Tag Archives: Dolores Huerta

Jim Crow Insurance: CA Prop 33 Turns Back The Clock To Price Discrimination In Auto Insurance


Revelations of discrimination by insurance companies are always shocking, but when they come out just days before a vote on an industry-sponsored ballot measure that would legalize unfair price increases and prejudice in auto insurance, Californians should pay particular attention.

A former insurance agent from the Auto Club of Southern California just blew the whistle on a scheme at the company that led to discrimination. The allegations come just as California voters take up Prop 33, a ballot measure financed with $16 million by one insurance executive, Mercury Insurance chairman George Joseph, that will allow auto insurance companies to surcharge motorists just because they didn’t buy insurance in the past, even if they didn’t own a car.

A new poll from the California Business Roundtable, whose numbers consistently tilt in favor of big business that funds it, shows voters have turned against Prop 33, with support dropping to 48% as the public learns about the proposal and the billionaire insurance executive who is behind it.

The Auto Club of Southern California insurance agent Jill Rogers exposed how the insurance company financially penalized agents for writing policies for new drivers and those without prior insurance, including those who did not drive previously. She said agents hung up on customers who did not have prior insurance and quoted them the most expensive policies, because the agents would only receive a $20 commission on those policies. For those who had continuous coverage, the Auto Club would pay its agents $100 to $500.

Call it Jim Crow Insurance. It’s illegal to charge more to new drivers and those with lapses in coverage in California, so insurance companies find other ways to keep them off the roll.

Clearly auto insurance companies don’t like to insure new drivers and those who had a lapse in their coverage, even though they are prevented by law from charging them more. Prop 33 would open the door to outright price discrimination.

As husband of an African American woman, I have seen racial discrimination first hand, including misplaced reservations, overcharges and other indignities endured by my wife and family on a fairly regular basis. Jill Rogers’ description of how insurance companies financially pressure agents, who in turn drop phone calls and misquote certain types of drivers, rings a bell. And this occurs in a system where it is already illegal to charge more to people who did not drive previously because they could not afford insurance.

How much worse will it be if Prop 33 made such price discrimination legal for all insurance companies?

We know from history. Shortly after California imposed tough mandatory insurance laws in the 1980s, a group of inner city residents sued because they were being forced by the state to buy auto insurance but could not afford it: Insurance companies were charging them thousands of dollars per year for auto insurance because of the ZIP-code they lived in and the fact that they did not have insurance previously.

Auto insurance companies, including George Joseph’s Mercury Insurance, the backer of the current Prop 33 proposal, essentially drew a “redline” around their communities and used these two pricing factors to keep African Americans and Latinos out of the auto insurance market.

Justice Allen Broussard of the California Supreme Court wrote: “This case arises from the attempt of the California Legislature to solve a serious social problem – the uninsured driver – without taking into account an equally serious problem – insurance pricing practices which make automobile liability insurance prohibitively expensive for many of the urban poor.”

Broussard, the second African American justice to serve on the California Supreme Court, noted that the plaintiffs “speak also of the reluctance of insurance companies to insure persons who were previously uninsured, a problem of particular concern since the purpose of the 1984 legislation was to compel such persons to obtain insurance.”

In its decision in the seminal King v Meese case, the California Supreme Court said it sympathized with the plaintiffs but told them to turn to the legislature, which then refused to act. Voters took matters into their own hands in 1988 with Prop 103 and banned the power of insurance companies to charge new drivers and those without previous insurance more for auto insurance.

Now, 24 years later, Prop 33 would reverse the ban and allow companies to again charge new drivers and those without insurance more for auto insurance.

Anyone who doubts that Prop 33 is about giving insurance companies the power to discriminate just needs to listen to Jill Rogers.

Joseph, who has tried to overturn this and others prohibitions on discrimination in the courts and legislature for two decades, before losing a nearly identical ballot measure to Prop 33 just two years, finally admitted to the LA Times recently that he would use Prop 33 to charge more to new people in the market. Afterall, when was the last time an insurance company billionaire spent $16 million on a ballot measure to save you money?

