Insurors Are The Real Criminals

Posted: June 03, 1996

The automobile insurance laws turn over 1 million Philadelphians into criminals - those without insurance and those who use out-of-town registration to get lower rates. The reality is that insurance rates are too high and the insurance companies are the real criminals.

The cliche ``driving is a privilege, not a right'' needs to be laid to rest once and for all. For tens of thousands of Philadelphians, driving is a necessity, not a privilege. Read the want ads. Increasingly, employers are requiring ``reliable transportation'' as a condition of employment. When employers require ``reliable transportation,'' they are not talking about SEPTA. People need cars when they work late hours or outside of Center City or to carry the tools of their trade or simply to transport their families.

People should not be made into criminals simply because they are poor, nor should columnists such as Russell Byers label them as ``low-lifes.''

Insurance companies play the old ``divide and conquer'' game by blaming their usurious rates on uninsured drivers. So insured drivers, themselves victimized by oppressive rates, point the finger at uninsured drivers.

And drivers who use out-of-town addresses feel more righteous than uninsured drivers who don't have an out-of-town address to use. The result of this game is the poor vs. the poor instead of the poor vs. the manipulative insurance companies.

Are high insurance rates the fault of uninsured drivers? That argument is like blaming the high price of gasoline on the people who ride SEPTA instead of driving. If everyone had insurance, the probability is that rates would rise since an increase in consumer demand usually leads to an increase in prices.

Insurance companies are pimps who prey on everyone's fear of having their vehicle damaged or a loved one injured in an accident. The insurance laws must be changed and the rates must be lowered immediately. It must become a political issue. Anyone who wants to be councilman or mayor in this city must show a plan to have insurance companies stop sucking the blood of Philadelphians. Every present councilman and mayor must prove that he/she has not been prostituted by the insurance companies since insurance laws could not have been enacted without politicians bowing before the insurance companies' lobby.

Many uninsured drivers are your neighbors, your friends and your family. They are not criminals or low-lifes. The insurance companies are.

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