Insurance or Tax?

A bill introduced in the New York State Assembly would require the state’s residents to acquire liability insurance as a condition for gun ownership. The annual cost for $1 million in liability insurance is estimated to be between $1600 and $2000.

Proponents of the bill will certainly argue that this is no different than requiring insurance coverage for car registration or home insurance in order to obtain a mortgage. There is logic to that argument, but the bill opens the door for an onslaught of requirements for insurance.

Clearly, this is a mandate to buy insurance, though it is not the same as the mandate from Obamacare because it does not require everyone to buy insurance. However, if this bill were to land in a court’s lap for a decision, could it be labeled a tax?

No one expected the Supreme Court to rule the Obamacare mandate to be a tax, especially after Obama adamantly assured us it was not a tax. However, that is what occurred and, as with many court rulings, it created a slippery slope that a NY court may decide to slide down. Stranger things have happened.

Once that door is wide open, could liability insurance be required for ownership of a bow and arrow, machete, BB gun, darts, or a nail gun? How about for ownership of a dog, baseball bat, skateboard, or a bicycle? Could a purchase of cigarettes, alcoholic beverages, or prescription painkillers require liability insurance or an additional health policy?

That may sound crazy but not too long ago it sounded crazy to buy water in bottles like soda, pay for a cable to receive free TV, hand out condoms in grade schools, or provide sex-change operations to prison inmates. Perhaps this may be a good time to buy stock in insurance companies.

David J. Hentosh


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