College Students Speak Out: No on Prop 33

Posted on 02 November 2012

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By Richard Holober
Consumer Federation of California

Leading college student newspapers editorials are urging a NO vote on Proposition 33, a measure that threatens graduating students with massive auto insurance rate surcharges.

A sampling of student opinion:

The Daily Guardian, UC San Diego:

Proposition 33 is another way for insurance companies to squeeze more money from drivers … This is especially bad for lower income people who don't have insurance yet or are inconsistent with their insurance … With this proposition, graduates will be forced to pay higher insurance, even if they're perfectly safe drivers.

UCLA Daily Bruin:

What proponents do not tell you about Proposition 33 is that new drivers or people who let their insurance lapse because they did not need to drive for a period of 90 days or more in the past five years, would have to pay a higher amount … These higher premiums would even be dealt to people who have perfect driving records but did not have insurance for an extended period of time because they were not driving. Additionally, the new discounts would be available for both good and bad drivers. For these reasons, this board urges voters to say "no" to Proposition 33.

The Daily Californian, UC Berkeley:

[T]here are many other reasons that someone may not have maintained continuous auto insurance coverage - Prop. 33 could easily jack up insurance rates for innocent customers … This idea was rejected in 2010 for good reason. It must be rejected again. Vote no on Prop. 33.

The Daily Nexus, UC Santa Barbara:

Proposition 33 is not intended to benefit consumers but to ensure future profits for insurance conglomerates at the expense of the downtrodden.

Opinion writers at college newspapers also point out the harm that Prop 33 would cause:

The Poly Post, Cal Poly Pomona:

"Prop. 33 ensures optimal profit for auto insurers" by Lindsay Floyd:

It sets consumers at a clear disadvantage and at risk of being abused by profit oriented insurance companies … Californians should vote no on Proposition 33 …The offering of a discount is purely meant to lure consumers into voting yes and into these bigger insurance agencies' offices. But the reduced prices are a myth and, in reality, the discounts will be on customer satisfaction.

Spartan Daily, San Jose State University:

"Proposition 33" by Dennis Biles:

This measure looks enticing at first glance (who doesn't want the freedom to switch carriers and still save money?) but when you really think about it, the fact is that insurance companies don't exist to save us money. Their only goal is to maximize profits. When you throw in the fact that the main funding contributor to this measure is the founder of Mercury Insurance, George Joseph, it raises suspicion.

Sonoma State Star, Sonoma State University:

"A closer look at California's initiatives" by Noah Tenney:

Prop 33 says it will offer discounts to California drivers when they switch insurance companies, but Mercury Insurance Corp CEO George Joseph has mainly written it to enrich himself, while for drivers it could actually be more costly (especially to college graduates who dropped their coverage), so a no vote from me.

As a parent of a college student, I worry about the difficult economy my son will encounter when he graduates next year. Living in rental housing in Isla Vista, near UC Santa Barbara for the past three years, he relies on a bicycle as his means of daily transportation.

When he graduates he faces the daunting task of finding a job in a lingering recession that has hit young people especially hard. He will need to buy a car to get to work. He already will pay higher insurance premiums because as a younger driver he has fewer years of driving history (years of driving experience is a valid and required risk factor under California law). He is a good driver and it's unfair to add an additional surcharge that could reach 30% or more onto his insurance simply because he has lived off campus in a bicycle friendly community, avoiding the costs of car ownership to save on expenses while at college.

Add the fact that salaries for graduating students are down, many college grads have no choice but to work in part time or temp jobs that seem to go on forever, and throw in student loan debt that is crushing many graduates; the additional cost of insurance should Prop 33 pass becomes another burden on young people that deserve a break, not a rate hike to make insurance billionaire George Joseph even richer.

Voting No on Proposition 33 sends a loud message that we won't let a billionaire buy himself a law to line his pocket at the expense of graduating students and millions of California consumers.

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Richard Holober is the Executive Director of the non-profit Consumer Federation of California, a leading consumer advocacy organization.