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Car insurance measure qualifies for California ballot
By Insure.com staff

A controversial car insurance initiative financed largely by Mercury Insurance Chairman George Joseph has qualified for the June California state ballot.

The ballot measure, called the 2012 Auto Insurance Discount Act, would let car insurance companies take into account a driver's history of auto insurance coverage when setting premiums. The practice is currently banned as part of Proposition 103, the state's 1988 insurance reform initiative.

Customers who have maintained continuous insurance coverage for five years or more would benefit by qualifying for discounts. But opponents of the measure say it would let insurance companies significantly hike car insurance rates for other drivers.

"Mercury's ballot measure will lead to surcharges of more than 40 percent for millions of Californians who had a prior lapse in insurance coverage or simply had not been driving for a time, including students who went away for college, Californians who previously commuted by mass transit, seniors and the long-term unemployed," Brian Stedge, an advocate for the nonprofit Consumer Watchdog, said in a press release.

The measure is similar to one defeated by voters and sponsored by Mercury in 2010. Joseph contributed more than $8 million to the campaign to qualify the current initiative for the June 2012 ballot.

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