences of overriding the will of the voters of the nation s largest state and undermining the most effective system of insurance regulation in the country. Read the full report on the website of the Consumer Federation of America:

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