N. J. Commissioner Extends Last Chance Program

New Jersey Banking and Insurance Commissioner Holly Bakke announced an extension of the “Last Chance” program for the state’s uninsured motorists; the new deadline is now Feb. 28, 2003.

Initially scheduled to expire Dec. 31, the program waives certain underwriting surcharges for drivers who can only be insured through the residual market, formally known as the New Jersey Personal Automobile Insurance Plan. These drivers, who face the greatest financial hurdles to become insured, can save between $115 and $1,035 through the program.

Commissioner Bakke decided two weeks ago to extend “Last Chance” due to the resistance some drivers have faced when considering the Basic Policy. This low-cost option offers minimum coverage at a price that can be hundreds of dollars below the cost of the Standard coverage most drivers buy.

After Commissioner Bakke began promoting the Basic Policy and “Last Chance” in September, many callers to the Department reported that agents either did not know about the Basic Policy or refused to sell it. As a test, Commissioner Bakke asked Department investigators to pose as drivers interested in buying the Basic Policy. On Dec. 20, the Commissioner issued a series of Orders to Show Cause asking companies and agencies to explain why investigators who tried to buy a Basic Policy were unable to do so.

“Last Chance” waives underwriting surcharges for those who have a conviction for driving uninsured or failed to pay their premium, causing their policy to be canceled. The program waives underwriting surcharges only; all court costs and surcharges to the Division of Motor Vehicles must be paid.