Pa. insurance commissioner educates York students about choices

Junior Gonzalez
  • PA Insurance Commissioner Teresa Miller visited Martin Library in York on Monday.
  • She taught students about the importance of getting proper levels of healthcare coverage.

Pennsylvania Insurance Commissioner Teresa Miller visited Martin Library in York on Monday morning to teach students about the importance of financial literacy regarding auto insurance.

Pennsylvania Insurance Commissioner Teresa Miller teaches students and community members  about the importance of choosing the right insurance during an "Insurance 101" lesson at the Martin Library.

Miller was joined by Deputy Education Secretary Glenn Miller, who stressed the importance of libraries.

“For generations, libraries have been the place where resource collaboration has always happened,” Glenn Miller said. He added the collaboration between the state and the nonprofit and private sectors to bring this program forth under the Pennsylvania Library Association's PA Forward initiative is one example of Gov. Tom Wolf’s commitment to education.

Teresa Miller said financial education programs such as PA Forward are “absolutely vital” to help consumers understand the insurance services they’re paying for.

The commissioner interacted with two students from Helen Thackston Charter School and others present during an Insurance 101 lesson.

“Driving is one of the first adult responsibilities we have,” Teresa Miller said to the students.

She started the presentation by noting statistics about teen drivers. Among them was a statistic that 97 percent of teens say that text messaging while driving is dangerous, but 43 percent do so anyway.

Teresa Miller said the statistic is one of the reasons why students pay more for insurance. She also noted increased rates of intoxicated driving as well as increased collisions.

“You guys are dangerous,” she said jokingly.

The interactive course featured information about deductibles, tort and factors in choosing insurance packages.

“The decisions you make could cost a lot of money,” Teresa Miller said, “as much as a $1,000 difference between insurance companies per year.”

During her presentation, she asked Helen Thackston senior Maleek McLaurin if he was ready to pay for insurance.

“That’s not the plan,” he responded, which drew a humorous response from the audience.

At the end, Teresa Miller went through an interactive game where the students were given two options in a situation to see what consequences they might face.

One situation involved a scenario where Jack, the presentation’s fictitious 16-year-old high school student, has a break between classes and has the option to either go to a fast-food restaurant or go home and eat something instead.

When asked which option to choose, McLaurin said he'd get fast food, and in doing so, he hit a pylon sign at the fast food drive-thru, breaking off a side mirror.

In almost every scenario, the students chose an incident where they ended up in an accident that required them to pay a $500 deductible for incidents such as side-view mirror damage or a collision from distracted driving.

Natasha Rodriguez, a junior at Helen Thackston, said the interactive scenarios opened her eyes and would open the eyes of many of her peers.

“They don’t know about (insurance options) when they’re our age," she said, "They just think, ‘I want to go out.’”

Teresa Miller encouraged the students to shop around for competitive prices, as well as maintaining a healthy GPA to take advantage of good grade discounts from insurers.

Other initiatives: Teresa Miller also said she is working with Education Secretary Pedro Rivera to get the educational insurance lesson implemented in more schools across the state.

She recalled visiting Central Dauphin East High School last year for a similar lesson and finding that the students already learned the curriculum at the school.

“I thought, ‘Oh my gosh!’” she said.

— Reach Junior Gonzalez by email at or on Twitter at @EducationYD.