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Massachusetts Liberal

Observations on politics, the media and life in Massachusetts and beyond from the left side of the road.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Quiet victory

Call it a stealth victory for Deval Patrick.

There were skeptics aplenty when Patrick and Insurance Commissioner Nonnie Burnes announced plans for a "managed competition" auto insurance system to replace the regulated system that sprang up after a previous unmitigated disaster of reform in the 1970s.

Heck, some legislators were even afraid about losing their jobs over the reform.

A couple of caveats: I am not involved in the insurance industry and my own wacky situation calls for my policy to renew around Dec. 30, so I won't be seeing a new bill or options for quite awhile.

But I do think the decision by a couple of major insurers to start selling policies in Massachusetts again is a good sign. Yeah, I know that means they think they can make a profit while sticking to someone with a minor accident or moving violation.

But even more to the point is this:
So far, Burnes said, the division has received numerous reports from consumers praising the system and saying they have saved money - and only four complaints. There are no statistics available on how much consumers are saving, but some drivers say they cut annual premiums 20 percent to 40 percent.
Even though the Boston media has been virtually denuded of consumer reporting, it's highly unlikely that widespread pain would elude the attention of Channel 5's Susan Wornick.

Quite a different scenario than the one being painted when Patrick and Burnes embarked down this road -- to the scorn of many of my fellow lib, er, progressives (no, not the insurance company).

But check back with me when I get my bill. Because I still don't want to subsidize the insurance of the Masshole who cuts me off while lane changing through heavy traffic while he's doing 90 and chatting on his cell phone. Wherever she lives.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is really interesting because the Romney folks made the same policy arguments, but they felt they needed legislation to get the job done. Patrick's insurance commissioner, in contrast, figured out how to do it administratively, without legislation.

This is a very important development that has ramifications for increased national company participation in the house insurance market, too. That is important because that part of the insurance system in MA has been undercapitalized in that it was offered by only relatively small regional companies --leaving the state vulnerable to widescale natural disasters. So the "bounce shot" from auto insurance reform is an improvement in the homeinsurance marketplace, too.

July 13, 2008 8:13 AM  

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