By Bob Kipper, Vietnam War veteran and owner, KIAC Insurance Agency, San Marcos
Editor’s note: Last week we ran an article titled “Prop 17 would hurt veterans and consumers, experts warn.” The Yes on Prop 17 campaign has responded by submitting the editorial below.
June 2, 2010 (San Diego) -- I have been an insurance agent for 23 years in San Diego County. My customers include retired and active military personnel, including those stationed at Camp Pendleton, Miramar Air Station and Point Loma Naval Base. I am also a Vietnam War veteran, having served in the Air Force.
Wearing both hats, I’m voting Yes on Prop. 17 on the June ballot because it will benefit California drivers. This includes all military personnel no matter where they serve in California, who will be better off under Prop. 17 than they are under current law.
Under current law, drivers who maintain continuous coverage are eligible for a continuous coverage auto insurance discount from their existing insurance company, but they lose that discount if they switch to a different company. More than 80% of Californians maintain auto insurance and qualify for this discount, but are penalized and lose their discount if they change insurance companies.
Prop. 17 ends that penalty and allows California drivers to take their continuous coverage auto insurance discount with them to ANY insurer. It injects more competition into the insurance market and saves drivers up to $250 on their auto policies. If insurance companies are competing for business, consumers win with lower rates.
As an independent insurance agent, I work on behalf of my customers to get them the lowest priced insurance policies which best fit their needs. In this role, I am a true consumer advocate. Prop. 17 will allow me to get my customers the best possible rate, and eliminates the surcharge for switching insurers.
Prop. 17 also includes important new protections for drivers whose coverage may lapse. In contrast to current law, Prop. 17 offers drivers a 90-day grace period so if their policy cancels or lapses for any other reason than non-payment, the driver still qualifies for the discount. This protects drivers who stop driving for a while to save on gas costs or to recover from a surgery or illness.
If the lapse is longer than 90 days, Prop. 17 adds further protections for drivers by allowing insurers to grant the continuous coverage discount at their discretion. Like the 90-day grace period, this is a new protection that doesn’t exist in current law.
According to the auto laws on the books today, drivers who lapse their coverage for just one day automatically lose their continuous coverage discount and have to pay higher rates if they restart coverage.
Prop. 17’s new protections also take into consideration the special needs of military personnel, treating the time that military personnel serve overseas as though they were continuously covered. This ensures they can still qualify for the discount, even after serving abroad.
Prop. 17’s provisions offering a 90 day grace period and new flexibility beyond the 90 days also benefit members of the military, who may move out of state for training or other purposes for a time. These new protections help to ensure that Prop. 17 benefits the hard-working men and women who serve in our armed forces in addition to other responsible drivers who maintain continuous coverage.
In short, consumers and military personnel are better off with Prop. 17 than current law, which provides no options or protections for extending their continuous coverage discount.
That’s why veterans groups like American GI Forum of California and the California Republican Veterans of America support Prop. 17 along with the consumers, seniors, small businesses, and taxpayer groups.
A YES vote on Prop. 17 will give consumers the freedom to shop around and switch from one insurance company to another to find the best price and best service, without losing their continuous coverage discount. This is a simple, common-sense reform that will benefit millions of California drivers.
Visit www.YesProp17.org for more information.
The opinions above reflect the views of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of East County Magazine. To submit an editorial for consideration, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.