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EDITORIAL ; Politics Driving Debate

Oct 31, 2007

Ah yes, now the truth REALLY comes out!

Perhaps we shouldn't be surprised, but it turns out lawmakers who want to block the Patrick administration's plan to introduce competition into the auto insurance market are at least as concerned about their chances for re-election as they are the merits of the plan.

In an e-mail this week, Sen. Dianne Wilkerson (D-Boston) and Rep. Antonio F.D. Cabral (D-New Bedford) waved around the prospect of auto insurance "rate shock" to scare their colleagues into joining them in their crusade against reason and reform.

New auto insurance rates will take effect in April, "just as the election season gets underway," Wilkerson and Cabral noted in the plea for support of their legislation to kill the proposal authored by Insurance Commissioner Nonnie Burnes.

"Do you really want to try to explain (higher rates) to your constituents while you are collecting signatures for your nomination papers?" Wilkerson and Cabral wondered.

Well, points for putting it right out there on paper, we suppose.

But while dwelling on the impact of the administration's "managed competition" proposal on HIGH-RISK drivers (an impact they vastly overstate, by the way), Wilkerson and Cabral fail to mention that rates for so-called "good" drivers - those who are insured on the voluntary market, who represent more than 95 PERCENT of insured drivers - are expected to go down with the introduction of competition into the market.

And under rules Burnes crafted to respond to concerns from urban lawmakers, premiums for drivers who are not insured on the voluntary market won't be permitted to increase more than 10 percent.

Remember, Wilkerson got a little election scare last time around, so it's no surprise she's got 2008 on the brain.

But to misrepresent a very cautious step toward reform - purely in the interest of politics - well, it's simply shameful.

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

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