Progressive to Return to N.J. Auto Market

March 3, 2005

Tucked away in the 2004 annual report of Progressive Insurance is big news for the New Jersey auto insurance marketplace. The giant insurer, which exited the state in 1983, is driving back.

In the report’s section titled New Horizons, Glenn M. Renwick, president and chief executive officer, notes that Progressive “allocated significant resources” to judging the current New Jersey insurance environment and came away impressed with what it saw.

“We were encouraged to find a business climate more congruent with our objectives,” he wrote. The company, the nation’s third biggest auto insurer, expects to complete regulatory filings and begin writing in the state in several months.

Renwick noted that two of the top 15 auto insurers have entered the state within the past 18 months and that he is “optimistic” about Progressive’s entry. Mercury General entered in July 2003, while GEICO returned last August. Also last year, State Farm agreed to stay after having earlier decided to leave.

Progressive has not indicated what products it will offer or whether it will sell though its Internet direct system, an independent agency force (known as Drive), or both.

The re-entry into New Jersey will leave Massachusetts as the only state where Progressive does not write personal auto.

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