Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Insurance news: health care reform continues to struggle, and epilogue on that VW van recovered decades after it was stolen

The health reform debate continues, with the New York Times reporting that Vice President Joe Biden's saying the window's closing, and won't reopen for another generation.

The White House is answering an insurance-industry analysis of the health legislation with its own report.

National Public Radio examines whether the 8 million-person federal health benefits program could be a model for national reform.

And finally, an epilogue on the story of a 1960s Volkswagen van that was stolen in 1974 and recovered -- in beautifully remodeled condition -- a few months ago. After much debate, insurer Allstate, which paid the original owner the theft claim decades ago, has decided to auction off the van and give the money to a group that helps homeless women and children.

Auto insurance rates, by state

The National Association of Insurance Commissioners puts out an annual report tallying auto insurance premiums and other data, state by state. (Here's the link, but note that the report costs $200. Our agency belongs to the NAIC, so we got a copy for free.)

So how does Washington compare? A little higher than average, but definitely in the middle of the pack. The national average for auto insurance coverage in 2007 was $912. Here in Washington, the average cost was $928.

The lowest average cost, it turns out, was in Iowa, where auto coverage cost an average of $620. The highest-cost state was Louisiana, at $1,262. Washington, D.C. was even higher: $1,289.

The 260-page report breaks down premiums by state in far more detail: different kinds of liability, personal injury protection, uninsured/underinsured motorist, etc. etc. It also has car-wreck fatality data (Washington's one of the lowest), average car-repair cost per claim ($2,366, which is about average), car-theft statistics, road miles, and other information.