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In Praise of California

In November, 1988, the electorate in California approved Proposition 103 to prevent the massive increases in premiums that were affecting all consumers looking for insurance. After major litigation to decide whether the Proposition was constitutional, it was finally implemented in May 1989 and rapidly revolutionized the rates of insurance across the state which fell by an average of 45% between 1989 and 2001.

It is estimated that up to 2006, Californian drivers alone saved $62 billion on their auto insurance rates. Then the Consumer Watchdog combined with other socially active groups to force the insurance companies to abandon the practice of basing rates on the zip code and not your record as a driver. Now comes Assembly Bill 2800 which emerged from the Senate Appropriations Committee in August 2008. This is being treated as a slightly more controversial measure.

The auto insurance industry is campaigning to allow a switch to mileage and use as criteria for fixing the premiums. It estimates that this could produce further average savings in premiums of about $275 per vehicle. It would work by placing a small monitoring device in every vehicle to assess how far you drive in a year and how well you drive. But this device is viewed as an invasion into the privacy of drivers. As a compromise, the Insurance Commissioner suggests that drivers could allow the insurers to make regular checks on the odometer rather than allowing electronic collection and transmission of data.

If the electronic version of the plan does go ahead, it will allow companies to identify consistently low-risk drivers from the time of day they use the roads, the speed at which they drive and the distance they travel. Such drivers will receive the maximum discounts available. Those deemed more likely to have accidents from the way they drive will potentially pay more.

The current system allows drivers to report their own mileage. The industry standard is to offer discounts to drivers who do less than 10,000 miles per year. Obviously, there's a temptation in difficult economic times for drivers to underestimate their mileage to gain the discounts. It will help to save the planet because drivers who maintain a lower average speed use less gas and so produce less emissions. For once, the auto insurance industry would be helping to fight global warming which is very public-spirited it.

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posted by n.lestari @ 2:31:00 PM,

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