The California Department of Insurance recently cracked down on an
insurance company that has been overcharging motorists, including men
and women serving in the military, for 15 years.

 That same company,
Los Angeles-based Mercury Insurance, is bankrolling Proposition 17 on
the June ballot. Mercury wants you to trust it when it says that its
measure will save everyone money.

When was the last time an insurance company spent $14 million on a ballot initiative to lower your rates?

In fact, Mercury’s Proposition 17 gives insurance companies the power to raise rates on millions of responsible Californians, which is why you should vote no.

This deceptively written initiative allows insurance companies to
surcharge people who have not been previously insured – even if they
are perfect drivers but weren’t insured because they weren’t driving or
didn’t own a car. Proposition 17 also penalizes anyone who had to drop
coverage for more than 90 days over the last five years, or missed a
single insurance payment.

These surcharges are illegal in California today: the voters banned
them in 1988 because the higher rates led to more uninsured motorists
on the road.

In states that have laws similar to Proposition 17, the surcharges can
raise the price of car insurance by 200% or more – adding thousands of
dollars to the annual cost of insurance.

We must stop Prop 17 because if it passes, it will allow insurance
companies to punish law-abiding citizens who have done nothing wrong:
seniors who stopped driving for a period of time while recovering from
surgery, for example. Ditto for college students who don’t need a car
until the summer.

Proposition 17 would even punish Californians who serve in the military
stateside and must interrupt their coverage while in boot camp.  Jon
Soltz, the chair of, strongly opposes Prop 17 as does
USAA, the national auto insurance company formed to insure members of
the military. USAA says it cannot support Prop 17 because it will
penalize active duty service members defending our country.

We’ll all pay more than we should under 17, because when insurance
company boost rates, more drivers will go uninsured. When they get into
accidents, premiums go up for everyone else.

Californians are rightly suspicious when big corporations try to
manipulate the initiative process for their own self-interest. In the
case of Proposition 17, its sponsor, Mercury Insurance, has proved it
cannot be trusted.

Arguments about Prop 17 made by Mercury and its paid spokespeople have
been repeatedly reviewed and rejected as false by the courts and state

And just last month, the Insurance Commissioner brought an
administrative lawsuit against Mercury alleging that it engaged in more
than 50 practices that are illegal under California law, victimizing
thousands of Californians. Investigators discovered that Mercury failed
to give customers the discounts they were entitled to and overcharged
people just because they are self-employed, work out of their homes, or
had health problems. The company even broke its own previous pledges to
regulators that it would stop violating California laws. The company
faces tens of millions of dollars in fines.

Mercury Insurance’s sponsorship of Proposition 17 is like Bernie Madoff
backing a ballot proposition claiming to protect investors.

Nearly every newspaper in California – including The Sacramento Bee,
Los Angeles Times, San Francisco Chronicle, San Diego Union Tribune and
San Jose Mercury News – has weighed in against Prop 17.  The last thing
California families can afford right now is an initiative that makes
insurance companies less accountable for their actions, leads to more
uninsured motorists and skyrocketing auto insurance premiums. That’s
why veterans groups, seniors and Consumers Union, the non-profit
publisher of Consumer Reports magazine, all agree: Vote no on
Proposition 17.