Ma Auto Insurance & the little, green lizard

Never in the history of the Massachusetts Professional, Independent Insurance Agent community, have five letters been so feared.

Not, “t-h-e-f-t.”

Not, “f-r-a-u-d.”

And no, not, “c-l-a-i-m.”

I am talking about “G-E-I-C-O.”

Not since my childhood Godzilla days, have I been so scared of a lizard.

For years they have advertised in our proud, Commonwealth and for years I have smugly told customers, “GEICO? They don’t even write insurance in Massachusetts!”

Nationally they don’t use Independent Agents, either.

They use call centers and service centers and they don’t write home insurance.

When you work with an Independent, Professional Insurance Agent you are working with someone who who has your best interest in mind. You are working with someone who will shop your insurance with many different companies to get you the best rate. You are working with someone who is your advocate at claim time. Who, at GEICO, works as your advocate? Who, at GEICO, sells multi-lines of insurance and shops your insurances with many different companies?

Like the chilly winds of our Massachusetts’ autums, it seems inevitable that GEICO is coming. When? I don’t know. 2009? 2010 at the latest, is my guess.

For now, it is up to the Independent Insurance Agent, to get the best rates for our clients, to package policies and to round accounts. It is time to save our clients money. It is time to advise and to advocate. It is time to demonstrate our value.

Rate Review Reality Check

Here we are, Massachusetts, 18 days into “Managed Competition.” Seems like 18 months.

The other day I was (sort of but not really) bragging about this Massachusetts Auto Insurance BLOG and I was told that my four posts were not enough. Shocked, I was told that I need to BLOG more.  BLOG more? “Dude, it’s a BLOG and you’re my insurance guy.” 

Besides still not being quite sure what a BLOG is (Wikopedia tells me that it’s a “Web Log”), I do know that our Agency has been going crazy learning new rating software, quoting & re-quoting auto and home insurance, applying new discounts and programs, sending out renewals, transferring customers, cancelling policies, writing new business and, probably, drinking too much coffee. 

However, and in an effort to BLOG more, I present a Rate Review Reality Check:

18 days into our new “Managed Competition” auto insurance system and , I think, MA consumers are doing pretty well.

I have, however, seen some very real auto insurance rate casualties:

We have a client that lives in Lynn that renewed last year for $1,168. This year: $1,357.

We have a client that lives in Dorchester that renewed two vehicles last year at $2,960. This year: $3,031.

We have a young married couple (licensed less than six years with 4 points & 10 points on their licenses) and their premium (two vehicles) went from $3,201 to $3,498.

So far it appears that new drivers, drivers with points, drivers that live in urban areas and those without a “companion policy” are the ones that are not going to enjoy the heavily advertised discounts.

Added Value

It seems to me that for the past thirty years, or so, Massachusetts insurance consumers and Professional, Massachusetts Independent Agents have been pushed around by the insurance industry. Enjoying “state set” auto insurance rates, Massachusetts bloated to the fourth highest auto insurance rates in the country and whithered to only 19 auto insurance carriers. I believe the handwriting was on the wall a number of years ago, Massachusetts auto insurance rates plummeted 26% over the past three years. As of April 1, 2008 Massachusetts moved to a “managed competition” system. This move has been good for most consumers with a statewide decrease in auto rates of almost 8%. The rate casualties seem to be those with 10 or more points on their license and new drivers.

With all the industry changes and as a small business owner, I have found myself working harder and working longer. My wife and three babies wonder who this tie-wearing, slightly stressed out, stranger is.  I continue to ask myself, as an Independent Insurance Agency: “Do we add value?” The emphatic answer: YES.

Unlike the Liberty Mutuals and The Amicas, we write insurance with many different companies. We represent our clients, as opposed to representing the companies that we place business with. We spend the time to find out which companies are the best fit for our clients. Some companies have more of an appetite for new drivers, some more of an appetite for the home and auto “account business.”

We are here for our customers whenever they have a claim problem or a billing question. We also offer free Registry of Motor Vehicles service.

We are Professional Insurance Advisors that have the best interest of our customers in mind. We offer multiple lines of insurance and as our customers lives change we are here to assist with all their insurance needs. 

