Eager to reward experienced, safe, defensive drivers, many automobile insurance companies offer a discount to those who go accident and/or incident free for extended periods of time. That means the longer you drive ‘safe’ the bigger your discount becomes. It’s a win for insurance companies which rewards good driving so they have more customers striving to stay out of trouble and a win for consumers who rewarded for their good driving behavior with lower premiums.

The problem (and of course they had to be a problem) is that when a consumer chooses to switch insurance companies, even if the new company has a similar reward program, their safe driving discounts don’t always go with them. They get a fresh slate from their new insurer and have to start earning rewards all over again. This is problematic for many who have to face paying higher premiums until they ‘earn’ the discounts offered by their new insurer, and some say it is illegal-or should be.

Which brings us to California Proposition 33.

Under California Prop 33 insurers would be required to take a drivers existing safety record into consideration when setting their insurance premium rate. That means safe drivers would take their driving record with them if they switched insurance companies. No more having to start over just because you changed insurers. It’s a win for consumers and a bit of a loss for insurers, but the end result is that insurers would have to treat all customers equally. A good driving record is a good driving record regardless of who your insurer might be. If an insurance company wants to reward safe drivers in order to have more safe drivers as clients then accepting good drivers as they are would achieve the same thing, and possibly make it easier to convince people to switch to their company.

In a perfect world, insurers would be able to create whatever rating models they wished and would be free to compete for customers. California’s Insurance Commission, however, allows insurers to write policies based solely on 18 criteria. Prop. 33 would add another criteria – continuous driver history – and that would likely go a long way to lowering car insurance rates, as has been found in the 48 other states that allow continuous-driver discounts.