Auto insurance round-up

I don’t talk about auto insurance much — not that I have anything against it, it’s just that it’s not where the action usually is.  But I often harangue other lawyers about trying something new when it comes to writing, so today I’ll put my keyboard where my mouth is.

That being said, here are some items of interest about auto insurance developments:

Here is a good story by Bruce Mohr of the Boston Globe about Massachusetts’ new insurance commissioner, Nonnie Burnes, a name which has a Shakespearean ring to it:  "Converting all your sounds of woe into Hey Nonny Nonny" — Much Ado About Nothing (II,iii,68-69).  To the surprise of many, she has come out for increased competition as a solution for many of the Bay State’s insurance problems.

Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco has vetoed a bill that would have raised the mandatory minimum liability insurance drivers must carry to $25,000.  It is now only $10,000.  She says that since 1.5 million of the state’s 4 million drivers carry only the minimum coverage, premium increases would have meant more drivers would go without any insurance at all.   However, as the state’s insurance commissioner implies in his statements in support of the bill, this amounts to a subsidy of underinsured drivers by other drivers, who have to purchase higher uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage to compensate. 

— Alabama drivers have been required to purchase insurance only since 1999, but despite a law that now makes auto insurance mandatory, 25 percent of drivers are still uninsured, a figure that is unchanged since 1998.  Alabama ties California for the higher percentage of uninsured drivers, with Mississippi coming in first, according to this 2006 study.  If you look at the second page of the study, you will see that 9 percent of NoDaks drive uninsured, a number that first surprised me as being higher than I expected, but then, after further thought about a lot of the people I grew up with there, surprised me as being lower than I would expect. 

—  Florida continues to debate whether to let its no-fault law die, or instead try to fix it.  State officials have had such a poor record lately with "fixing" insurance problems without making them worse, it might be best to just let no-fault fade off into the sunset.  

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