Mentioning consumer advocate Ralph Nader by name for the first time, the insurance industry Tuesday said it is “incredible” and “astounding” that Nader would back Proposition 103, which the industry charges will raise insurance rates for 12 million Californians outside Los Angeles.
The statement also questioned why Nader would associate himself with Harvey Rosenfield, primary drafter of the initiative, whom the industry described in recent advertising as “a Santa Monica activist.”
The industry statement, coming just two days before Nader is to begin another California tour on behalf of the measure, was issued in the name of Charles O’Brien, a former chief deputy attorney general under Thomas C. Lynch in the 1960s and a frequent spokesman in recent weeks for the industry campaign.
Nader and coordinators of the Proposition 103 effort have branded as false the industry’s claim that the measure would raise rates.
They say that the 20% rollbacks called for under the measure, from the levels prevailing a year before the election, would apply equally to all auto, homeowner and commercial liability policies, no matter where the policyholders live.
But the insurers claim that the measure would do away with the territorial rating system, under which much insurance is priced by neighborhood, and that in flattening the rates, Californians outside the Los Angeles-Orange County metropolitan area and San Francisco ultimately would get increases.
Tuesday’s statement by O’Brien said:
“It’s astounding that Ralph Nader can support the Harvey Rosenfield proposal that forces 12 million Californians to subsidize insurance premiums in Los Angeles, Beverly Hills, Bel-Air and Santa Monica. Where was Ralph when this cockamamie proposal was drafted?
“Santa Monica activist Rosenfield, the author of 103, has created a redistribution of income plan to channel $1.4 billion down south to pay for Los Angeles’ auto problems.”
Nader, who formerly employed Rosenfield in Washington and was consulted in drafting the initiative, was not available for comment.
Rosenfield said contentions that Proposition 103 would raise rates for anyone “is an absolute fabrication, just like everything else they’ve been saying. If our campaign had a dollar for every lie fabricated by the insurance companies to avoid the rate reductions in Proposition 103, we’d be able to spend more on advertising than the insurance industry itself.”
The industry’s campaign in recent weeks has been directed at trying to defeat Proposition 103 and Proposition 100, backed by the California Trial Lawyers Assn., Atty. Gen. John K. Van de Kamp and some consumer groups, than at passing the industry’s own initiatives. Its Proposition 104 would create a no-fault auto insurance system and Proposition 106 would slash lawyers’ contingency fees. Campaign spokesmen have said a push for Propositions 104 and 106 will begin later.