The Cure Car Insurance Company started in the 1990s as the New Jersey Citizens United Reciprocal Exchange to provide auto insurance in the Garden State when premiums were high and auto insurance was hard to get. The name was changed to CURE Auto Insurance once the company began to expand outside of New Jersey.

The company has headquarters in Princeton, New Jersey. They are currently licensed to sell auto insurance in the states of Pennsylvania and New Jersey. The company heralds itself as a not-for-profit exchange with a main goal of keeping auto insurance rates low for responsible drivers.

How is the CURE Car Insurance Company different?

CURE Auto Insurance Company operates differently from other auto insurance providers. Firstly, they do not use personal information that they determine to be discriminatory in factoring auto insurance rates. Typical vehicle insurers utilize information such as a credit score, education level, the type of job a customer has, or home ownership status to determine risk factors to set insurance rates.

CURE believes that the use of this type of information is discrimination against those who have poor credit, an education below a bachelor’s degree, a blue-collar job and who do not own a home. They feel this information does not indicate a driver’s responsibility level; they maintain that these factors cause some drivers to have 50% higher insurance rates through regular insurance companies.

CURE is also different in that they operate in a not-for-profit fashion. They do not use agents who receive a commission that eats into profits. Those profits are also not paid out to shareholders; any profits or surpluses go to benefiting the policyholder members.

A 2001 article in The Home News Tribute, a central New Jersey newspaper, reviewed the operations of CURE. Drivers must meet certain criteria to be eligible to join the exchange. They must have been licensed to drive for at least three years and have a decent driving record without a pattern of high risk. Drivers who have multiple accidents, tickets, points on their license, or a DUI in their household in the last five years will not be eligible.

Members pay a management fee into a pool once a year and all coverage lasts for a 12-month period rather than the typical six months of coverage. That money then goes to paying operating costs and claims. Members share the risk and cost of the overall insurance. Fraudulent claims and accident claims take money away from the pool and surpluses add money to the pool or reduce premiums. CURE believes this keeps premiums low as members will try to personally keep costs down by driving more safely and keeping their claims on the level.

Market Shares and Financial Information

The National Association of Insurance Commissioners listed CURE as having over $45 million in direct business written in New Jersey and over $1 million in Pennsylvania at the end of 2011. Assets were listed as over $81 million and liabilities were above $57 million. Both premiums written and surpluses show a three-year growth trend from 2009 to 2011.

The National Association of Insurance Commissioners also calculated the total auto insurance premiums written in New Jersey in 2010 at over $7 billion. This gives CURE approximately a .006% share of the market in New Jersey.

Marketing and Commercials

CURE advertises in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. The company has chosen a round, blue circle with eyes and a mouth as a spokeshead for the company. Commercials are relatively short, about 10 seconds, and very low budget. They include the blue circle highlighting other auto insurance providers’ use of credit scores, education level, and other factors to determine auto rates. The auto insurance giant GEICO is mentioned a multiple number of times.

The company drew some criticism from one ad that include a beeped expletive when the blue circle said, “Some car insurance companies think that credit scores and education have something to do with driving. (Beep) them. What? You can’t say (beep)?” However, CURE seems unfazed as the topic is introduced by the blue circle himself in a first-person introductory narrative on their website.

The company was in the news again in 2008 when chief operating officer Eric Poe went on news programs such as CNBC and before Congress to discuss the use of credit history and other factors to determine insurance rates. CURE’s stance is that average Americans are required to pick up the tab for the largest percent of the auto insurance industry due to factors other than driving risk. Those with high incomes and education levels pay a lesser percentage even though they might not be better or safer drivers.

CURE’s Ratings and Awards

A 2005 report from BestWire stated that CURE had an A++, or superior rating from A.M. Best. A.M. Best is a rating agency that is designated as a national ratings company by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. The ratings indicate a strong financial platform for the company, designating the company as low risk for default. Current ratings were unavailable from A.M. Best.