SB 1107 Will Hurt California’s Drivers

By Walter Contreras, Vice President of National Latino Evangelical Coalition

With gas prices at the highest level in our history and inflation levels at 40 year highs, Californians across the state are reeling from the impact. So why would Governor Newsom and the state legislature make it more expensive to drive in California? As Vice President of the National Latino Evangelical Coalition (NaLEC), countless parishioners of our 30,000 related member churches will be significantly affected by car insurance premiums that will increase should this bill pass. .

Senate Bill (SB) 1107 will double the minimum amount of liability coverage drivers are mandated to buy and drastically change how Underinsured Motorist (UIM) coverage works. These proposed alterations to car insurance will hurt all Californians, especially lower income drivers.

NaLEC strives to provide assistance and support to many Californians and now, more than ever, is not the time to add another burden onto people who are already struggling financially. Amidst an ongoing pandemic, many of our parishioners are already struggling to cope with inflated costs of the most basic necessities, such as food, electricity and clothing. California legislators risk further hardship to these hard-working Californians if SB 1107 passes.

Supporters of SB 1107 say the bill will help drivers, as it will necessitate a higher level of insurance to cover the costs of accidents. The reality is these changes are completely unnecessary. Drivers are already required under California law to have liability coverage. Today, drivers can buy as much liability and underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage as they desire to protect themselves and other drivers in the case of an accident. The California Department of Insurance has already tried to take away access to affinity groups and the discounts they provide over the past few years, with regulations that would cause further harm to Californians like the members of NaLEC, and so many others…

As it stands, liability and UIM coverage are available at multiple levels, with consumers ultimately deciding how much coverage they can afford. Many of our members have no choice but to choose the lowest priced option, as that is all that they can afford. SB 1107 would double this minimum limit, which would serve to benefit the few special interest groups who are behind this piece of legislation over the many who will suffer from it.

SB 1107 will disproportionately hurt lower income drivers. Combined with record-high inflation, SB 1107 could drive some Californians to forego car insurance altogether. California already has high uninsured motorist rates of 16.6%, well above the national average of 12.6%. The insurance premium increases demanded by SB 1107 would likely do more harm than good by increasing the number of uninsured motorists and putting more drivers on the road in financial jeopardy.

We at NaLEC are not alone in this desire to protect our members. Ongoing economic recovery, coupled with inflation rates and record-breaking gas prices, makes this a uniquely bad time to increase the cost of auto insurance. Industry experts estimate 30% of California drivers carry liability limits below what would be required by SB 1107. Now is not the time to increase auto insurance costs for nearly one- third of California drivers. Keeping costs down for Californians should be the most significant consideration for policymakers during these very difficult economic times…

Personal Injury attorneys say SB 1107 California’s mandatory minimum limits are too low and out of date. This is simply untrue. California’s mandatory limits are affordable. Consumers are in control and always have the option to buy more coverage. Low-income drivers buy what they can afford to comply with the law. The Legislature does not need to price low-income drivers, like many of our members at NaLEC, out of the market. As a state that prides itself in its progressive policies it’s simply contradictory to pass SB 1107. Millions of low income Latinx and BIPOC folks will be financially hurt in its passing. It would be another financial burden to think about. Legislators should protect lower income drivers, instead of forcing them out of the market by voting NO on SB 1107 when it comes up for a vote.

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