Judge Rejects Mercury Insurance’s Lies; Voters Will Be Told of Prop 17 Car Insurance Surcharges


March 12th, 2010

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Contact: Douglas Heller, 310-480-4170; or Naomi Seligman, 310-617-4577

Judge Rejects Mercury Insurance’s Lies; Voters Will Be Told of Prop 17 Car Insurance Surcharges

Sacramento, CA – Judge Allen Sumner has upheld Attorney General Jerry Brown’s Official Title and Summary of Proposition 17, which warns the measure will allow car insurers to raise premiums.  The ruling means voters will learn in the ballot pamphlet that Prop 17 will allow insurance companies to raise rates on California drivers based on their history of buying auto insurance.

Attorneys for Mercury Insurance failed as it tried to convince the court to remove any reference to the insurance surcharges that Prop 17 will create.  Consumer advocates hailed the decision as a victory for voters, who will have the opportunity to cut through Mercury’s multi-million dollar campaign of lies and read a fair assessment of the insurance company’s initiative in the Voter Guide.

“When voters face the deceptive, multi-million dollar insurance company ad campaign for Prop 17, at least they’ll be able to turn to Attorney General Brown’s summary to learn the truth,” said consumer advocate Harvey Rosenfield who co-authored one of the ballot arguments against Prop 17.  “Now that the Judge has made it clear that Prop 17 lets insurance companies raise car insurance premiums, will the insurance company backers of Prop 17 stop lying about it?”

With the ruling, voters will read the following in the Official Title and Summary of Prop 17:

“Will allow insurance companies to increase cost of insurance to drivers who do not have a history of continuous insurance coverage.”

The Judge rejected Mercury’s attempt to strike out much of Prop 17 opponents’ ballot arguments. He did require two cosmetic changes to the arguments, so the main argument against 17 now includes the statement:

It punishes our troops, among others.  This initiative raises rates on Californians who stop their insurance, including military serving stateside.  Penalizing these drivers by forcing them to pay more when they restart their insurance is wrong.

The rebuttal argument was amended to read: “you will get hit with surcharges of up to $1,000/year.”

Proposition 17, which has been funded with $3.5 million from Mercury Insurance, would surcharge drivers, including soldiers and seniors, who have had a lapse in car insurance coverage for virtually any reason during the past five years.  Under the measure, people who stopped driving and didn’t need insurance for a time would be required to pay up to a thousand dollars more for insurance when they sought to restart coverage.  Currently, insurance companies are prohibited from imposing the surcharge in California.

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12 Responses to “Judge Rejects Mercury Insurance’s Lies; Voters Will Be Told of Prop 17 Car Insurance Surcharges”

  1. Rosa Luzuriaga says:

    We should encourage a fair business setting for everyone. People should be treated fairly by insurance companies. The fact that people are not insured for a period of time does NOT always constitute an increase in the risk for the insurer. This proposition would open a gate for abuse by insurers who can use it as a loophole to charge unreasonable fees.

  2. Des says:

    Because less people might be driving (because they lost their jobs due to all the cutbacks and layoffs), the insurance companies still want to bring in the same amount of revenue by OVERCHARGING other people, or those people who re-resume their insurance coverage. This kind of thinking is due to:

    Most of our economy is a false economy; and
    there are too many people in the world; and
    there are too many greedy businesses that are feeding off the poor; &
    people are too trusting of their “leaders”; and
    getting a career is not a well rounded education; and
    people are not being taught how to think anymore; and
    mental laziness is running rampant; and
    people want “freedom” without taking responsibility; and
    the MediCULT & pharmaceuticals have dulled peoples senses; and
    (which no one knows or is being GUIDED how to DO).

  3. Francis Hagan says:

    I don’t trust any insurance company “to do the right thing.”
    Mercury’s big lie is only the tip of the iceberg – the insurance-berg!
    Don’t be fooled by insurance phonies.

  4. f. seiden says:

    how did this prop.17 get on the ballot in the first place?

  5. John Hill says:

    Vote no on 17.

    Many people without current auto insurance are people who have just been cited and the courts and DMV have ordered them to go get insurance. That motorist is going to be an easy mark for an insurance company ripping them off even more than usual. That person has no free choice and calling that person a consumer is idiotic, they have to pay whatever the price is and they will pay that price. Mercury is spending millions to be able to exploit people in this desperate situation and to be legally able to put the screws into people like this.

    Is it illegal to let your insurance lapse and drive without insurance?

    Sure it is, but the penalties are levied by the courts and the DMV, NOT by private companies. Private companies are not to benefit from lawbreaking, either by themselves, or others.

    Vote no on 17.

  6. joe thomas says:

    isnt it the law to have insurance anyway-most people that are uninsured are by choice and not necessity-they still have their cable, big screens and i phones but if they mangle someone with their car they somehow thing it is someone elses problem-its about time-maybe the threat of huge increases will MAKE PEOPLE FOLLOW THE LAW

  7. needy mother says:

    Good point . You are absolutely right.

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