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Register Your Car, Get Ad Inserts From GEICO

People who register their cars in New York can expect to receive junk mail from GEICO and other advertisers, courtesy of the state Department of...
March 25, 2003

People who register their cars in New York can expect to receive junk mail from GEICO and other advertisers, courtesy of the state Department of Motor Vehicles. As part of a pilot program, drivers who get renewal notices in the mail receive ads enclosed. PIA of New York has asked that the state immediately suspend any mailing of insurance solicitations with vehicle registration materials.

In many if not most cases, the renewal date for auto insurance policies will coincide with the registration date of the vehicle. PIANY contends that it is wrong for the DMV to provide GEICO a competitive advantage by selling an effective surrogate (the registration renewal date) for insurance expiration dates, and giving these solicitations a ride into peoples' homes with official state registration renewal materials. "PIANY believes that sending advertisements for any for-profit enterprise is wrong," said PIANY President David Isenberg in a letter to DMV Commissioner Raymond Martinez. "The endorsement of state government should not be for sale to the highest bidder."

What It Means to Agents:  There are many words that could be used to characterize what the DMV in New York is doing. Suffice it to say this is outrageous. While we sympathize with state governments and their current budget woes, no state government should resort to selling advertising space in their official notices, as this can create the impression of an implied endorsement. Make sure your DMV isn't making the same mistake. Most states and the federal government have a prohibition against state agencies appearing to endorse one private sector entity over another.

We congratulate PIA of New York for taking action to stop this DMV practice. For those of you in other states, please let PIA National know if you receive any official notices from your state that include advertising or other forms of endorsements.

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