News Release

New Jersey Department of
Banking and Insurance
Commissioner Holly C. Bakke

For Immediate Release:  March 17, 2004

For Further Information::   Mary Cozzolino or Bill Heine - (609) 292-5064

Online auto insurance shopping tool a big 'hit'
A record number of consumers have visited Web site

TRENTON - New Jersey's innovative Auto Insurance Purchasing Planner, an online shopping tool designed to help drivers better understand their insurance, has been used by more than 6,500 consumers shopping for auto insurance since the program was unveiled just two weeks ago.

According to the Department of Banking and Insurance, the Auto Insurance Purchasing Planner received an unprecedented number of computer "hits" since March 4, making it one of the more popular services on the Department's Web site.

"For too long, getting an auto insurance policy in New Jersey has been difficult," Governor James E. McGreevey said. "But now, we're making it easy and convenient by literally putting information at drivers' fingertips. From a more competitive marketplace, to more consumer protections, our auto insurance reforms are putting the consumer in the driver's seat."

A hallmark of the McGreevey Administration's auto insurance reforms is protecting consumers, by providing them with the tools to understand what coverage they need and how that affects the premium they pay. The Purchasing Planner is the most recent addition to the Department's outreach efforts, which include visits to motor vehicle offices and community groups around the state.

"I am so pleased people are taking advantage of this innovative shopping tool," Banking and Insurance Commissioner Holly C. Bakke said. "The heavy use of the planner demonstrates that if consumers have access to the right information, they will take advantage of the opportunity to make decisions that fit their auto insurance needs."

The Purchasing Planner educates drivers about their coverage options and potential premium savings, but does not give actual quotes. However, with a few clicks of the mouse a driver can learn about choices that need to be made with regard to personal injury protection (PIP), deductibles, liability and comprehensive and collision coverage and print out those selections to use when talking with insurers.

Consumers can access the Auto Insurance Purchasing Planner on the Department's Web site at

The Purchasing Planner is just one component of the Governor's consumer initiatives, which includes a Consumer Bill of Rights, an Automobile Insurance Report Card to assist consumers in

evaluating auto insurers, Three Scenarios, which requires insurers to provide three distinct premium-and-coverage choices, and a requirement that insurers notify customers within 10 days of filing an application to alter its rates.

The reforms also created the Dollar-A-Day program for low-income families who are on federal Medicaid, phases out the take-all-comers rule, adds a new standard deductible of $750, maintains the current $250,000 medical expense benefit standard coverage under PIP, and makes auto insurance fraud a crime.
Other major accomplishments since the reform law was signed in June 2003 include:

"Developing an auto insurance market where consumers benefit from a competitive marketplace is what this Administration is working toward," Commissioner Bakke said. "The Auto Insurance Purchasing Planner is helping consumers take advantage of the emerging competitive marketplace."