Policy matters

Don Mecoy writes in this morning’s Oklahoman:

About one of every four vehicles on Oklahoma roads is uninsured, and there’s not much that can be done to improve that, state officials say.

Oklahoma lawmakers have proposed and adopted a number of measures designed to punish uninsured motorists, but the state’s rate of uninsured motorists has remained steady in recent years, said Lonnie Jarman, driver compliance director at the state Department of Public Safety. “In the 50 states and the District of Columbia, there is no one that has found the perfect solution,” Jarman said.

Many motorists who fail to carry auto insurance do so because they can’t afford it, Jarman said. “Most states have found regardless of what they try to do, it doesn’t change that rate very much. The reason why that is, is because it’s a social issue, the social issue being, ‘I can’t afford it’.”

And this differs from health insurance — how, exactly? Yet you don’t see anyone calling for government-operated Universal Auto Coverage.


  1. Don Mecoy »

    5 April 2008 · 10:00 am

    An interesting analogy. One difference is that if you show up at a body shop with no insurance, no one feels obligated to fix your car.

    Thanks for reading.

  2. Aero »

    5 April 2008 · 10:14 am

    Did you happen to see the news report a few weeks ago about the random stops in MWC? Out of 125 motorists stopped, 106 had no auto insurance. Bless my Uninsured Motorist coverage!

  3. CGHill »

    5 April 2008 · 10:15 am

    Of course, if the government mandated that the body shop had to fix your car — but let’s not give anyone any ideas.

  4. BPD in OKC »

    5 April 2008 · 10:53 pm

    I think the government should mandate that the body shop would have to fix your car if you don’t have insurance. Maybe the government would also put caps on how much the mechanics could charge you. Now that would be nice.

  5. Francis W. Porretto »

    6 April 2008 · 4:48 am

    Well, Charles, there are a couple of differences between auto and health coverage. First, the roads are state property. (Forget that “public property” jazz; there never has been such a thing and there never will be. He who holds the rights over the transfer, use, and destruction of a thing thereby owns that thing.) An owner has the right to set the terms under which others may enter his domain.

    The other big, salient one is that drivers on a shared road have placed one another at mutual risk. Each one is a major source of harm and hazard to the others. Since driving is a discretionary act — from what I recall, breathing is not — to mandate that drivers maintain the ability to compensate those they might injure is more reasonable than to mandate that an individual be able to pay for medical services for himself.

    Of course, the notion that that ability must be provided by a third-party insurer requires more justification than this, and I’m not sure such a justification exists. Time was, if you could escrow a certain amount of money as self-insurance — I believe the amount was $100,000 — you were exempt from the requirement to carry liability insurance in New York State. But that exemption was quietly repealed by our legislature a couple of decades ago. Probably at the behest of the auto insurance companies.

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