Help! column: Ulterior motive behind insurance discount rule

May 28, 2008

Florida Today–May 27, 2008

Dear Help!: Sometimes you have to wonder just what the heck it is with government.

As regards the column about insurance discounts (Help!, May 17), why did the government have to pass a law to “allow” a company to give a discount? One might conclude that to be a useless, total waste of their time and our money.

Do they also have to pass a law to “allow” — say, Lowe’s — to give a discount to customers who attend a painting class?

They passed a law to “allow” a discount? I started to say that’s incredible, but then I remembered it was government. Good grief. Bob Morton,
Satellite Beach

Arousing Morton’s attention was a column that looked into the state-mandated discount for people completing the AARP Driver Safety Program. Specifically cited therein was a section of Florida Statute 627.0652: Insurance discounts for certain persons completing safety courses.

The law provides “for an appropriate reduction in premium charges” for the completion of an approved course, which the AARP’s is. Though he does not speak for the government, AARP representative Dean Carlson thought readers such as Morton might benefit from an understanding of the measure’s significance in the grand scheme of things.

“Most of our participants, who are surveyed in each class, state that the major reason they are taking this course is to obtain a discount in the automobile insurance cost,” he said.

From his vantage point as district coordinator and trainer of members of the instructional team, Carlson said the law, though indefinite about what constitutes “an appropriate reduction,” is material nevertheless.

“The import of the statute is to require insurance companies to offer a reduction in rates and to encourage mature persons to become safer drivers by making them aware of changes in the laws governing operation of motor vehicles while refreshing their knowledge of safe driving practices,” he said.

The two-day, eight-hour AARP course for motorists costs $10 and is offered throughout the year at various locations across the county. Though aimed at mature drivers, the program is open to any person of legal driving age. Carlson said participants need not be members of AARP to sign up.

People interested in brushing up on their driving skills can call 888-227-7669 for the latest information on classes in their areas.

Footnote: Carlson said the search continues for volunteers to undergo AARP training to become instructors. Also wanted is a telephone coordinator who’d be amenable to working from home. Preliminary expressions of interest in the voluntary positions can be e-mailed to dcarlson5@cfl.