Battle Over Auto Insurance Reform Intensifies

By: Brian Johnson Email
By: Brian Johnson Email

Douglas Mckay and his wife Barbara stopped at the capitol Wednesday during a road trip across the state. The two are retired and live on a fixed income. They try to save money on things like car insurance.

"I shop every six months. Every time I get a premium I go and interview a couple of insurance companies to make sure I'm getting the best rate," said Douglas McKay, who used to work as an accountant.

Many in Michigan have seen their auto insurance rates increase. To solve the problem Representative Lund, who chairs the House Insurance Committee, sponsored House Bill 4612.

"The people of Michigan pay too much for auto insurance and we need to do something about it," said Rep. Lund, a republican from Shelby Township.

Lund says many households in Michigan are paying up to 8 percent of their income on auto insurance.

He thinks the way to solve the problem is by reducing the amount healthcare providers charge insurance companies, rather than the four to five times the normal price for a procedure that they currently charge.

However healthcare providers think that would only hurt those who have been in serious accidents--people who they say depend on the unlimited coverage Michigan's no-fault provides.

"Many people who have experienced this in their families would say to you, I was the person who thought these rates are just too high, 'Why are we paying this?' and then it was my kid that was in the accident and now I know," said Laura Appel who works for the Michigan Health and Hospital Association.

Healthcare providers point the finger at insurance companies, saying the companies pocket the high premiums, noting many are fortune 500 companies.

"It doesn't take a mathematician to figure out where the problem is. The problem is in the growing cost of medical care," said Lori Conarton, who works for the Insurance Institute of Michigan.

Over the last 12 years, the average collision repair cost increased about $700. Whereas the average personal injury claim has risen $32,000.

The high payouts drive the cost of insurance up. Insure.com says Michigan has the second highest car insurance rates in the nation.

Insurance companies say the high healthcare costs which drive costs up have forced about 20 percent of drivers to not buy auto insurance. Instead they want the bill to become a law and in return promise to pass considerable savings onto drivers.

The bill currently faces a lot of opposition. Besides healthcare provider lobbyists, the democratic caucus has come out against the bill. If however enough republicans will vote for it, the bill would pass both the House and the Senate.

While the battle unfolds in Lansing, the best way for drivers across the state to currently save money is by avoiding tickets and accidents, raising deductibles and by shopping around.

The McKays recently switched their provider and saved 33 percent on their coverage during the next six months.

"It's much better," said Douglas McKay. "$200 is significant."

For more information about the bill and how to save money check out the links below.


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