Mass. Insurer Coalition Plans Major Campaign to Bring More Competition to Auto System

By | February 18, 2005

A group of insurers in Massachusetts is planning a statewide public relations, lobbying and educational campaign to convince drivers, voters and lawmakers that more competition is needed in the state’s private passenger auto insurance market.

The group is hoping to build upon recommendations, now expected in May, from a task force appointed by Gov. Mitt Romney on ways to improve the auto system.

“It’s pretty fluid,” said William Cahill, in speaking of the membership roster for the group. Cahill is chairman of the steering committee for the group, which has given itself the name, Fairness for Good Drivers. He is also vice president and group counsel for Hanover Insurance Co., one of the company’s that has advocated for reform of the system.

Thus far the insurers that have signed on in addition to Hanover include Liberty Mutual, Amica Mutual, Premier, Metropolitan Property and Casualty, OneBeacon, Encompass, Fireman’s Fund, and Electric. In addition, the American Insurance Association and the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America have joined.

Several key domestic companies, however, are not yet in the fold. These include Commerce Insurance, Arbella Mutual, Safety and Plymouth Rick. Cahill said the group is in its early stages and hopes to reach out to consumer groups, other businesses and insurers including from out-of-state, insurance agents, all in an effort to broaden its membership.

“We’re focused on fairness for good drivers,” Cahill said in explaining what the coalition’s message will be. He said under the current system of state-set uniform rates, a standardized policy form, subsidies for high risk, and only 19 insurers willing to write, there is very little consumer choice in Massachusetts compared to elsewhere.

Cahill said the group hopes to convince the public that good drivers pay more than they should under the current system and would benefit from the state granting insurers more flexibility to price and design their products.

The coalition is not endorsing or promoting any particular recommendations at this point. It is waiting for a report from Romney’s task force before putting its weight behind any particular reforms.

The campaign is preparing to run print and broadcast advertisements as well as lobby on Beacon Hill.

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