California Adopts Flawed Mileage-Based Auto Insurance Regulations

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Jessica Lass at 310-434-2300 (main), jlass@nrdc.org

California Adopts Flawed Mileage-Based Auto Insurance Regulations

New Policies Miss Opportunity to Reward Low Mileage Drivers and Reduce Pollution

SACRAMENTO, Calif. - The Natural Resources Defense Council today said that new California
"Pay As You Drive" insurance regulations will not likely save
Californians money nor significantly reduce global warming pollution.
The final regulations, which merely permit insurance companies to
verify the miles their customers drive, can be found here.

"Our
auto insurance policies are sorely behind the times," said Justin
Horner, NRDC transportation policy analyst. "No one should be fooled.
The new regulations proposed today cannot be characterized as green.
They are nowhere close to what is needed to help the environment or
reduce global warming pollution."

Pay As You Drive
(PAYD) insurance directly ties the amount you drive to the amount you
pay for auto insurance: if you drive less, you pay less. Under current
regulations, drivers usually pay as much for auto insurance whether
they drive five miles a month or five hundred. Strong PAYD rules could
reduce global warming pollution and save drivers money. However,
according to NRDC, the regulations put forward by the Department of
Insurance will not likely result in effective PAYD programs and will
have little, if any, meaningful impact on California's environment.

"Because
mileage verification in the regulations is entirely voluntary, there is
no evidence that any insurance companies will make the switch," Horner
said. "The regulations weaken driver privacy and make insurance pricing
less transparent - changes the insurance industry lobbied for - but
still offer no timeline or proposal for when, or if, drivers will see
any PAYD policies in California."

The regulations permit
verification but do not require, or even provide guidance on, effective
mileage pricing. In short, setting up mileage verification programs is
not the same as offering PAYD insurance. 

Instead of
requiring insurance companies to offer PAYD insurance policies, the
final regulations merely permit insurers to offer a voluntary mileage
verification program. In return, insurers are permitted to offer
discounts to drivers to have them enter such a program and determine
their rate based on additional factors. The regulations also allow
insurance companies to require drivers, as a condition of their
participation in a mileage verification program, to install a mileage
tracking device in their vehicles.

Background on PAYD policies in California:

In
1988, voters demanded change to auto insurance in California and passed
Proposition 103, requiring the number of miles driven to be the
second-most important factor in determining insurance premiums, after
driving safety record. Advocates across California have asked the
Department of Insurance to better implement Prop 103 and require
insurance companies to more closely correlate premiums with the number
of miles their customers actually drive. NRDC advocated for mandatory
mileage tracking programs without requiring drivers to install tracking
devices, and lobbied for tight mileage bands to correlate greater
savings with the fewer number of miles driven annually.

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The Natural Resources Defense Council is a national, nonprofit organization of scientists, lawyers and environmental specialists dedicated to protecting public health and the environment. Founded in 1970, NRDC has 1.2 million members and online activists, served from offices in New York, Washington, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Beijing.

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