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Is Competition In The Insurance Industry Benefiting Massachusetts Drivers?

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In 2008, the auto insurance market in Massachusetts was deregulated resulting in major changes for both consumers and insurance carriers alike. As more carriers began to write policies in the state, prices initially dropped.  However, prices have since rebounded and now closely resemble what consumers were paying before the industry was deregulated, according to data from the state Division of Insurance.  The question then arises; Is competition in the industry actually benefiting Massachusetts residents?

Recently, an article titled “Auto Insurance Rates Bounce Back Up In Mass.” was published in the Boston Globe.  The article was written by Deirdre Fernandes and she tries to determine whether or not consumers are benefiting from competition in the auto insurance industry by studying year-to-year comparisons of auto insurance premiums.  Before deregulation, insurance carriers typically had the same prices and offerings for their consumers, prompting larger carriers to avoid writing policies in Massachusetts due to the strict regulation of the industry.

After the deregulation, larger carriers such as Progressive and Geico began writing policies with extremely low premiums, forcing established carriers to lower their prices in order to maintain their business.  Since then, prices have risen as these larger carriers have become more familiar with paying out claims in the state. However, it is important to note that according to Fernandes’ article, repair costs and medical costs (all of which factor into claim payouts) are increasing faster in Massachusetts than across the nation as a whole, which also affect premium prices.

In her article, Fernandes quotes Deirdre Cummings, legislative Director of the Massachusetts Public Interest Research Group who said “If you look at rates and rates are going higher, that’s not in the consumer’s favor.”  Fernandes also plays devil’s advocate by acknowledging the fact that because insurance carriers are no longer regulated, they are able to offer unique services to their customers such as roadside assistance and specific discounts relating to bundling policies together, good student discounts, annual mileage discounts, etc.  Fernandes then quotes Massachusetts Insurance Commissioner Joe Murphy who says “It’s clear that the change in regulation has been a win for consumers”.

While Fernandes does address both sides of the argument, Joe Murphy takes issue with her analysis and wrote a response to her article.  In it, he states “Year-over-year comparisons of auto insurance premiums do not provide a sound foundation for commentary about rate levels or the general health of the insurance market.”  Essentially he argues that the increase in competition gives consumers the power to shop around if their premium does increase, making carriers compete for their business.

The competition also encourages insurance carriers to keep their own profits down so that they can keep premiums as low as possible.  In his response, Murphy says “In the five years prior to 2012, auto insurers in Massachusetts reported virtually zero profit from underwriting, the lowest of any New England state during that same period.”

One of the most important things to take away from both articles is that while insurance premiums may be about the same as they were before deregulation, consumers now have options and the ability to shop around if their premium does go up.  The power is in the hands of the consumer, and they are able to purchase policies not only based on price, but also based on coverage, available discounts, additional services, and much more.

As an independent agency, we are proud to work with many top-rated insurance companies including Commerce, Plymouth Rock, Arbella, Progressive, Safeco, Travelers, and Occidental.  We give our customers options when it comes to purchasing their policy and are unbiased in the quotes we provide. Our goal is to find Massachusetts residents the policy that is right for them.  So, if you’re looking to compare auto insurance rates in Massachusetts and find the best policy for you, get a free quote at MassDrive.com!  Our insurance agents are extremely knowledgeable and will work to find the policy that is right for you!

Photo By: TheBusyBrain

Make Good on Your New Year’s Resolution: Ways to Save on Massachusetts Auto Insurance Rates

Save on Auto Insurance

With 2012 right around the corner, many of us are dreading the credit card bills that can hit us hard after the holiday season.  While there may be many resolutions you aspire to achieve in the coming year, one that MassDrive can help with is saving you money on your auto insurance without adding risk to your everyday life.

At this time of year, expenses are at their highest for most people, which forces them to be more thrifty in their everyday life.  For many drivers, they turn to their auto insurance policy to cut corners. Lowering coverage or selecting only liability are definitely effective in lowering the price of an auto policy, but they also limit the driver should there ever be an incident. Luckily, these are not the only ways to save money on your MA auto insurance rates.

The majority of drivers are unaware of the numerous auto insurance discounts that are available to them when it comes to their auto policy. By doing some research and asking your auto insurer, you can start off the new year on the right foot and get cracking on that save money resolution for 2012:

  • One popular way to save money is by combining an auto and home policy with the same insurance carrier.  This typically results in up to a 5-12% total savings on the policy while also making it more convenient for the insured by having all of their information in one location.
  • Other common insurance discounts can be applied if the insured is willing to: pay in full, list multiple cars on the policy, or by having low mileage on their vehicle.  These factors typically result in a discount of up to 5-10%.
  • An increasing amount of carriers are now also giving discounts for drivers who choose to shop for insurance early. Insurance companies believe that drivers who apply early are more responsible and more likely to make payments on time.  These drivers are rewarded with up to a 5-10% discount depending on the date which they apply for insurance.  To receive this discount, drivers must commit to a policy at least seven days before the effective date, depending on the carrier.
  • Going green can also save you some green! Many carriers, including Progressive, offer discounts of up to 3% for those that are willing to go paperless. This saves trees and money, so what’s not to love about this discount? AAA or motor club members are also eligible for a discount, which varies by carrier but is roughly 5%.
  • Have a child that is away at school? If they are listed on their parent’s insurance, their policy may qualify for the student away at school discount.  Full time students can also help their parents save money by maintaining a GPA of 3.0.  Both situations allow for up to a 5-10% discount to be applied to the policy.

During this time of year, finances are especially tight for many drivers; however, utilizing these tips will help you ring in the New Year by saving on your Massachusetts auto policy! By asking your agent about these auto insurance discounts, you will be on your way to successfully completing one resolution!

Progressive Falls Behind

Flo, the popular Progressive personality, will bring higher premiums with her quirky commercials and price zapping gun this quarter. Progressive entered the Massachusetts auto insurance market two years ago with rates attractively lower than most competitors. The lower premiums however have not endured as Progressive raises their rates for a fourth time since their debut in 2008. The new price increase of 6.63% will raise prices a grad total of about 16% over the last two years.

Andrew Quigg, a Progressive executive in charge of the company’s Massachusetts business states,”We’re still very competitive… Thousands of consumers still shop around and find us to have the lowest cost for auto insurance.” Even so, Progressive has become less and less attractive to the Massachusetts driver as time continues to provided a history of constantly increasing premiums. If these price increases continue to follow their repetitive pattern, Quigg’s statement is unlikely to remain true for long.

Insurance commissioner Joe Murphy told the Boston Globe he believes the deregulated auto insurance market, “has been wildly successful.” And successful it has been. The Massachusetts Division of Insurance reports drivers saved $270 million in the first year of deregulation. Eleven new insurance carriers have entered the Massachusetts auto insurance market since the new system emerged. Before deregulation insurance rates were set by the government and depended upon the driver’s location and driving record only. The new market allows insurance carriers to offer discounts from holding a AAA membership to owning a home. Deregulation holds great potential savings for drivers state wide.

Some critics of the newly deregulated system find it difficult to compare prices through the plethora of new auto insurance carriers. Adjusting to a new system may difficult for some, however it does not have to be difficult for you. MassDrive Direct Auto Insurance understands you have better things to do with your time than compare auto insurance quotes while understanding it is an important process. Here at MassDrive we quickly gather your basic information and compare auto insurance quotes for you!

No longer will you need to worry about comparing rates, coverages between quotes, or stress about discounts – MassDrive has your back. We compare quotes through various Massachusetts insurance carriers helping you find the best price and saving you time. One carriers may offer discounts another does not, in comparing your information through various carriers we help you get the most bang for your buck. And the best part? The quotes are completely free! Give MassDrive a call, one of our friendly representatives will compare your quotes saving you time and money.

Progressive settles charges for $120,000

Why will Progressive be paying Massachusetts $120,000?

If you haven’t heard, Progressive was investigated for its business practices after entering the Massachusetts insurance market in May of 2008. Attorney General Martha Coakley was the first to draw attention to the problem. From the start of their operations until late last year Progressive was comparing their 6 month premium prices with other companies 12 month premium. After Progressive realized they had made a huge mistake they did try to fix their mistakes but it did not help them when the charges were finally settled on May 26, 2009.

Is there any way you can protect yourself from this problem? MassDrive.com makes this easy by finding affordable Massachusetts auto insurance options and comparing them for you! It is crucial that you can get accurate quotes from multiple insurance providers to help you make the best decision. The best deal is only visible when you consider all of your options before making a decision.

Progressive raising their rates in MA – Bait & switch or natural market adjustment??

The Boston Herald reports that Progressive plans to raise their rates in MA starting April 1.   Critics point to this as the bait and switch they were expecting from the Ohio-based insurance company that took 1.2% of the MA auto insurance market in less than a year.  Progressive representatives argue that the rate hike is a natural market adjustment after one year in MA.  What do you think?

'You're Entering Massachusetts,' Progressive

Progressive Auto Insurance is now available for Massachusetts Car Insurance buyers, due to the introduction of competition by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.  According to this article in the Insurance Journal, Progressive is selling its services both directly to consumers and through agents.  According to Cathy Wilton-Bransch, a spokesperson for Progressive:

“We appreciate the work the [Massachusetts Division of Insurance] has done to create a regulatory environment that allows companies to compete for customers. We hope that come May 1, drivers will check out progressive.com and see what we have to offer.”

In a related point, The Insurance Journal notes that Liberty Mutual insurance company plans to return to Massachusetts, as a result of deregulation of the insurance market in Massachusetts.

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