Rep. Birmingham blamed false accident claims by dishonest lawyers and doctors for the high automobile insurance in the state, during debate on the House floor, the Springfield Republican reported (May 9, 1929, p. 13).
Birmingham charged that Attorney General Warner had criticized the practice but has done nothing to stop it. He quoted former Gov. Fuller, who had said that something should be done about the high rates.
Birmingham pushed the insurance committee to take action to bring down the high rates, but it only recommended setting up a special commission to study the matter. He moved for a rule suspension to permit a motion to refer the matter back to the insurance committee, but the House refused to suspend the rules to entertain Birmingham’s motion.
Birmingham charged the Republicans with covering up something with regard to the insurance rates. The attorney general refused to answer a letter from Birmingham protesting the lack of action. He demanded that the attorney general stop covering up these crooks, summon a special grand jury and the ex-commissioner of insurance, and let him make good on his statements about these men filing false claims, according to the newspaper.
Back in 1925, the legislature passed compulsory auto insurance (Hennessey). During this debate, Rep. Eliot Wadsworth criticized the decision to require compulsory insurance, suggesting that this might be contributing to the high insurance rates.
Not a single state has followed Massachusetts in adopting compulsory insurance, Wadsworth said. He opposed Birmingham’s motion and said the commission needs time to study the issue and the 15 bills referred to the committee to tackle the problem.
In April, Birmingham sent a letter to Warner criticizing his inaction on the auto liability insurance rates, the Boston Globe reported (April 4, 1929, p. 10). "What was the outcome of your investigation?" Birmingham asked. He said that Ex-Gov. Fuller and Warner spoke publicly about the alleged fraud committed by dishonest lawyers and doctors.
"The present silence after such a storm of protest makes those anxious to clear up this situation feel that something has been hushed up," he wrote.
"Our present Governor, then Lieut Gov Allen, injected himself into the issue and on Aug. 25, 1928, requested Commissioner Monk to allow the present rates on compulsory automobile liability insurance to remain as at present until at least further data had been received. Why doesn't Gov Allen take definitive steps now to relieve the situation, if he held such views before election?"
"Lieut Gov Youngman was so deeply interested as to file a bill against this unjust legislation, but what has he done to further corrective measures? His voice, so often raised on the platform at election time, was silent when an opportunity came for him to pursue a tangible policy. Does he oppose the dilly-dally policy of the Republican legislation [sic: legislature?], or is he a party to it?"
"On the Republican party rests the responsibility of these rates and they must assume the responsibility. Now in April, 1929, just as in August, 1928, these office-seekers must clear themselves in the eyes of the people of this State. They must do something--NOW. Next year the insurance companies, fattening on the easy money of the present tax, will seek and obtain another larger tax. Let us seek to make one rate for the zoning law, and that one the minimum and not the maximum rate. Let us take up the fight as earnestly as the Republicans promised to do before election, and let us accomplish this vital reform without further delay."
"I have risen as a Representative of the people of this Commonwealth to bitterly oppose a further postponement of this question. As you have in the past professed a deep interest in the subject, will you join forces with me now in the present to settle this subject of insurance rates by giving me details of your investigation?"
"May I have a speedy reply to this important matter?"