Auto Reform Advocates in Mass. Take to TV, Radio to Drive Message

An insurance industry-backed group that calls itself Fairness for Good Drivers is going on television to advance its program for changes in the auto insurance system in Massachustetts.

The group has bought advertising time on local TV and radio stations.

“Fairness for Good Drivers is bringing the campaign for fairness and choice in auto insurance rates to consumers across Massachusetts with these television and radio ads. We hear from people everyday that they are tired of paying too much for auto insurance. Massachusetts drivers want change and they want it now. It is time to fix it,” said James Harrington, a spokesman for Fairness for Good Drivers, and lobbyist for a trade group of domestic insurers.

The ads on network and cable channels are running as Representative Ron Mariano (D-Quincy), chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, prepares to have public meetings about auto insurance reform around the state.

Currently, the group maintains, 86 percent of Massachusetts drivers pay too much for their auto insurance so the remaining 14 percent can be subsidized and receive below-cost coverage. In addition, only 18 companies will be doing business in Massachusetts at the end of the year, while approximately 50 insurers have left the state or gone out of business over the last 15 years. Most of the best-known national companies do not do auto insurance business in Massachusetts.

The group argues that the problem in Massachusetts lies in a rate-setting process where the state annually dictates the price for all insurers and in the current system to insure high risk drivers.

Gov. Mitt Romney has joined the call for changes to the auto insurance system. But a court decision has blocked the Romney Administration’s changes to the high-risk sharing system and insurance and political communities have been divided over whether to support changes to the rate-setting system.