News Release

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

For Immediate Release:  March 4, 2004

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

Banking and Insurance Commissioner Announces New Tool
to Help New Jersey Drivers Purchase Auto Insurance

TRENTON - Banking and Insurance Commissioner Holly C. Bakke today unveiled the Auto Insurance Purchasing Planner, an Internet-based program, to provide New Jersey motorists with information they need to determine the auto coverage they want and how much they want to pay for that coverage.

One of the hallmarks of the McGreevey Administration's auto insurance reforms is protecting consumers, by providing them with the information they need to control the cost of their auto insurance premiums. The new Auto Insurance Purchasing Planner helps drivers evaluate those coverage options to determine the coverage that is right for them.

"Our reforms have led to a new competitive marketplace that puts the consumer in the driver's seat. Now drivers can easily shop around for the best prices and the best policy that suits their needs," Gov. James E. McGreevey said. "Drivers have many options to consider when buying insurance. With our new online purchasing planner, we will help drivers better understand their choices so they don't end up paying for coverage they don't really need."

"The best tool we can give consumers is the ability to make informed choices about the coverage options that are available to them and the relative cost of that coverage," Commissioner Bakke said. "The Auto Insurance Purchasing Planner does just that. It is simple to use and takes drivers through the process step by step."

The Purchasing Planner does not give actual insurance quotes; rather, it helps educate drivers about their coverage options and potential premium savings. For example, 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.

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

The Purchasing Planner is just one component of the state's consumer initiative, 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 Medicaid, phases out the take-all-comers rule, adds a new 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 include:

"The goal of this Administration's approach to auto insurance was to develop a competitive market where consumers have carriers compete for their business," Commissioner Bakke said. "The Auto Insurance Purchasing Planner gives consumers an additional tool to help them take advantage of the emerging competitive marketplace."