PCI Says N.J. Auto Reform ‘On the Right Track’

March 24, 2004

A bulletin from the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America praised New Jersey Gov. James McGreevey’s announcement Monday of three new automobile insurance reforms.

The recently adopted measures will “supply consumers with timely and useful information to make informed choices about the levels of coverage they will purchase,” said the PCI. It also noted the adoption by the New Jersey Department of Banking and Insurance of “three regulations in conjunction with consumer protection provisions enacted in last year’s landmark reform legislation, Senate Bill 63.”

“The latest three auto insurance reform regulations provide consumers more opportunities to understand what they are buying and at what costs, making them smarter shoppers,” stated Richard Stokes, PCI northeast regional manager. “Lawmakers are on the right track. The insurance department’s continued responsiveness by adopting the regulations is critical for the state’s insurance market to continue to improve. But all reforms need to be adopted to realize true reform potential.”

He indicated that after three decades of difficult conditions, New Jersey’s auto insurance market has undergone dramatic changes in a very short time. Insurers are finally looking at New Jersey as a new opportunity, which could provide consumers with more options and help drive down prices.

“It is important to note that reforms are at the infancy stage,” Stokes continued. “We are close, but not all the reforms have been adopted. Insurers need all the reforms adopted, as well as time to feel the effects of the measures to improve service to consumers. Lawmakers have made huge advances in reforming the state’s auto insurance system. We urge them to finish the job.”

The 2003 New Jersey Automobile Insurance Competition and Choice Act includes essential consumer measures that provide individuals more opportunities to choose the best policies to fit their insurance needs at the best cost. No other state has recently enacted as extensive a number of consumer measures as New Jersey did in the auto reform act last year. The law also is instrumental in containing auto insurance costs and providing a better business environment for auto insurance companies. The New Jersey Department of Banking and Insurance moved quickly to establish more than 20 regulations necessary to carry out this landmark reform. Recent signs that the personal automobile market is recovering include: a new company entering the auto insurance market for the first time in seven years; the number of uninsured drivers diminishing; insurance companies reevaluating or suspending their practice of dropping coverage or leaving the marketplace; and insurers voluntarily reducing rates.

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