The state House of Representatives voted 155-0 on Thursday to approve a bill that would make permanent the board that rules on drivers’ appeals of motor vehicle insurance surcharges. The Republican reports that this vote would “…enshrine the state Division of Insurance’s Board of Appeal in state law and strip away the power of an insurance commissioner to unilaterally abolish the board.”
Nonnie S. Burnes
Yesterday on Beacon Hill, Commissioner Burnes stated that she will retain the state board allowing drivers to appeal auto insurance surcharges. As Boston.com reports, supporters of the board process were satisfied with Burnes’ change of position on this matter and believe that it is best for the consumer. Whether or not the Appeals Board will be around in the long term remains to be seen.
The Boston Globe is reporting on the frustration of agents who specialize in high-risk drivers over the new rules effective April 1 which will, they say, cost them their jobs. The agents also fear that the new rules will leave many drivers without coverage. Insurance Commissioner Burnes countered with graphical evidence that there was a distribution of agents across the state who are not being picked up by insurance companies.
On its editorial pages,the Worcester Telegram & Gazette tackles the question of whether or not the auto appeals board is truly obsolete due to the introduction of managed competition in Massachusetts:
The system could be cumbersome, to be sure. However, it remains to be seen whether its replacement — an at-fault review process conducted by the insurer — will be more expeditious or consumer friendly.
One notable point is also stated by the Telegram & Gazette:
Ms. Burnes promises to monitor the change and “issue further guidance” as needed. If the company-driven reviews fail to meet expectations, a prompt return to the appeals system should be among the options in play.
It’s good to know that Insurance Commissioner Nonnie S. Burnes is open to reverting back to the old system and reestablish the appeals board, should this new approach fail. At MassDriver.org, we covered the end of the Massachusetts auto appeals board previously. Be sure to check back here for further updates!
NECN delivers a very important story for Massachusetts auto insurance consumers – if your insurance company raises your rates because of an accident and you think it’s unfair, you won’t be able to appeal it to the commonwealth beginning on April 1. Check out NECN’s reporting:
Here is a key point explained by NECN:
If you feel unfairly surcharged by your insurer, you can dump them and get a new insurer.
This is a worthwhile article from the Providence Journal published in 2007 that goes through some of the common objections to the deregulation of Massachusetts Auto Insurance. For some politicians like Joan Menard, D-Somerset, the primary issue that caused most concern is how competing auto insurance companies in Massachusetts would set rates and what data is at their disposal in making those rates. This particularly articles gives a good early-stage view at how prevailing opinion has developed over time within Massachusetts car insurance circles.
Competition has certainly changed the playing field in the world of Massachusetts Auto Insurance. Although insurance agents continue to provide value to consumers, the increased competition is not desirable for Massachusetts insurance agents because it will change the playing field dramatically for Massachusetts Auto Insurance. One situation with a group of Massachusetts Auto Insurance agents and Massachusetts Insurance Commissioner Nonnie S. Burnes, alleges preferential treatment for newcomers to the Massachusetts Auto Insurance marketplace.
Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley goes public with criticism of the Massachusetts Department of Insurance’s rate comparison site. According to Coakley, the site provides Massachusetts Auto Insurance consumers with inaccurate rates. It’s very important to note, however, that Coakley is not critical of comparison sites in general, but of the rates that the DOI displays.
‘The Web site as it is currently maintained is not only not helpful, it’s misleading,’ Coakley said at a news conference on the day the state switched to a system in which auto insurers, rather than the regulators, set rates for the first time in three decades.
The site advises consumers actual quotes from insurers ‘may differ significantly’ from the samples. Coakley said those warnings don’t make up for the fact that the sample quotes frequently don’t reflect the rate an insurer would actually offer an individual.
Thankfully, there are other additional comparison sites that area available for consumers to use for Massachusetts Auto Insurance purchases.