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Ralph Nader > In the Public Interest > Consumer Insurance Agency

For years I have been urging insurance agents to more vigorously represent their consumers rights and needs rather than place their insurance company principals, whose insurance they sell, first.

Well, two former associates, Mitch Rofsky and Jason Adkins, have decided to start an insurance agency that does just that -­putting consumers or policyholders first. Before the end of the year, this company will shop around for the best auto and home owner insurance buys, but will also provide special information and advocacy for consumers before regulatory agencies and legislatures.

A consumer HOTLINE will give subscribers information about discounts, about what insurance should not be purchased — such as contact lens or cancer insurance (if you have general health insurance) and what defective model cars have been recalled. It will also give you the facts about the state lemon laws.

Rofsky and Adkins will be proposing insurance reforms before state legislatures and will alert consumers to pertinent anti-consumer proposals in Congress such as limiting the court rights of wrongfully injured people against their perpetrators.

In Massachusetts, this agency will defend discounts for subscribers which other insurance agents are fighting to eliminate. No doubt the useful controversies generated by having, for once, an insurance agency systematically fighting for consumer interests in both the marketplace and governmental arenas should be a welcome relief from business as usual.

Insurance agents should have a strong professional interest in advancing auto and home safety. In reality, they have been unenergetic and, at best, exhort rather than mobilize for health and safety standards.

This new agency expects to set an example for other insurance agencies — and they number nationally in the hundreds of thousands — to be sentinels for safety which is also a way to reduce accident-injury claims.

Another innovation by Rofsky and Adkins is their policy to give away one percent of gross premiums to support insurance and auto reforms by non-profit consumer groups. Longer term, they would like to start an environmentally oriented transportation club, a type of a “Green” AAA, to provide the same towing and travel services of AAA without the latter’s baggage of often supporting the auto industry’s highway lobbying at the expense of other important values.

Redressing the imbalance between insurance buyer and seller involves de-mystifying insurance jargon and opening up to you, the buying public, what the insurance industry does not want you to know about.

This is a big challenge for this new agency — one that merits the early interest of alert consumers who are tired of losing insurance premium money down the drain and being hassled by agents and companies when legitimate claims are filed.