Progressive is responding to allegations concerning its quoting practices in Massachusetts.

The Mayfield Village, Ohio-based insurer, which began selling personal auto policies online in Massachusetts only last week, was criticized in a press release from the Massachusetts Association of Insurance Agents. The Association accused Progressive of misleading consumers by offering rate comparisons with dissimilar product offerings from competing insurance companies. Specifically, the agents contend Progressive's rates appear to beat competitors', but leave coverage gaps, and that the company uses quotes for six-month policies, not 12-month policies.

Furthermore, the agents contend the Web site asks visitors for personal information that runs afoul of state regulations regarding the use of credit history and other personal information such as gender and marital status to determine rates. In a statement, the office of Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley said they were reviewing the site.

Progressive issued a point-by-point rebuttal to the charges. “The rate comparisons we offer are always apples-to-apples,” the statement reads. “To the extent possible, we include the identical coverages and options when generating competitor rates as we use in developing the Progressive quote.” The statement also says the company will remove the standard disclosure language pertaining to credit scoring from the site.

In addition, the company reiterated its plans to offer coverage through independent agents in the future.

"We are committed to providing products and services to independent agents to help them compete effectively in the market and to help them grow,” says John Barbagallo, agency operations, Progressive. “Our Massachusetts product is extremely competitively priced and, while it's not available to independent agents in the state yet, we have committed to making it available to them next year."

Sources: Progressive, Boston Globe

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