As I sit here reading an article in The Times (Part I, July 10) about the various ballot measures concerning auto insurance, the postman brings me a renewal notice announcing a 33% increase in what I had previously believed was an excessive premium. My driving record is excellent, I live in a "nice" neighborhood and drive a sensible car. I shudder to think what those who are unfortunate enough to live in a high crime area, had a citation or two, or were foolish enough to actually file a claim have to pay.
While seemingly a step in the right direction, these ballot measures are either authored by the very parties which caused this situation in the first place or by those who feel that a 20% discount after a 33% increase is a victory for the consumer. The point is that anything less than the elimination of the entire insurance company/trial lawyers involvement in this matter is only a stopgap measure. Free enterprise and lack of government interference has helped us achieve prosperity in many areas, but when the insurance payment is higher than the car payment, or even the rent payment, the marketplace is not serving us well.
If government can underwrite the insurance problems of nuclear power plants, financial institutions, and the obscure, yet campaign chest-filling plight of farmers who let customers pick there own fruit, surely a spartan program providing the liability insurance required by law at a reasonable rate is within the scope, if not duty, of our government.
While the state of our health care system is certainly more frightening, at least it is legal to get sick and be unable to afford treatment. Contrast this with auto insurance, where not only does the government restrict entry into the provider marketplace, bar exams for lawyers, regulations and capital requirements for insurance companies, but also insists that we pay whatever these government protected monopolies charge.
Please don't worry about these industries--they'll still be able to make a good profit on those willing to buy special insurance to cover their four-wheel drive sports cars, or shield their fortunes from the crap-shoot personal injury legal system. But the average Joe who just wants to obey the law and have the peace of mind that financial ruin will not compound whatever other misery he incurs in a car accident deserves a rate less regressive and less expensive than his tax bill.