Holyoke Market Departure Leaves Fewer Insurers in Mass.

June 19, 2003

With Holyoke Mutual Insurance Co. entering into an arrangement
to transfer all of its Massachusetts auto insurance business to Plymouth Rock Assurance Corp., the Commonwealth has one less insurer writing auto coverage, reportedly further contributing to an already troubled insurance market.

“This latest defection from the Massachusetts auto market is a clear call for reform in the Commonwealth,” said Gerald Zimmerman, assistant general counsel for the National Association of Independent Insurers (NAII). “Luckily for consumers and insurers, Insurance Commissioner Julie Bowler is dedicated to improving the system to end the drain on writers from the market.”

Zimmerman pointed to legislation that would support a reasonable direct repair system as a way to encourage auto insurers to stay in the market. S.B. 856 provides that an appraiser is not needed when auto damages do not exceed $2,500. The bill also authorizes insurers and appraiser to provide a list of repair facilities that are able to adequately repair a vehicle within the estimate provided by the insurer or appraiser.

“This bill would go a long way toward improving the repair mechanism for insurers writing personal lines auto, and would streamline the repair process for consumers as well,” noted Zimmerman. “This could be one small improvement toward a better overall market in Massachusetts.”

Holyoke announced its plans to stop writing Massachusetts private-passenger auto insurance effective Jan. 1, 2004. Plymouth Rock will
offer five-year contracts to independent agents who represent Holyoke Mutual for the coverage. The Massachusetts Division of Insurance approved the plan.

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