Insurance companies, government officials, and national organizations hailed Massachusetts Insurance Commissioner Nonnie Burnes for the changes she introduced to the auto insurance industry. State Gov. Deval Patrick recently announced that Burnes would step down to pursue a teaching career at Northeastern University.
Burnes finished her law degree at the said university and became the state’s insurance commissioner in February 2007. During her term, she introduced a new car insurance scheme which ushered in more providers, increasing competition, which eventually led to cheaper auto insurance coverage. Burnes’ firm decision to abolish the state-set rating system draw flak from conservatives and Republican lawmakers. Critics of her program said that by allowing insurers to set insurance rates, residents in Massachusetts may have to actually pay more. Supporters of the new scheme, on the other hand, cited the influx of several new providers, resulting in competitive prices.
Massachusetts State Gov. Patrick praised Burnes for what he said was “the introduction of balanced, consumer-oriented competition to our auto insurance market.” Patrick added that her commitment to change the three-decade old state-controlled rating system opened the floodgates for new insurance companies to enter the market and give car owners more choices.
Even the National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies (NAMIC) heaped praises on Burnes and her legacy. Representatives from the NAMIC credited Burnes for the introduction of a competitive rating system, making it easier for motorists to look for better-priced alternatives and not rely solely on government mechanisms to set rates. Paul Tetrault, NAMIC’s Northeast state affairs manager, hailed the former insurance commissioner for staying steadfast in her commitment to change the Massachusetts auto insurance market in the state despite all the criticism and doubts.
Independent think tanks also hailed Burnes’ actions and decisions during her stint as state insurance commissioner. According to Competitive Enterprise Institute, Burnes’ efforts led to the entry of 11 new insurance providers in the state, giving car owners more choices when it comes to insurance policies. A representative from the private research firm said that despite the long-standing policies enacted by Republican law and policymakers in the state, Burnes was able to break free from the conservative outlooks to introduce radical changes in the insurance market, thus making it possible for new providers to offer competitive rates. The same think tank praised Burnes for changing the insurance landscape in Massachusetts in just two short years, paving the way for a freer insurance market.