Deukmejian Plays Into Hands of the Insurance Companies, Nader Says

Times Staff Writer

Consumer advocate Ralph Nader charged Monday that Gov. George Deukmejian is “pandering to the skepticism and cynicism of some members of the public” and is “playing right into the hands of the insurance industry” in opposing all five insurance initiatives.

Nader campaigned for Proposition 103 from predominantly black South-Central Los Angeles to the Republican heartland of Orange and San Diego counties. He said that with polls showing the main insurance industry initiatives--Propositions 104 and 106--"going down,” the insurers have told themselves, “Let’s get all of them to go down.”

When the governor took his position against all five initiatives Friday, Nader suggested, “he was probably doing exactly what the insurance companies wanted him to do.

“They know the best chance they have to beat back 103 is to breed a cynicism about everything,” he said.


In Sacramento, Deukmejian’s press secretary, Kevin Brett, said, “If you review the governor’s statement, he makes it clear that he opposes all five insurance initiatives, including those supported by the insurance industry. So any suggestion that the governor . . . is supporting one side or the other, is completely without foundation or documentation.”

Brett said Deukmejian intends to work after the election for a more balanced solution to the insurance rate crisis than those offered by the initiatives.

Nader repeatedly charged Monday that the insurance industry campaign, which through Oct. 22 had officially spent $40.8 million, will now spend “a million dollars a day on television” to beat Proposition 103. The measure calls for 20% rollbacks in all auto, homeowners, commercial liability and municipal liability insurance rates from the levels prevailing a year before the election.

The insurers have contended that the rollbacks called for in Proposition 103 would throw many of their companies into bankruptcy and could force the imposition of a state insurance company in California.


On Monday, industry campaign spokesman Scott Carpenter denied that the industry will spend $1 million a day in television advertising in the final week.

Much of the industry’s effort now is with an intensive mail campaign.

Over the weekend, for instance, many Los Angeles-area voters received a new mailing with the headline: “Santa Monica Activist Harvey Rosenfield Is Trying to Bring a New Jersey-Style, State-Run Auto Insurance System to California.”

The mailing does not mention Nader’s name, nor does it note that New Jersey has a financially disastrous no-fault system, while Proposition 103 does not call for no-fault. Rosenfield drafted Proposition 103 and is chairman of the campaign.

Outside the Los Angeles-Orange County metropolitan area, the insurers’ mail campaign asserts that Proposition 103 would do away with the territorial rating system, causing rate increases almost everywhere outside Los Angeles. The mailings ask why drivers in Northern and Central California should pay for rate rollbacks in “Beverly Hills, Brentwood, Bel-Air, Malibu, Pacific Palisades and Santa Monica.”