Florida’s legislature does some underwriter-splainin’.
Usually when I highlight a blogger who’s been writing about the insurance industry, I do so because I feel compelled to point out how little they know of what they speak. But I’m highlighting this post by Ken White over at Popehat because it’s refreshingly on-target.
Here’s the setup, regarding a Florida SB-424, a bill which just passed the both the state House and Senate and awaits signing by Governor Rick Scott:
[SB-424] seeks to prevent insurers from denying coverage or increasing rates based on customers owning guns or ammunition…
The bill would apply to property and automobile insurers and add language to part of state law that deals with “unfair discrimination.” As an example, the bill would seek to block insurers from refusing to issue policies because of customers’ lawful ownership or possession of firearms. Similarly, it would bar them from charging “unfairly discriminatory” rates based on gun ownership or possession…
“This is just a good, sound statement for freedom that we’re going to stand behind your constitutional rights,” [Rep. Dennis Baxley, R-Ocala] said.
This being Popehat, Ken focuses in on the political hypocrisy of the bill’s constitutional merits (or lack thereof):
The Republican party attempts, with mixed success, to brand itself as the party of small government, reduced regulation, and free markets. This bill illustrates why that branding is not entirely successful — because too many Republicans, given a favored issue (Guns! Drugs! Crime!), are as unabashedly nanny-statish as Bloomberg on his most Big-Gulp-decrying day.
The proposition is, apparently, that because gun ownership is a cherished right under threat, private insurance companies should be regulated and precluded from charging gun-owning customers more based on the insurance companies’ risk assessment…
[W]ould an insurance company that offers policies covering defamation be violating my First Amendment rights if it charged me — a mouthy blogger — more than a homebound shut-in who never utters or writes a word? Does an insurance company interfere with my right to procreate if it charges me more for a family health plan than an individual one? Should private insurance companies assume the risk of our exercises of constitutional rights?
(Ken also does a great job contrasting a Rep’s justification with the need for this bill with said Rep’s objections to the Affordable Care Act that makes the read worth clicking over.)
I have little to add, except to restate what I often do here: That regardless of what so many voters and consumers believe, insurance company actuaries don’t actually set premium rates based on their personal whims and political preferences.
Underwriters don’t charge substantially more for insuring the production and distribution of raw milk over homogenized milk because they hate freedom. Your local public elementary school’s insurance company didn’t threaten to cancel policies if the school didn’t ban tackle football at recess because they long for the sissy-fication of America. And property and liability insurers don’t charge more for people who own and stock weapons because they’re clearing the way for Obama’s UN forces.
Look, if you start using guns in your business, your liability premiums will go up because statistically speaking you’re going to have claims that are more severe in nature than you would statistically otherwise have. If you keep guns and ammo in your house, your property premiums will go up because homes with guns and ammo are the ones most often targeted by thieves. I know it’s popular among second amendment supporters these days to think that using and storing guns and ammo decrease the odds of both claim frequency and severity, but that’s just not the case. That it isn’t the case is exactly why underwriters charge more for the increased risk.
Well, that and we all have to have pricing pre-approved by Alec Baldwin.