Proposition 17, the Mercury Insurance Initiative, is facing criticism from those who argue that it will unfairly target drivers who have not had prior insurance and will inevitably increase the number of uninsured motorists. Campaign for Consumer Rights, a watchdog group opposing the initiative (they run the web site stopthesurcharge.org) wrote in a statement that appeared in the Insurance Journal: “Many of these people are those that can least afford to pay for insurance, or who already have high premiums caused by other rating factors. This discourages them from buying insurance, which may add to the number of uninsured motorists and ultimately drives up the cost of the uninsured motorist coverage for every insured.”
The group argues that insurance companies will also be able to raise rates for customers who have ever been canceled for missing one payment, even if they restarted their insurance immediately.
A group in support of the initiative is Californians for Fair Auto Insurance Rates or Cal-FAIR. Kathy Fairbanks, a spokesperson for Cal-FAIR, told the Insurance Journal, “Like a good driver discount, this ballot measure would reward more than 80 percent of responsible California drivers who maintain insurance coverage as required by law by making them eligible for a discount, even if they switch insurance companies.”
However, Calitics contributor Naomi Seligman points out that Fairbanks was hired by Mercury Insurance and that Cal-Fair is a front group that the insurance company funds for its campaign. Fairbanks actually works for a PR firm called Bicker, Castillo & Fairbanks.
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