Insurance Questions

by Don Boudreaux on April 16, 2009

in Regulation

Tom Wilson, CEO of Allstate Insurance, wants Uncle Sam to regulate his industry more strictly.

Is Mr. Wilson a public-spirited businessman who is proposing a policy that he believes might well harm him and his company but one that will also, in his view, be worthwhile for the public at large?

Or is Mr. Wilson a keen businessman who understands that, in this case at least, stricter national regulation of his industry will benefit both his firm and the public at large?

Or is Mr. Wilson a duplicitous businessman who understands that, compared to the current regime of heavy reliance upon regulation by state governments, a regime of stricter national regulation can more easily be captured by himself and other insurance-industry insiders — and, hence, is a ticket to higher industry profits extracted from the wallets of customers who will buy insurance in a less competitive market?

I truly do not ask these questions rhetorically.  I know too little about the details of insurance-industry regulation to offer a firm assessment.  I suspect that Mr. Wilson is not knowingly proposing a policy that will harm his company (so the answer the the first question is likely 'no').  But beyond that, I'll not venture a guess as to what's going on in Mr. Wilson's mind.

Your thoughts?

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