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Editorial ; Driven to Distraction

Oct 9, 2007

Insurance Commissioner Nonnie Burnes has waved the white flag on one of the proposed changes to the state's auto insurance regulations. Those grumpy lawmakers who wrap the status quo in a loving embrace ought to count that as a victory, and stop their saber-rattling.

Burnes on Friday announced that insurance companies, soon to be freed from the commonwealth's one-rate-fits-all system, will not be allowed to consider a driver's credit history in any way when setting rates or deciding whom to insure.

Burnes had earlier said insurers would be allowed to use credit histories in deciding whether to insure a driver. She will now study the issue for a year before deciding how to proceed, she said.

The usual suspects decried Burnes' earlier proposal, arguing that it is unfair and discriminatory. Never mind that it is considered by most non-politicians as a legitimate factor in predicting a driver's risk. Or that Burnes had already identified a slew of other factors (income, home ownership, marital status) that insurers are banned from using in setting rates or deciding whom to insure.

Senators in particular (with Sen. Dianne Wilkerson, D-Boston, leading the charge) have taken the "death by a thousand cuts" approach to Burnes' plan to introduce limited competition into the auto insurance market. The threat of legislation to block her plan is their ace in the hole.

If only these lawmakers would give the changes a chance to work before condemning them. They might discover that thousands of their constituents will benefit. And what to complain about then?

(c) 2007 Boston Herald. Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning. All rights Reserved.

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