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Auto insurer coming to the Garden State in August

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Nationwide Insurance and the state Department of Banking and Insurance announced Friday that the insurer will enter the New Jersey auto market in August 2014.

Nationwide, headquartered in Columbus, Ohio, had $183 billion in total assets as of 2013 and is the nation’s seventh-largest auto insurer. It said it received approval from the New Jersey Department of Banking and Insurance to begin selling standard auto policies here over the phone and Internet and through agents in nearby states.

“We are very pleased to welcome a company of the size and stature of Nationwide Mutual Insurance Co. to New Jersey,” New Jersey Department of Banking and Insurance Commissioner Ken Kobylowski said in a statement. “This is good news for consumers, as it gives them more choices. The company’s decision to begin offering auto insurance policies here also indicates that the state’s insurance market is strong and that the Administration’s pro-growth policies continue to draw business to the state.”

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Although Nationwide has been part of the New Jersey insurance and financial services industry for years, this marks the first time it will be selling auto insurance policies here under its own name since 1981. It currently offers auto policies through its Harleysville unit.

“Nationwide is excited about this opportunity and the commitment the state and the department have made to enhance the regulatory climate in New Jersey,” President and Chief Operating Officer Mark Pizzi said in a statement. “They have opened the doors to more choices for New Jersey residents, and Nationwide is pleased to be a part of this vibrant market. Expanding into the Garden State is an important step in Nationwide’s goal to become a truly national brand.”

According to the DOBI, nine of the top 10 U.S. auto insurers by premium are now writing policies in the state, including State Farm, GEICO, Allstate, Progressive, Farmers, USAA, Liberty Mutual and Travelers. Only American Family does not, among the top 10. A total of 77 active insurance companies and 35 insurance groups write policies in the state, the DOBI said.

“Nationwide’s entry into the market is a major milestone for New Jersey,” Kobylowski said. “The fact that we now have nine of the nation’s 10 largest insurance companies writing auto insurance here is a both a testament to the strength and competitiveness of the market and another indication that New Jersey is a good place to do business.”

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Eric Strauss

Eric Strauss

Eric Strauss is the digital content editor for NJBIZ. He has been a reporter and editor for newspapers in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, as well as for a number of websites. You can contact him at erics@njbiz.com or @acerimrat on Twitter.

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