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Car Getting Old: Need Auto Repair Subsidy

Posted Sep 12 2008 3:35am

So I was talking to a friend who is an actuary for some insurance outfit. I was saying that my car was getting old and I had an $800 service bill last time out. Maybe it was time to buy a new car, but it was still running well, it was just costing me more.

I wondered out loud how much longer I would keep the car if I could be protected from big repair bills. Wouldn’t it be nice if my auto insurance helped me keep my costs down?

The analogy slapped us both across the face at the same time.

Your car insurance could help you find auto shops that charged less (my former insurance company already does this with body shops… did I mention: FORMER insurance company) and maybe even pay a part of my service bills. Of course the cost of the insurance would rise with the car’s age, instead of decline as it currently does.

Problem is, you can’t trade your body in if the price went up to much. You can always trade your car in for a new model if it got too expensive to service or insure.

Problem is, I drive fast and my insurance rates are going up with every fender bender. I’m not sure I’ve seen a credible way to adjust health insurance rates for non-compliance. Except maybe smoking.

Now here’s another interesting idea, if my insurance completely covered the price of fixing little dings and dents, would I park next to the cart rack at the supermarket? Would a human being subconsciously take less care of themselves if their “service costs” were so heavily subsidized?

How much does all this cost? Our current auto insurance costs us about $335 a month for two cars and remember, mine is fast becoming an old clunker. We pay $150 a month for health insurance, but my employer pays a significant share.

The NY Times ran an article about universal coverage, which is more accurate than the word “insurance”, which they use only a couple of times. It contained a better estimate for a quick calculation of the price of a decent low-cost health insurance from the Massachusetts reform.

Before the law was passed, a 37-year-old in Boston, for example, would have had to pay $335 a month for a policy with no coverage for prescription drugs and a $5,000 annual deductible.

Funny how the cost of my auto insurance and a health care subsidy match… Coincidence? I think not!

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