SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Nathaniel Epting got a big surprise when he opened his auto insurance bill. "I looked at it, and I was like, it's up about $400," he said.
Why? His insurer estimated he would drive more than he had been driving. It turns out he had been driving more, but others out on the road had their mileage increased too, when they haven't driven one single mile more.
A group of activists from Consumer Watchdog sat down with 7 On Your Side's Michael Finney via Zoom to talk about "mileage creep" and auto insurers.
Harvey Rosenfield wrote Prop. 103, which regulates auto insurers. He says, "This is a way for them to evade the law and get unjustified rate increases."
Consumer Watchdog's Pamela Pressley says the state requires insurance companies to ask policy holders how many miles they'll drive.
"If you're a renewal customer, they have to at least ask you once every three years, and then the reg (regulation) says that in the years that they're not (asking for a mileage estimate) an insurer may... either use the mileage figure from an expiring policy or a reasonable objective mileage estimate," Pressley says.
And get this: the state allows many companies to just assume that every year their policyholders will drive an additional thousand miles, but only if the consumers are not asked or don't provide estimated mileage amounts.
So what should you do? Every year, read your policy, looking for how many miles they say you will be driving.
Consumer Watchdog's Camen Balber urges, "Every consumer to look at their policy every time they get that big packet of paper in the mail from their insurance company, because you never know what they're hiding."
Then challenge the miles if they are too high. The state regulations are on your side. If your estimate is legit, the insurance company has to use it.
Take a look at more stories and videos by Michael Finney and 7 On Your Side.
7OYS's consumer hotline is a free consumer mediation service for those in the San Francisco Bay Area. We assist individuals with consumer-related issues; we cannot assist on cases between businesses, or cases involving family law, criminal matters, landlord/tenant disputes, labor issues, or medical issues. Please review our FAQ here. As a part of our process in assisting you, it is necessary that we contact the company / agency you are writing about. If you do not wish us to contact them, please let us know right away, as it will affect our ability to work on your case. Due to the high volume of emails we receive, please allow 3-5 business days for a response.
You may also email 7OYS@KGO-TV.COM.
Please note the address uses the letter "O", not zeros. Be sure to include your full name, email, street address, and phone number.