News Release

Commissioner Holly C. Bakke

For Immediate Release:   December 31, 2002

For Further Information::   Mary Caffrey - (609) 292-5064


TRENTON, N.J. - Banking and Insurance Commissioner Holly C. Bakke has formally extended the "Last Chance" program for uninsured drivers, giving them until February 28, 2003, to take advantage of this opportunity to drive legally. The program was scheduled to expire today.

"Last Chance," which began in mid-September, waives certain underwriting surcharges for drivers who can only be insured through the residual market, formally known as the New Jersey Personal Automobile Insurance Plan. These drivers, who face the greatest financial hurdles to become insured, can save between $115 and $1,035 through the program.

"Many drivers have taken advantage of 'Last Chance,' but more can and should," Commissioner Bakke said. "For many, the biggest obstacle to getting insured is cost. We have taken steps to make sure that low-cost insurance options are available and want to give those still interested in 'Last Chance' a few more weeks to get insured."

Commissioner Bakke decided two weeks ago to extend "Last Chance" due to the resistance some drivers have faced when considering the Basic Policy. This low-cost option offers minimum coverage at a price that can be hundreds of dollars below the cost of the Standard coverage most drivers buy.

After Commissioner Bakke began promoting the Basic Policy and "Last Chance" in September, many callers to the Department reported that agents either did not know about the Basic Policy or refused to sell it. As a test, Commissioner Bakke asked Department investigators to pose as drivers interested in buying the Basic Policy. On December 20, the Commissioner issued a series of Orders to Show Cause asking companies and agencies to explain why investigators who tried to buy a Basic Policy were unable to do so.

"An important component of 'Last Chance' is providing a range of insurance options, including the Basic Policy," she said. "When we heard from consumers that they were having trouble purchasing a Basic Policy, we were concerned that some uninsured drivers missed out on 'Last Chance' due to resistance in the marketplace."

Through December 27, 2002, the number of drivers who became insured through "Last Chance" was 16,616. Of those, 14,869 purchased a Standard Policy, while 1,747 purchased a Basic Policy.

"We are pleased that more than 16,000 uninsured drivers are now legal," Commissioner Bakke said. "We hope that our actions will allow thousands more to become legal before February ends."

"Last Chance" waives underwriting surcharges for those who have a conviction for driving uninsured or failed to pay their premium, causing their policy to be canceled. The program waives underwriting surcharges only; all court costs and surcharges to the Division of Motor Vehicles must be paid.

A copy of the order, A02-130, appears at