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As a San Diego County insurance broker who has spent a career dealing with auto insurance, I am dismayed at the lack of critical thinking surrounding Proposition 33, which will make auto insurance more competitive and give California drivers the same provisions enjoyed in 48 other states.
I sell auto policies for many companies, including from Mercury Insurance, whose founder, George Joseph, is determined to bring low-cost auto insurance and policies to Californians.
The central argument made by Prop. 33 opponents is this: a billionaire is spending his own money on this so it must be bad. That’s the best they’ve got? Joseph has already earned his money through integrity and hard work. I know him and can say he isn’t interested in adding to his wealth. He is 91 years old and wants to leave a positive legacy for his industry and California.
Prop. 33 makes sense for Californians when you strip away personal attacks and look at
• Prop. 33 will save Californians money on their auto insurance. Rates dropped from
1996 to 2002 when our state laws contained the same provisions now contained in Prop. 33 but which were later abolished. California has some of the highest rates in the nation.
• Prop. 33 restores consumer choice. It unchains them from their existing insurers and
gives them the ability to take their “persistency discounts” with them to a new insurer of their choice. In California you are rewarded with a “persistency” discount for following the law and purchasing car insurance. Yet unlike virtually every other state this discount only works in California if you stay with the same insurance company. Millions of California drivers are in essence hostages to their auto insurers. Prop. 33 empowers consumers to take the discount they have earned with one company to another company that they prefer due to price, service and other factors.
• Prop. 33 helps San Diego County’s military community. It extends the discount to all active military, rewarding the heroes while they are spending their lives doing their part for our country at home or overseas. This is why it is supported by all the major veterans groups, including the American Legion, the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), the American Legion, Vietnam Veterans of America and USAA, the highly respected provider of choice for men and women in uniform.
• Prop. 33 protects people whose policies have lapsed due to unemployment, illness or other factors. Consumers currently lose their discount on the day they stop making a payment. Prop. 33, however, would put safety valves in place. Those on hard times can miss a payment for 90 days for any reason and keep the discount. They can stop making a payment for up to 18 months if they have been laid off or furloughed and still keep the discount. If they miss payment for a year, Prop. 33 allows a proportional discount for each full year a person is insured. It also covers young people who have been on family policies.
• Prop. 33 preserves regulatory oversight of rates. While some insurance companies may
raise rates, those rate increases would be minimal and likely impact a sliver of the population. This is because California state law requires that all insurance rates must be approved by the Department of Insurance and the rates cannot be excessive and must be adequate.
• Prop. 33 means more insured drivers and safer streets. When Prop. 33 provisions were
on the books, the number of uninsured motorists dropped by half. This is why there is so much support from a wide range of law enforcement organizations, including the California Association of Highway Patrolmen.
I could attack the opponents, who have made nearly $6 million off the insurance industry under the guise of consumer advocacy. But elections should be about policy, not mudslinging. Local insurance agents like me are sponsoring the initiative because we want sell more insurance to more people — not fewer. With more competition rates go down and everyone can be insured.
Read the initiative for yourself. I did. That’s why I am voting yes on Prop. 33.
Robert Kipper lives in San Marcos.
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