I went online last week to get a car insurance quote from Mercury Insurance. I went through the process twice, once listing my occupation as engineer.
All the rest of the information was the same — my age, address, driving record, car make — but as an engineer, I was given a lower monthly rate: $247.88 instead of $262.88 and a potential yearly savings of $179.89.
My price comparison experiment was inspired by a petition filed July 18 by Consumer Watchdog, a taxpayer and consumer advocacy group, protesting Mercury Insurance Co.’s request to the California Department of Insurance to bump up its auto rates.
Mercury Insurance, a major car insurance provider in California, is asking to raise its rates on customers by 6.9%, or $131 million.
But a major factor that underlies Consumer Watchdog’s demand for a public hearing on the proposal is its claim that Mercury’s rates are not only “excessive” but “unfairly discriminatory.”
“It’s an issue that we have been fighting for many years to rectify in California where insurance companies have been illegally surcharging folks based on arbitrary job categories,” Consumer Watchdog Executive Director Carmen Balber told me.
In 1988, Californians passed Proposition 103,