And if you doubt that such price discrimination would fall hardest on people of color, consider that the unemployment rates among whites is 7.5% and among blacks 14.1% percent and Latinos 10.2%. People of color are going to be the most likely to have to stop driving for economic reasons, and Prop 33 will slam them with 40% premium increases when they come back in the insurance market. That’s exactly how much Mercury Insurance charged those who didn’t drive previously when the sponsor of Prop 33 and his company were caught illegally surcharging them in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

Prop 33 hurts all of us by putting more uninsured motorists on the road, and raising our uninsured motorists premiums, but it’s attempt to punish communities of color is outrageous.

Prop 33 is a deceptive initiative designed to bring us back to the day when insurance companies could price certain types of people out of the insurance market. That’s why consumer groups, civil rights groups like MALDEF and Equal Justice Society, as well every major newspaper editorial board in the state oppose it.

Recently civil rights leader Dolores Huerta spoke out against Prop 33. “We should be wary when a billionaire funds a self-enrichment ballot scheme,” said Huerta. “We will all pay if insurance discrimination against the poor and communities of color is brought back. Please join me in voting NO on Prop 33.”

Judging by the most recent poll, and thanks to whistleblowers like Jill Rogers, Californians seem to be agreeing with Huerta.


Originally posted on 11/1/2012 on the Huffington Post. Posted by Jamie Court, author of The Progressive’s Guide to Raising Hell and President of Consumer Watchdog, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to providing an effective voice for taxpayers and consumers in an era when special interests dominate public discourse, government and politics. Visit us on Facebook and Twitter.

This Brave Nation

Brave New Foundation (disclaimer: my employer)just launched episode 2 of This Brave Nation, a documentary series born out of a collaboration between BNF and The Nation magazine.  In this episode, two legendary Californians, Dolores Huerta and Bonnie Raitt, are featured in conversation with one another.  (Episode 1 also features two Californians: Van Jones and Carl Pope.  Really serves to remind you just how outsized a role our state has played in building the progressive movement in the U.S.)

Here’s the trailer with Bonnie Raitt.  You can view the entire 30-minute episode at http://bravenation.com/bonnie_…

Future episodes will include Anthony Romero and Ava Lowery, Majora Carter and Pete Seeger, and Tom Hayden and Naomi Klein. At a moment when progressives are healing the wounds of a divisive presidential primary, this series reminds us of the solidarity of our movement.

(CA80AD) Perez’s Economic Plan

The California 80th Assembly District has the affluence of Palm Springs and La Quinta, where the well-off winter, and the Grapes of Wrath poverty of Duroville.

Manuel Perez:  “For too long, the 80th Assembly District has been ignored and neglected by politicians.  Growing up the son of farm workers, I know the struggles of working families.  I will fight locally and in Sacramento to bring new opportunities and prosperity to all our communities.”

Manuel Perez focuses on parents as well as students as a School Board Trustee, recruiting them to work with him to reverse the schools to jails pipeline in our poverty burdened communities.  But it’s not enough to educate, we need jobs in California, and specifically a green tech business plan from Palm Springs to Calexico.  Check the plan on the flip.

NOTE:  I originally gave Indian Wells to the 80th when posting this, and I’ve sinced remembered that it’s in the 64th.  I’ve edited the first sentence of this post (above the flip) to correct it.

Crossposted at Daily Kos


The Manuel Perez Plan for New Jobs and a Stronger Local Economy

As our next Assembly Member, Manuel Perez will be a leader in creating new jobs and stimulating our local economy.

*Bring new green technology businesses to the Valley creating green collar jobs by tapping into the alternative energy resources within the district.

*Create higher education opportunities, workforce development and job training sites.

*Build partnerships between tribal governments, resorts, golf courses, hotels and the tourist industry with local schools and community colleges to create internships, apprenticeships and job training opportunities.

