News Release

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

For Immediate Release: August 10, 2004

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

Auto Insurance Reforms Moving Ahead
National Insurance Carrier Celebrates First Anniversary in New Jersey

TRENTON - Marking another milestone for New Jersey drivers, Banking and Insurance Commissioner Holly C. Bakke joined officials from Mercury General to celebrate their first anniversary doing business in New Jersey.

Commissioner Bakke commended Mercury General for providing more choices for New Jersey drivers, and credited Governor James E. McGreevey's auto insurance reforms for increasing competition and putting a downward pressure on rates.

"Before we enacted our auto insurance reforms last June, insurance companies were anxious to see New Jersey disappearing behind them in their rear-view mirrors," Governor McGreevey said. "So, it gives me great pleasure to congratulate Mercury General as they mark the first anniversary of doing business in our great state. I look forward to their ongoing success as we continue to see increased competition and rate reductions for New Jersey drivers."

As the first carrier to enter the state's auto insurance marketplace in the past seven years, Mercury General has written more than 40,000 policies, covering nearly 100,000 vehicles. Mercury accomplished this by appointing more than 300 agents.

"Attracting new carriers to invest in New Jersey has been a focus of Governor McGreevey's efforts to maximize competition and continue downward pressure on rates in the State's auto insurance marketplace," Commissioner Bakke said. "Mercury General was the first insurer to step up to the plate and join our new competitive marketplace. In just one year, the company has contributed to the Department's efforts to help consumers not only find policies, but premiums they can afford."

Mercury General's first year was marked by growth throughout the state. Mercury is writing approximately 1,800 new policies per week and has accepted more than 300 policies from carriers no longer in the New Jersey marketplace. The California-based company attributes their growth to careful underwriting, strict cost control and efficient claims management.

"New Jersey consumers have discovered and embraced the various options available to them fueled by the reforms," said Steve Green, state marketing director, Mercury General. "Mercury's participation in New Jersey's auto insurance market has given drivers a new option when looking to purchase auto insurance. The reforms created the playing field and we are competing."

Commissioner Bakke predicts the reforms will continue to yield more benefits for New Jersey policyholders. The Department set out to build a consumer-driven, competitive marketplace and companies have responded. Since Governor James E. McGreevey signed the reform package in June 2003, insurance carriers have returned more than $160 million in the form of dividends and rate reductions to more than 1.5 million policyholders, and carriers have generated more jobs and expanded their investments - all benefiting New Jersey drivers.

The Governor's auto insurance reforms have produced the following results for New Jersey drivers: