The 1988 Proposition 103 has saved California consumers more than $100 billion in excessive auto insurance premiums since voters passed it by a slim 51-49 percent margin, probably the reason for an unrelenting legal onslaught by the insurance industry.
No one has calculated the accompanying savings in prices for homeowners insurance and other property coverage, but they’ve also been substantial.
The brainchild of longtime consumer advocate Ralph Nader and his onetime California protégé Harvey Rosenfield, Prop. 103 is the rare initiative that keeps living up to its original promise — saving consumers and businesses about 20 percent of what they would otherwise spend on car insurance and property coverage.
It consistently makes reality of the pledge that spurred insurance companies to spend $63 million trying to beat it at the polls.
The latest corporate challenge to this most money-saving of all ballot initiatives ever passed anywhere in America was beaten back the other day by Rosenfield, a three-judge panel of Sacramento’s Third District state Court of Appeals and the state Supreme Court.
In this latest case, the state’s high court let stand a Court of Appeals decision rebuffing the latest legal assault by industry kingpins including State Farm, Mercury, Allstate Farmers and other insurance companies seeking to raise rates significantly above what Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones had ruled justifiable.
So laughable did judges find the industry arguments for their putative price increases that the three-judge appeals court panel considering the case called it “hocus pocus” and “smoke and mirrors — nothing more.” The companies sought about $250 million more than Jones allowed. His authority to oversee such rate increases also comes entirely from Proposition 103.
“This latest challenge to 103 came after the state Supreme Court two other times upheld 103 and its rules for rate approvals,” said Rosenfield, who continues to fight the…