*Strongly support family farmers and farm workers to ensure prosperous yields.

*Promote small business economic development, encourage the California entrepreneurial spirit, and expand and promote of “enterprise zones.”

PhotobucketManuel Perez

(CA80thAD) Gloria Romero & Dolores Huerta Endorse Perez

California Senate Majority Leader Gloria Romero and celebrated labor leader and civil rights champion Dolores Huerta endorse Manuel Perez, Candidate for the 80th Assembly District.

“I feel honored beyond words”, says Mr. Perez, “to have received this support from two of California’s most distinguished leaders.  Both Dolores Huerta and Senator Romero have worked hard for those who have been marginalized and underrepresented.  I will attempt the same.”

This is one of the few California state seats in play this year, and the demographics indicate it should be blue by now.  Manuel Perez is an organizer, a healthcare provider, and a powerful progressive voice for this region.  Good thing I listened to netroots nags and ran for state delegate, because now I’ll have the honor of endorsing him this Thursday at our Pre-Endorsement meeting, and caucusing for him at the State Convention.   For your people-powered politics fix, read more about Manuel Perez on the flip.

Crossposted at Daily Kos http://www.dailykos.com/storyo…

Coachella School Board Trustee Manuel Perez grew up in both Coachella and Calexico, graduated from public schools and then from UC Riverside before coming home to teach. He later earned a Masters of Education from Harvard, worked as an organizer and health researcher and now provides health care access to thousands of families as Director of Community Health and Advocacy for a Community Health Foundation.  He and his wife Gladys are raising their family in the same community where they grew up, teaching their sons the same values they learned from their parents. – from latest press release from Agxibel Barrajas



For those who’ve already read David Dayen’s excellent profile on Manuel Perez, you know that UFW is integral to Perez’s life story.  Manuel had a date to introduce Dolores Huerta to the folks at the 1st Annual Southern Region Promotor Conference a few weeks ago, but had to miss it when he returned to Harvard to accept a 2008 Harvard Graduate School of Education Alumni of Color Achievement Award.  Clearly she has forgiven him.  About that conference, one Perez has worked hard on for many months:

Hello everyone,

As you know, Promotores from the Imperial and Riverside Counties have been working diligently to organize the 1st Annual Southern Region Promotor Conference entitled, “The People’s Conference-Sharing, Teaching and Learning for Social Change and Well Being.”   It is scheduled for Saturday, February 23, 2008 at Desert Mirage High School.  There will be many great workshops offered and the keynote will be legendary UFW organizer Dolores Huerta.  This conference is strictly for Promotores and we expect approximately 200 from throughout our regions.  However, if you would like to participate in the conference by hosting an informational/educational booth please let us know asap.  Because of our target population, the conference will be entirely in Spanish, but there will be translation services in English.  Attached are the registration form, a map, and a list for housing accommodations in case you may need a place to stay.  The attachments are in Spanish, including the Registration form.  However, if you need some help with the form, please do not hesitate to contact Poder Popular at 760-398-5327.  We are very excited about the event and we look forward to building and organizing community health with you.

Thank You,

Manuel Perez, Ed. M.

Southern Region Promotor Task Force-Member at Large

Director of Community Health and Advocacy

Borrego Community Health Foundation-

Centro Medico Coachella, Oasis, Cathedral City

This region was recently a Republican stronghold, but thanks to Bush, the neocons, and the general failure of GOP policies, Democrats are coming on strong in this region.  We have a real chance to elect a powerful liberal in the 80th, one who can advocate for better schools, equal access to health care in the context of his own experience in the field, one who can advocate for gay rights in Spanish.  This is who we need representing a region from Palm Springs to Calexico.  We need Perez in Sacramento, and now Senate Majority Leader Gloria Romero and UFW co-founder Dolores Huerta have joined John Conyers, Joe Cota, Esteban Torres, LIUNA Local 777, and host of others in support of his candidacy.  

More photos here