Tuesday, August 13, 2002

I was recently engaged in a debate with other libertarian-oriented people in regards to mandatory auto insurance. Others argued that the purchase of auto insurance should be voluntary. Getting hit by someone who doesn't have insurance is the risk another driver takes when driving. I don't agree with this argument and I don't think mandatory insurance laws are inconsistent with individual liberty.

When I purchase auto liability insurance, I'm purchasing protection for the risk I am to others when I drive. I purchase collision and comprehensive insurance and carry my own health insurance for the risk I am to myself when I drive. If I hit a freeway retaining wall or drive into a tree, my insurance protects me. But I have to purchase uninsured and underinsured motorist insurance to protect myself against other drivers. Other drivers hitting me isn't really my risk; it's the other drivers' risk. I have bought insurance to protect me when I fully or partially cause an accident, because of the potential risk that I am to others. Other drivers are obligated to do the same.

There is a second problem with the argument that I accept the risk other drivers won't have insurance when I drive. The problem is I'm not necessarily driving when these other drivers represent potential risks to me and others. An uninsured driver could hit me when I'm a pedestrian crossing the street, hit my car when it's parked, or even hit my home. Or do I bear all the risk of crossing the street, parking my car, or having a home?

I see mandatory auto insurance laws as a free market solution to protecting property, something the government has been granted the power to do. Certainly, I have the right to sue uninsured drivers in civil court, but this won't guarantee I will be justly compensated. The courts wouldn't even be able to handle all lawsuits involving uninsured drivers, if everyone decided to sue. Mandating auto insurance frees the courts, while protecting everyone's property. I think mandatory auto insurance is analogous to Kennesaw, Georgia mandating the ownership of firearms in households. Mandating firearms was a simple and efficient way to protect Kennesaw residents' life, liberty, and property without increasing expenditures on police.