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Los Angeles, CA ---  A front page story in the New York Times about hundreds of thousands Californians who have been unemployed long term brings into focus the faces of Californians who will be unfairly surcharged under insurance-industry based Prop 33, said Consumer Watchdog Campaign, which is fighting the ballot measure.

Prop 33 gives auto insurance companies the power to raise rates on good drivers who have let their auto insurance lapse, even if the reason is that they have stopped driving.  The initiative exempts from the surcharges those unemployed for 18 months, but today’s New York Times report shows that an increasing number of Californians have been unemployed for longer than that, many exceeding their 99 weeks of unemployment benefits, and explores their frustrations.

Read the New York Times story here: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/17/us/unemployment-depths-seen-in-california-peer-group.html.

Prop 33 is being financed single-handedly by insurance billionaire George Joseph, founder of Mercury Insurance. He seeks to rollback a ban on the use of prior insurance history in auto insurance pricing that has been in effect since voters enacted it in 1988.

“Prop 33 is an attack by an insurance billionaire on long term unemployed families who are doing nothing wrong, but simply trying to save every dollar they have by deciding not to drive and not to spend money on auto insurance,” said Jamie Court, a director of Consumer Watchdog Campaign.  “Prop 33 is an initiative that targets good drivers who, due to no fault of their own, have fallen down on their luck and have to choose between rent and driving.  Mr. Joseph should read today’s New York Times and be ashamed that these are the families that his Proposition 33 will target for large rate hikes when they re-enter the auto insurance market after a decision not to drive for a period of time.”

This is the second time in two years that Mercury Insurance's founder has gone to voters with the change in insurance price setting. Voters rejected Prop 17, a nearly identical initiative, in 2010.

Last week two courts rejected Prop 33 backers' lawsuit to prevent the Attorney General's ballot summary and consumer advocates' statements from being published in the ballot pamphlet. The consumer advocates stated that Prop 33 deregulated auto insurance and would raise rates for good drivers.

For more information visit: www.StopProp33.org

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