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 Rate Reduction of 18 Percent to 20 Percent on New Business Delayed
 LOS ANGELES, Sept. 30 /PRNewswire/ -- Mercury General Corp. (NASDAQ: MRCY), a major California automobile insurer, reported today that it had filed a request with the California Department of Insurance (DOI) to expedite a hearing schedule on the company's rate revision application in response to a notice from the DOI that a California consumer interest group had requed? authority to intervene and oppose the company's rate applications. The group, Utility Consumers' Action Network, filed its request for intervention just before expiration of the time permitted for such actions under the California Insurance Code, as amended by Proposition 103, the California insurance initiative approved by voters in November 1988. The commissioner, as required by the new statute, approved the request and will set hearing dates in the near future.
 This action marks the first time that a consumer interest group has availed itself of the Proposition 103 authority to intervene in a California insurance rate proceeding. This new section of the Code provides that such intervenors are entitled to be awarded reasonable fees and expenses to be paid by the insurer applicant. The Utility Consumers' Action Network has, in the past, largely confined its activities to rate filings and other matters related to regulated public utilities.
 The company had filed its revised rates and rating plans in early July. The new plans were designed to strengthen the company's competitive position by lowering rates for most new applicants by as much as 20 percent.
 All requests to the company from the DOI for additional or explanatory information related to the July rate filings were satisfied within the prescribed time limits, and the filings were, therefore, deemed complete. Since the processing of the applications at various staff levels encountered no opposition, the company had expected formal DOI approval by the end of September, with implementation of the new rates planned for the fourth quarter. The delay resulting from the intervention action is uncertain at this time.
 In its current filing seeking an expedited hearing, the company noted that the rates and rate levels embodied in the July applications are, on an overall basis, lower than the rates and rate levels approved by the Commissioner on June 9, 1992, as part of the negotiated rate rollback settlement. Accordingly, the company asserted, " ... the requested rates cannot be excessive under Insurance Code Section 1861.05 as a matter of law."
 George Joseph, president and chief executive officer of Mercury General stated that this action provides another example of the many anti-consumer consequences that the voters could not possibly have envisioned when they voted Proposition 103 into law in 1988. Joseph said that Mercury's rate filing would produce an overall reduction in rates of some $200 per policy for over 1,000 applicants a week, a savings statewide of over $10 million per year now delayed by this intervention.
 -0- 9/30/93
 /CONTACT: Keith Parker, CFO, 213-937-1060/

CO: Mercury General Corp. ST: California IN: INS SU:

LS-MF -- LA012 -- 7146 09/30/93 09:12 EDT
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Sep 30, 1993

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