Evaluating the AG
Mass. Attorney General Martha Coakley's office marks dubious victories for consumers over car insurers.
Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley’s first two insurance-related actions strike me (and others in the industry) as bizarre. Her office levied relatively minor penalties on major insurers, while highlighting the constrained characteristics of the Bay State’s auto insurance market. No, insurance companies are not allowed to offer discounts based on driver’s education or car features, as Liberty Mutual letters to drivers nationwide did. Nor can they suggest that the 2007 rate cut is exclusive to any one company, as recent Commerce Insurance Company ads might have suggested.
Commerce obviously has an edge with its AAA discount program -- it will merely need to clarify it's only a 5% in the future. Halting Liberty Mutual’s direct-mail efforts does eliminate any inference that the insurer offers exclusive premium breaks to Commonwealth consumers that are unfamiliar with the concept of fine print. However, both actions call attention, though, to reasons why insurers with a broader focus than Massachusetts prefer not to do business here. It's relatively unnecessary to make yourself stand out among the crowd.