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NEWS RELEASE
Mar 20, 2001


CONTACT: Pam Pressley - 310-392-0522 x307

Oakland Motorists Who Live on Opposite Sides of the Same Street Charged Vastly Different Automobile Insurance Rates

Annual Premiums in Oakland's Temescal District (94609) are 30% higher than in Piedmont/Montclair District (94611)
Oakland residents can expect to pay widely varying automobile insurance premiums based solely on which ZIP code they choose to live in, according to data released today by the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights and the Nader-inspired citizen activist organization, The Oaks Project. Literally by just crossing the street from Oakland's Piedmont/Montclair District (94611) to the Temescal District (94609), motorists can expect a jump in their premiums of up to 30%.

The groups' data illustrates that disparities in auto premiums by ZIP code continue thirteen years after California voters passed Proposition 103 (a 1988 ballot iniative), which required that automobile insurance premiums be based primarily on one's driving safety record rather than zip code.

"Drivers in low-income, minority communities who are least able to afford auto insurance are being forced to purchase it at a higher rate than their neighbors who may live just across the street," stated John Link, Oaks Project volunteer and Bay Area resident. "This is exactly the problem that Proposition 103 was supposed to fix, but thanks to former Commissioner Quackenbush, these discriminatory rating practices continue today."

Rating practices that use ZIP code to be a primary determinant in automobile insurance premiums are allowed by1996 regulations issued by Insurance Commissioner Quackenbush. Several citizens' groups and the Cities of Oakland, San Francisco, and Los Angeles challenged the regulations as violating voter-enacted Prop 103 and won in Alameda County Superior Court in 1998. The insurers and Quackenbush appealed. In December 2000, the Court of Appeal reversed the lower court's decision, upholding the Quackenbush regulations. Consumer groups have now petitioned to the California Supreme Court for review. The Supreme Court will have until April 8, 2001 to decide whether to take the case.

"The California Supreme Court has before it the opportunity to resolve a thirteen year old battle for consumer and civil rights," said Pamela Pressley, staff attorney with the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights (FTCR). "It is now in the hands of the highest court in the state to finally implement the will of the voters: that auto insurance rates be based primarily on your driving history, rather than where you garage your car."

For the Oakland Auto Premium Survey, go to: http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/insurance/fs/fs001370.php3.

For a list of groups and individuals that support review by the Cal. Supreme Court of Spanish Speaking Citizens, et al. v. Low, go to: http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/insurance/fs/fs001369.php3.





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