It’s becoming clear that the underlying reason for insurance industry opposition to requiring insurance for guns is the latest move in a very old battle to keep the government out of regulating insurance and leaving the path clear for insurers to maximize their interests and profits. In a fascinating book from 1929 presenting both sides of the debate Edison L. Bowers, its editor from Ohio State University, wrote in an introduction:
No large group of persons stands as sponsors for compulsory automobile insurance in any of its forms, although an association has been formed to promote the compensation insurance idea. As already suggested, however, there is a strong undercurrent of public opinion to the effect that something needs to be done to curb the growing menace of the automobile, and that compulsory insurance of some sort will help in that direction. The opposition, on the other hand, is much better organized and considerably stronger. Both the United States Chamber of Commerce and the American Automobile Association have declared against compulsory insurance in its present contemplated form. The latter organization opposes it particularly on the ground that such insurance would not prevent accidents, which end is the basic issue in the problem.
The strongest opposition comes from a source least expected. The insurance companies have definitely declared against compulsory insurance. Their attitude has added new fuel to the controversy. It has raised the old issue of the “vested interests” versus the public. … the private interests present the argument that legislation should never invade the realm of private enterprise, that any change contrary to the welfare of private interests is un-American, socialistic, and perhaps unconstitutional.[i]
By the time compulsory insurance was being adopted in New York State in 1956 at least 85% of the motorists in that state had voluntary insurance with almost no regulation of terms and rates. The insurers were loth to allow a mandate which they were sure (and correctly so) would lead to regulation and especially regulation of rates. This history indicates that the insurance industry is no friend of the public but it will bend to the public will when it is finally expressed and then will serve the public.
[i] Edison L. Bowers, “Introductory Note,” in Selected Articles on Compulsory Automobile Insurance: Liability and Compensation for Personal Injury, ed. Edison L. Bowers (The H.W. Wilson Company, 1929), 16.