Business: Why Insurance Is High and Hard to Get

THE U.S. is a riskier place than it was only a few years ago. Racial unrest, drug addiction, campus mayhem and rising crime have added not only social hazards but also economic costs to everyday life. When a house is burglarized or a school vandalized, almost everybody has to pay some part of the bill—through higher insurance rates. Changes in society, including the real or imagined decay of moral standards, have also exacted a toll. Insurance executives used to assume that loss claimants were honest; now the presumption is that many people cheat a bit. Greedy motorists and crooked repairmen conspire...

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