The Department of Insurance proposal would eliminate the “ affinity discount, ” which affects millions in color communities.
Lea este artículo nl español.
By Julian Cañete, especially for CalMatters
Julian Cañete is President and CEO of the California Hispanic Chambers of Commerce, firstname.lastname@example.org.
From Washington, DC to Sacramento, government agencies are taking unprecedented steps to support workers seriously harmed by the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. But these unprecedented actions only make a small dent when it comes to supporting the Spanish community, which has been one of the most affected by the pandemic.
That’s why it’s striking to me that the California Department of Insurance still has a proposal to undo a long-standing voter-approved policy that saves millions of Californians hundreds of dollars a year on auto insurance.
Taking risk is something known as an “ affinity discount, ” savings offered to members who purchase insurance through a group setting. Typical of these programs are the programs offered to seniors through senior organizations, teachers, firefighters, and peace officials through their unions, and small business owners through associations such as the California Hispanic Chambers of Commerce.
These group discount programs are not uncommon. About 40% of California drivers participate through organizations as diverse as trade associations, unions, member stores, advocacy groups, car clubs and the like.
Representing the interests of California’s more than 815,000 Hispanic entrepreneurs, members of the California Hispanic Chambers of Commerce have benefited from an affinity relationship for nearly a decade. This discount has allowed our members to save much-needed dollars on their home and car insurance. The last thing the Spanish community needs now is for the Department of Insurance to take away our insurance discounts.
We understand that Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara is trying and wanting to protect low-income Californians expand discounts to disadvantaged communities. Steps should be taken to expand the reach of existing programs, promote their availability in low-income communities, and reach out to new networked groups in those communities to establish group discount programs of their own.
Unfortunately, instead of expanding the rebates, this proposal would eliminate rebates for millions, including the communities of low-income people of color and Californians who can least afford to pay hundreds of dollars more a year.
Despite attending and speaking at numerous hearings and sending letters pushing back on these proposed rules, Lara is not listening to us.
The regulations would not bring any apparent benefit to people in disadvantaged communities and would do nothing but cause hardship. Consider small business owners. On any list of those most affected economically by the pandemic, small business owners would be at the top.
There are thousands of such companies in California, most of which are individuals doing business for themselves or with no more than a handful of employees. More than 40,000 of them closed in this year of the pandemic, many of them permanently. Tens of thousands more – diners and cafes, barber shops and nail salons – hang from wires.
If a government agency were to eliminate that benefit at this point, it would run counter to anything California is trying to do to keep more small businesses from closing. These regulations represent higher costs that we cannot afford and will limit our ability to access much-needed discounts.
Indeed, the state must look for ways to equitably reduce costs for all Californians, wherever they live. But it’s not the solution to taking money out of the pockets of ordinary Californians and our minority small businesses who are just trying to hold on.
Julian Cañete has also written about the ban on flavored tobacco.