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Department figures show revitalized Auto insurance market.

TRENTON, N.J., August 10 -- Auto insurance premiums have dropped $68 in the last two years, a result of companies cutting their rates to stay competitive in the New Jersey auto insurance market.

This surge in an industry toping $5 billion in premiums a year is the direct result of the 2004 car insurance law that eased restrictions, phased out the mandate that forced companies to insure high risks, allowed better profit margins, and eased up on rigid bureaucracy.

Latest figures from the Insurance Department placed the average yearly premium in 2006 to insure a car one year with liability, collision, comprehensive, and medical at $1,099.

Marshall McKnight, Insurance Department spokesman, said the average rates are based on company data filed with the department.

In 2004 the figure was $1,167. It dropped to $1,102 in 2005.

And it could drop further when the full results for 2007 are in because companies are continuing to reduce their rates in a market that yielded $5.7 billion in premiums last year.

For those familiar with the wars between politicians and auto insurance executives 20 years ago, today's car insurance scene is competitive and serene by comparison. There are no companies fleeing the market, there are no longer two and three years of waiting for a decision on rate increases, and companies are no longer forced by law to insure motorists they don't want to insure.

The department fact sheet on car continued from page 8 insurance shows the progress. It reports:

* Companies reduced their rates and gave dividends of $955 billion from 2003 to the middle of this year;

* There are 5.2 million cars insured, a steady increase since 2003 when the figure stood at 5 million;

* Consumer complaints about auto insurance have dropped by more than half, from 6,100 complaints in 2003 to the 2,463 lodged last year;

* The assigned risk plan covered 61,016 motorists in 2006, a drop of 82,500 motorists in three years, indicating a healthy voluntary market.

The news is even brighter as the latest filings with the department shows that GEICO has reduced its rates another 4.1 percent, Hanover by five percent, and Founders by 2.1 percent. Earlier this year, Allstate and State Farm also cut rates, and New Jersey Manufacturers returned $7 million in dividends to its customers last December.

Assemblyman Louis Greenwald (D-Camden), a co-sponsor of the 2004 insurance legislation, said, "This a direct example of what competition will bring."

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Title Annotation:NEW JERSEY
Author:Zarate, Vincent R.
Publication:Insurance Advocate
Date:Aug 27, 2007
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