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January 05, 2005

21st Century Insurance Expands to Serve Consumers in Newly Deregulated Texas Market

21st Century Insurance Group (NYSE:TW), a pioneer in direct-to-consumer marketing of personal automobile insurance, began selling auto insurance policies in Texas this week to provide consumers with the benefits of the recently deregulated Texas auto insurance market. The first policy was purchased by a Texas consumer shortly after 8 a.m. CST on Monday.

"Texans now have more and better choices for their auto insurance," said Bruce Marlow, President and Chief Executive Officer of 21st. "The deregulation makes it possible for us to offer our superior policy contract, 24/7 policy service and highly competitive pricing to this market."

In addition to offering policies to Texas consumers, 21st's commitment to Texas includes:

-- Recently opening a customer service center in Lewisville, Texas, with over 150 employees.

-- Publishing "The Consumer Guide to Buying Texas Auto Insurance," which compares the policy contracts, service features and prices of leading companies in the state.

-- Forming a historic partnership with Gov. Rick Perry and the Texas Department of Public Safety to conduct child safety seat inspection and installation fairs in 2005. 21st and Gov. Perry will also distribute a "Child Safety Seats: A Parent's Guide" in both English and Spanish.

-- Underwriting policies through 21st Century Insurance Company of the Southwest, an insurance company to be domiciled in Texas and member of the 21st Century Insurance Group. All 21st companies are rated A+ by A.M. Best Company.

Texas law SB 14 eliminated excessive regulations on the auto insurance marketplace. Under the former system, Texas drivers were lumped into a few overly broad categories, causing many drivers to pay too much for their insurance. Under the new reforms, a much wider range of prices and policy contract features is available to Texas consumers. But the only way for consumers to benefit from this new law is to call or go online with companies like 21st that provide information about competitor policy coverage and prices.

Competitive Texas Market Mirrors Long-held 21st Philosophy: It Pays to Shop Around!

To help consumers compare companies in the new deregulated Texas market, 21st has published "The Consumer Guide to Buying Texas Auto Insurance." The "Consumer Guide" includes actual Texas price comparisons from ZIP Codes across the state, explanations of the declarations page of a policy, comparisons of policy features, descriptions of limits and deductibles, and phone numbers and Web sites for the Top 10 auto insurers.

The Texas insurance premium survey found in the "Consumer Guide" reveals that auto insurance policy coverage and rates can vary dramatically--sometimes by more than $1,500--among leading companies. For example, a married couple in their late 20s with clean driving records and living in one of the Texas communities below, the differences between the highest and lowest prices charged by other insurance companies were large.

      CITY          PRICES CAN VARY BY:
     Dallas                    $2,183
    Houston                    $1,756
     Austin                    $1,772
  San Antonio                  $1,507
    El Paso                    $1,911

"Pricing differences are important but are just one factor to consider," said Jim Reeves, Assistant Vice President, Texas Product Manager at 21st Century Insurance. "For example, only 21st always specifies Original Equipment Replacement Parts for body repairs and will pay 100 percent of your original purchase cost if your new car or truck is totaled in the first year of ownership."

"In addition to price, it makes sense to consider policy features and service options," he added. "Too many people end up paying too much money for the wrong coverage, with a company that isn't available when they need them. Policy features like free towing and roadside assistance or the 24/7 availability of licensed professionals offered by 21st can really make a big difference in getting the most for your money."

Copies of the "Consumer Guide" can be obtained by visiting 21st.com or by calling 1-800-211-SAVE (English) or 1-888-920-2121 (Spanish).

21st Offers Policies, Jobs--and a Strong Commitment to Safety

21st has a long established tradition of supporting the communities it serves. To that end, 21st has formed an historic partnership with Gov. Rick Perry and the Texas Department of Public Safety to conduct five child safety seat inspection and installation fairs in 2005. The child safety seat events will take place in Corpus Christi, Houston, San Antonio, Austin and Dallas and are modeled after the company's successful efforts in California and Illinois. 21st Century will also distribute a "Parent's Guide on Child Seat Safety" in both English and Spanish. This guide will soon be available at 21st.com.

"We see a real need in the community for information and assistance with child safety seats--73 percent of child seats are installed incorrectly and many others are too small, too big or have been recalled," said Joyce Prager, Assistant Vice President, Community Relations for 21st. "We've donated over 2,300 child safety seats and inspected over 3,000 to make sure all of our children are safe."

Expansion Follows Lewisville Customer Service Center Opening

While 21st began selling policies this week, its expansion into the Texas market follows the recent opening of a customer service center in Lewisville. The new center, which employs over 150 people, is the company's third service center overall and first outside of California. The Lewisville facility will allow the company to more seamlessly provide 24-hour, 7-days-a-week service to its Texas and Midwestern customers. The service center will celebrate its formal grand opening January 28, 2005.

Posted by Tom Troceen