Michigan Senate GOP: Cutting Car Insurance Rates a Priority

By | February 4, 2019

Michigan Senate Republicans have proposed legislation that would make it optional for Michigan drivers to buy what is now mandatory unlimited medical coverage.

Senate Bill 1 was the first to be introduced by GOP senators who control the chamber, an indication that it is important for the majority. The measure lacks many specifics, which Republicans said is meant to show they are open to examining every area of the no-fault law.

“I think as we heard last year loud and clear from citizens throughout Michigan, we need to lower the cost of auto insurance. We need to make sure that we make rates more affordable for the driving public,” said the sponsor, Republican Sen. Aric Nesbitt of Lawton.

Previous efforts to curtail Michigan’s high auto insurance premiums have resulted in legislative stalemates, with some of the state’s biggest political spenders and lobbyists — hospitals, insurers, business groups, plaintiffs’ attorneys, health providers and insurance agents — lining up on various sides.

Michigan, the only state to require unlimited lifetime coverage for medical expenses resulting from auto crashes, allows health providers to bill car insurers much more for care than health insurers pay. A $192 annual per-vehicle fee also is assessed to reimburse car insurers for expenses surpassing $555,000 for the catastrophically injured.

The new legislation says in-state drivers pay car insurance rates that are on average 83 percent higher than the national average. It states Republicans’ intent to let motorists age 63 and older with Medicare or other lifetime health care benefits not pay personal injury protection fees. Younger drivers could choose a lower amount of personal injury protection coverage, and health providers could be restricted from billing auto insurers more for medical services.

Groups on opposite sides of the debate — the insurance industry and Michigan Brain Injury Provider Council — welcomed legislative leaders’ commitment to making changes to the car insurance system.

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Insurance Journal West February 4, 2019
February 4, 2019
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