Online Auto Insurance: Mercury Rate Change Request Highlights Regulators’ Role

Los Angeles, CA, December 28, 2011 --( The recent news that auto insurer Mercury has asked the California Department of Insurance for permission to raise its premiums by an average of 6 percent statewide underscores the important role that state regulators play in overseeing insurers and protecting the public, according to Online Auto Insurance (OAI).

Regulatory officials in all 50 states are tasked with overseeing the business practices of coverage providers and helping to ensure that consumers who are looking for cheap auto insurance online or in person are treated fairly by companies.

That is particularly true in the Golden State, where industry experts say strong consumer protection legislation gives regulators the legal authority to look out for the best interests of residents.

Proposition 103, which was enacted in 1988, required that coverage providers get the approval of state regulators before raising premiums for vehicle coverage and also outlined the factors insurers are allowed to consider in setting rates, including a person’s driving record, annual mileage and experience behind the wheel, among about 16 other factors.


Commissioner Dave Jones is now being asked to decide whether to approve a rate increase proposed by Mercury that could cost the company’s policyholders statewide a total of nearly $90 million a year. Mercury officials say the overall increase is necessary because of growth in the size and frequency of damage claims filed by policyholders.

Jones’s department has not commented about the rate increase. But balancing insurance companies’ right to make a reasonable profit against the risk of overcharging customers is just one example of the work regulatory agencies carry out on behalf of consumers.

In another action that could affect many California motorists, Jones earlier this month announced that officials had updated state rules regarding how insurers decide who is eligible for good-driver discounts.

One result of those changes is an increase in the property damage dollar threshold that had to be met before a violation point could be assigned to a driver’s record.

Jones and other state regulators assist consumers with questions and concerns about their policies, help resolve disputes between policyholders and coverage providers, and negotiate settlements as appropriate.

California regulators have not yet announced whether they will approve Mercury’s rate increase.

To learn more about this and other car insurance issues, readers can go to where they will find informative resource pages and a rate-comparison generator that can help users quickly evaluate their coverage options.

Online Auto Insurance
Gregor McGavin