Reforming New Jersey’s Auto Insurance System

Years of government over-regulation left New Jersey’s auto insurance market in a state of near collapse.  Auto insurers were fleeing New Jersey to escape a regulatory burden that made doing business unpredictable and unprofitable.  With few auto insurers remaining, drivers needing auto insurance had difficulty buying it.

The public relations campaign I led for the Coalition for Auto Insurance Competition sought to educate legislators, opinion leaders, and the general public that modernizing the state’s auto insurance regulations would end the crisis.  The campaign aimed to change how New Jerseyans spoke and thought about auto insurance, shifting the discussion from its perceived high cost to the problem of availability.

The strategy I recommended and executed focused on delivering our message to newspaper editorial boards.  Editorial boards met with us to understand the crisis and our proposed remedy.  The results exceeded expectations.  Positive editorials appeared in nearly every major daily newspaper in New Jersey, the Wall Street Journal, and the Philadelphia Inquirer.  No newspaper editorialized against our effort.

The campaign also activated the state’s auto insurance industry employees.  Alerted by e-mail whenever the governor or insurance commissioner were scheduled to appear on radio call-in shows, employees called the programs to air the campaign’s message and keep the executive branch’s attention on the auto insurance issue.

We also pitched public affairs television and radio shows, successfully placing client spokespeople on programs airing in the New York and Philadelphia media markets.

On June 9, 2003, our work culminated with Governor McGreevey signing into law legislation reforming and modernizing the state’s regulation of auto insurance. (PDF version)