Your Independent Insurance Agent should offer a lifetime of insurance products and services:

Parents put their newly licensed child on their auto policy, the child buys his first car, he moves out of the house and gets an apartment, he opens a business, buys an engagement ring, gets married, buys a home, has a child, buys life insurance, puchases a personal liability umbrella policy, gets rich, buys a vacation property, buys the ’65 Mustang Shelby GT350, and retires.

We are here to help every step of the way.

Auto Insurance Discount Programs

April 1, 2008 has come and gone and Massachusetts’ consumers wonder if they are getting the best deal on auto insurance.

If you have a home, apartment or condominium insurance then make sure you package that policy with your auto. The big, new auto discount is the “Companion policy or Account discount.” For the past 30 years the “account discount” has been applied only to one’s home insurance policy. Discounts are now being applied to auto insurance policies.

If you don’t have a home, condo or apartment policy and don’t plan on getting one (in some cases, it might actually make financial sense to purchase a renter’s policy) then where are the discounts?

Some of the new, April 1st Massachusetts auto insurance discount programs include:







In addition to new programs some companies continue to offer Open Group Discounts.

For example, following please find a link to a listing of Safety Insurance Company’s Open Group Discounts:

These type of Open Group Discounts are discounts in addition to April 1st’s rate decrease, discounts, and insurance programs.

The best way to ensure that you are getting the best rate is to submit a quote request here at

April 1, 2008: Shopping for Mass. Auto Insurance

Pretty cool stuff, this managed competition. I think. I’ve had the great privelege & honor of doing, probably, 200 quotes using the new software and expanding discounts and programs and it is true: consumers are going to save money. However, even once you get your new rate, is it the lowest? Do you have the most consumer friendly product?

Here are some basic April 1, 2008 auto shopping rules:

1.) Package Your Auto & Home Insurance through the same agency/company!

For the first time in 30 years companies are offering an account discount on auto insurance. Discounts available are anywhere from 5% – 10% on the auto & 10% – 20% on the home.

2.) Utilize an Independent Insurance Agency! 

Most Massachusetts Insurance Agencies write business with five auto insurance carriers. By utilizing an Independent Agency you will be utilizing the most valuable tool that the new, managed competition system offers. An Independent Insurance Agency will be most familiar with the different discounts and programs that are available.

3.) Take advantage of available discounts!

This one is, sort of, the tricky one. Different companies offer different discounts and knowing which ones are best for you is where an Independent Insurance Agent should be able to provide you valuable assistance.

When reviewing different companies discounts, however, keep in mind that no matter how many alleged discounts or percentage points companies are promising, the bottom line premium is the most important thing.

Some of the new, April 1, 2008 discounts that are available are:

  • Account discount on your auto if you have a home, apartment or condominium policy with the same company.
  • Improved excellent driver & excellent driver plus discounts (99 & 98 drivers).
  • Pay in full discounts.
  • Hybrid vehicle discount.
  • Advanced driver training discount.
  • Certain college (for example: Boston College & Merrimack College) and organization (for example: Mass Bar Association & Mass Medical Society) discounts.
  • Good student discount (“B”or better)
  • Student away at school discount.

4.)  Make certain that you have the best insurance program!

Massachusetts consumers have long been neglected compared to insurance programs that have been available to out of state auto insurance policy holders.

Some of the new, April 1, 2008 programs that are available include:

  • Disappearing Collision Deductible.
  • Guaranteed Replacement Cost.
  • Emergency Road Travel Expenses.
  • Auto loan/Gap Coverage.
  • Combined bill options.
  • Electronic Funds Transfer billing option/ No service fees.

Massachusetts Auto Insurance Blog

Why a Blog? I, never in my life, thought of myself as a blogger. Yet now, here I am, blogging. My name is Kevin Johnson and I am one of the owners of the family agency, Johnson & Rohan Insurance in Lynnfield, MA. 

We launched in 1999 to provide Massachusetts’ consumers a free, internet insurance quoting service.  

As of April 1, 2008 the auto insurance system in Mass. moves to a “managed competition” system. Now, for the first time since 1977, insurance companies can charge whatever they want for auto insurance rather than the state-set rate of years’ past.

So, why a Blog? The Blog is our attempt to demystify the changes in the auto insurance system and to educate Mass. consumers about different discount and coverage programs.