Are Not Criminals
- February 19, 1999
- Submitted to local media
- Contact: Scott Goold - 505.293.2504
Dennis Domrzalski (Weekly Alibi Feb. 18-24) provided an insightful review
of New Mexico's auto insurance challenges in, "'No Pay, No Play' Gets
Dumped." Yet there is more to this story. I am from Idaho. The day
that I moved to New Mexico, my auto insurance rates doubled. This had nothing
to do with my driving record, which is excellent, it was due only to the
Idaho and New Mexico are similar in many ways. Both have nearly 1.5 million
citizens. They are generally rural populations with few urban centers. Cost
of living is significantly higher in New Mexico, but the medium family income
for Idaho residents is higher, $28,987 to $26,805. As such New Mexicans
are relatively poorer than my fellow potato heads. U.S. Census figures report
that 21.6% of New Mexico's citizens live below the poverty line compared
to only 12.5% in Idaho.
I called my former Idaho insurance agent to compare figures. To begin
a new policy in Idaho (minimal coverage required by law) costs $253 per
six months. The similar policy in New Mexico runs $400 per six months.
Mr. Domrzalski is incorrect on a couple points. He states the uninsured
hurt the insured by "making them pay twice for insurance." Idaho
residents buy uninsured and underinsured protection as well. For a six-month
policy, Idaho residents pay $23 compared to the $70 that New Mexicans pay.
While this protection is three times higher in New Mexico, it does not account
for the discrepancy in insurance plans.
Idaho has a significant problem with uninsured motorists as well. An
estimated 40% of Idaho residents do not maintain legal minimum coverage.
A recent local news story reported approximately 50% of New Mexicans do
not carry the legal minimum of insurance.
Fifty percent of New Mexico's population is therefore, as Domrzalski
states, criminals. I believe the people of New Mexico are good. They do
not prefer to be law breakers. They are just poor. Domrzalski states that
the "vast majority of New Mexicans support Johnson's 'No Pay, No Play'
bill." This is not true. Johnson's plan serves only to add more suffering
to those who have already suffered enough. Johnson has again demonstrated
his insensitivity to people in general.
Domrzalski is correct regarding his analysis of trial lawyers and their
lobbyists. He should include insurance companies as well. These are the
individuals making a killing in New Mexico. Legislate for ceilings on liability
settlements and attorney's fees. Insurance companies will not have to pay
out as much; insurance will cost less; and more people will comply with
By the way, my wife and I recently became homeowners. As such the minimum
legal coverage for my car is no longer $400 per six months, it is $158.
New Mexico laws and policies continually favor the wealthy. The people of
New Mexico are not criminals - they are just poor.
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