BULLETIN NO. 02-08

To: ALL NEW JERSEY PRIVATE PASSENGER AUTOMOBILE INSURERS

From:

HOLLY C. BAKKE, COMMISSIONER
RE: PRIVATE PASSENGER AUTOMOBILE INSURANCE ELIGIBILITY FOR PERSONS WITH VISA STATUS OF ONE YEAR OR LESS:

Effective November 19, 2001, Motor Vehicle Services requires a person from a foreign country whose Immigration and Naturalization Service visa is for a duration of one year or less to utilize the driver's license from his or her home country during the person's presence in the United States. The purpose of this Bulletin is to address the impact of this Motor Vehicle Services requirement on insurers.

The Department has received numerous complaints that persons affected by the November 19, 2001 requirement have been unable to obtain private passenger automobile insurance as "eligible persons". N.J.A.C. 11:3-34.4 defines an "eligible person" as "a person who is an owner or registrant of an automobile registered and principally garaged in this State or is a resident and holds a valid New Jersey driver's license to operate an automobile" (emphasis added). To be considered an eligible person, a person must satisfy only one of the two elements of the definition. Therefore, if a person with visa status of one year or less is utilizing his or her home country's license and is "an owner or registrant of an automobile registered and principally garaged in this State", he or she is an "eligible person."

N.J.S.A. 17:33B-15(b) states in pertinent part that, "No insurer shall refuse to insure, refuse to renew, or limit coverage available for automobile insurance to an eligible person who meets its underwriting rules as filed and approved by the Commissioner . . . ." Previous approval of underwriting guidelines did not address the issue of an "eligible person" who is precluded from receiving a New Jersey or U.S. driver's license. Accordingly, insurers need to adjust their underwriting guidelines to reflect these persons as "eligible persons". In addition, companies using underwriting guidelines affected by the Motor Vehicle Services requirement, that is, any insurer whose existing guidelines exclude drivers who do not have a New Jersey driver's license or do not obtain one within 60 days, must change their underwriting practices immediately to reflect the definition of "eligible person". Changes to underwriting guidelines must be filed for approval within 30 days of the date of this Bulletin at the following address:

State of New Jersey
Department of Banking and Insurance
Office of Property and Casualty
P.O. Box 325
Trenton, NJ 08625-0325

5/6/02 /s/ Holly C. Bakke