BILL ANALYSIS Senate Appropriations Committee Fiscal Summary Senator Christine Kehoe, Chair 1597 (Jones) Hearing Date: 8/2/2010 Amended: 4/13/2010 Consultant: Katie Johnson Policy Vote: BFI 10-0 _________________________________________________________________ ____ BILL SUMMARY: AB 1597 would extend the sunset on the California Low-Cost Automobile Insurance Program from January 1, 2011, to January 1, 2016. _________________________________________________________________ ____ Fiscal Impact (in thousands) Major Provisions 2010-11 2011-12 2012-13 Fund CLCA sunset extension Annual, fee-supported costs of Private* $2,700 - $5,100 *Fully supported by subscriber premiums and insurer assessments _________________________________________________________________ ____ STAFF COMMENTS: This bill would extend the sunset on the California Low-Cost Automobile Insurance Program (CLCA) from January 1, 2011, to January 1, 2016. In 2009, there were 11,439 policies in force. Existing law establishes CLCA, which is administered by the California Automobile Assigned Risk Plan (CAARP). To be eligible for CLCA, a motorist must be 19 years of age, qualify as a good driver, have a vehicle valued at $20,000 or less, and meet certain income requirements. Based on current rates and policies in force, the CLCA annual budget could range from $1.8 million - $4.2 million annually. Policyholders pay annual premiums that are determined by the CAARP advisory board and approved by CDI. Rates vary by county and currently range between $161 and $368 annually. According to the 2010 CLCA Report to the Legislature, rates were sufficient to cover the costs of the program. Additionally, each CAARP certified insurer pays an assessment equal to a percentage of the number of people they insure. The assessment covers CAARP's annual administrative costs to administer CLCA of approximately $922,000. Costs to the California Department of Insurance (CDI) to update its CLCA operation plan would be minor and absorbable. There would be minor savings to CDI with the elimination of the requirement to notice public hearings in two newspapers in San Francisco and Los Angeles. Public hearings would be required to be conducted according to the Administrative Procedures Act. Additionally, this bill would make other procedural changes that support technology instead of a paper process and other improvements to make the administration of CLCA more efficient. Education and Outreach Cost Pressure Additionally, existing law permits CDI to spend $0.05 of a $0.30 special assessment on automobile insurers, on low-income automobile insurance consumer education and Page 2 AB 1597 (Jones) outreach. The special assessment is authorized in statute separately from CLCA. It was reauthorized by AB 601 (Garrick), Chapter 247, Statutes of 2009. In FY 2008-2009, CDI spent $1.38 million and in FY 2009-2010 spent $1.41 million of the special assessment on CLCA consumer education and outreach. Previous Legislation AB 725 (Jones, 2009), a bill that similarly would have extended the CLCA sunset, was vetoed by the Governor. He said in his veto message, "While I recognize the need to provide low cost automobile insurance to low income drivers, the effectiveness of this program is questionable? I encourage the author and sponsor to take the next year to examine the results of the program and determine if any changes are needed to the program to ensure its success." CDI sponsors this bill in response to the veto message and reports an 18.9 percent increase in enrollment in 2009 and expects high numbers in 2010 too.