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Holiday q&a: carpetbaggers and more.

Sometimes I learn more by listening to questions, than hearing the answers. That's especially true when the questions come from numerous agents and brokers across New Jersey. When many of the same questions are repeated by these insurance professionals, I listen carefully, that way I can get a good perspective on our Garden State marketplace.

Here are a few of those questions:

Broker: Boy, oh boy, my personal lines writing is down. That includes home and auto, but the auto is worse. When is that going change?

JKD: There won't be a change for a long time. GEICO's New Jersey loss ratio dropped, and it's obvious to everyone that the gecko is making big bucks in our state.

Broker: But John, that doesn't help the New Jersey economy.

JKD: What do you mean?

Broker: Well, GEICO is pulling in hundreds of millions of dollars from New Jersey consumers. The only benefit our state economy receives from GEICO is a claims office. Everything else goes to another state.

JKD: And don't forget 21st Century, and all the others. Yes, I always have a good laugh when people talk about a "competitive market" and how it benefits folks here in New Jersey.

Broker: These carpetbagger insurers enter our state, take a billion dollars out of the New Jersey economy, and our politicians in Trenton think that's great?

JKD: Those insurance premiums now go to employ workers and pay salaries in cities outside of New Jersey, such as Cleveland and Washington D.C. That's hard cash taken out of New Jersey!

Broker: I hope our senators and assemblymen do not start looking into other New Jersey industries.

JKD: Can you imagine if they wanted to develop a "competitive market" for the cranberry business? Instead of promoting our own cranberry industry, they'd be importing cranberries from North Carolina or Cape Cod.

Another Agent: Did someone say competitive market? Yes, I have clients that have saved premium monies, but I also have others that are paying more than ever.

JKD: Ah, that's tier rating.

Agent: Currently, I have multiple auto insurance companies that I deal with. The problem is feeding all of them.

JKD: Most agents tell me that their personal auto volume is down, way down.

Agent: Not only do we have to compete with advertising, but we also compete at the point of sale.

JKD: How is that?

Agent: All of my insurers require that we run MVRs at the point of sale. In fact, our insurers require it to bind coverage. Many of the direct writers do not run MVRs until much later.

JKD: And when the direct writers pick up points later, they increase the premium?

Agent: Yes, but they already have the client signed up and on the hook.

Another Broker: So, New Jersey is still number one for car insurance premiums in the nation.

JKD: Yep, we are still number one.

Broker: What happened to the so-called 'competitive market' lowering premiums?

JKD: Some say it's still coming, yet others say that our state is so densely populated that we will always be high.

Broker: Seems like some are speaking with forked tongues.

JKD: Perhaps, but there are insurers that are selling less coverage, which may eventually lower the average premium. One insurer's PIP option defaults to "Option A" which is $15,000, not $250,000.

Broker: That's GEICO. Why are they permitted to list it as just Option A? In other words, why don't they just spell out $15,0007

JKD: I see you've lost some of your $250,000 PIP clients to GEICO'S Option A.

by John Kerry Dyke, CPCU
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Title Annotation:FOCUS ON NEW JERSEY
Author:Dyke, John Kerry
Publication:Insurance Advocate
Date:Dec 17, 2007
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