New Jersey Department
|For Immediate Release: February 1, 2005||
For Further Information: Jaimee Gilmartin - (609) 292-5064
Department Releases Auto Insurance Consumer Information for 2004
TRENTON – Banking and Insurance Commissioner Holly C. Bakke today issued the Department’s second annual Auto Insurance Consumer Information Report. The report helps consumers evaluate how their current insurance carrier compares with others in the marketplace.
“The competitive marketplace created by the auto insurance reforms enacted in June 2003 offers drivers a variety of options with regard to carriers and coverage choices. The 2004 Auto Insurance Consumer Information Report complements other tools designed to help New Jersey drivers select the auto coverage that’s right for them,” Acting Governor Richard J. Codey said. “I have asked the Department to remain focused on its efforts to create a marketplace where consumers have the tools they need to make well-informed decisions regarding auto insurance.”
The report released today includes 32 insurance companies that insure more than 3,000 vehicles each and have conducted business in New Jersey for at least one year. Companies are ranked by the number of valid complaints compared to the total number of cars insured.
The information, which is posted on the Department’s web site, www.njdobi.org, includes the total number of valid complaints the Department received about the insurance companies listed. Valid complaints are those where the insurer’s actions were found to have violated state insurance rules or laws or should have been resolved by the carrier without the Department’s involvement.
The report also highlights the listed companies’ financial strength as calculated by A.M. Best, a leading national rating agency. This financial strength rating is an indicator of the company’s ability to meet its policyholder obligations. According to the report, more than 92 percent of the ranked companies assigned a rating by A.M. Best are considered secure – given a rating of B+ or above – signifying a strong and healthy marketplace.
“There are several factors a consumer should consider when choosing an auto insurance carrier,” Commissioner Bakke said. “This report gives consumers an idea of how insurance companies compare with each other in terms of customer satisfaction. The ratio between valid complaints and total number of vehicles the company insures is a good indicator of the quality of communication between an insurer and its policyholders, while the financial strength rankings provide insight into a company’s ability to meet its obligations.”
Commissioner Bakke also announced that the Department’s consumer protection efforts on behalf of drivers brought nearly $1 million in recoveries in 2004. The money was returned directly to consumers in the form of refunds.
The Auto Insurance Consumer Information Report is just one consumer initiative to help drivers take advantage of the competition spurred by the auto insurance reforms. The Department developed an Automobile Insurance Consumer Bill of Rights that sets forth a consumer’s rights and responsibilities regarding auto insurance; the Three Scenarios program that requires insurers to provide three distinct premium-and-coverage choices; and an interactive Auto Insurance Purchasing Planner that is available online and takes drivers through the various choices and coverage options available.
The Department urges consumers who feel their insurance company is not meeting its obligation to them to file a complaint directly with the Department. Visit the Department’s online complaint form.