Michigan Senate Republicans on Jan. 15 introduced a statement bill signaling intent to reform the state’s no-fault auto insurance reform law, using their first proposal of the two-year session to renew calls to reduce rates.
House Republicans also are set to aggressively target auto insurance reforms and on Jan. 14 announced plans to create a temporary special committee to consider options.
Senate Bill 1 does not include specific reform proposals but will serve as a starting point for future negotiations on how to cut rates that regularly rank among the highest in the nation.
“The singular goal here is to reduce auto insurance rates across the state,” said Amber McCann, a spokeswoman for Senate Republicans, who have a 22-16 majority over Democrats.
Sen. Aric Nesbitt, a Lawton Republican who helped shepherd major energy policy legislation through the House in late 2016, will lead the auto insurance reform push this term in the upper chamber.
Debate is expected to include past proposals to create a no-fault fee schedule for hospitals and eliminate a unique mandate requiring all auto insurance plans to guarantee unlimited lifetime medical benefits and instead give motorists the option to choose reduced-price, reduced-coverage policies.
“Everything needs to be on the table as we begin this,” Nesbitt told reporters. "I'd like to see some choice provided to drivers. I’d like to see ways to control costs to make sure that we’re … making our rates more affordable.”
Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, with whom Republican legislators will have to work on any major reforms, also vowed to address the state’s high auto insurance rates as part of her campaign plan to fight urban poverty. The state must prohibit “redlining” by prohibiting insurers from setting rates based on geography and other non-driving factors, Whitmer said.
Attorney General Dana Nessel, who also took office Jan. 1, on Jan. 15 announced the creation of a new Auto Insurance Fraud Specialist position in her office and named Keisha Glenn to the post. The Detroit native “spent six years fighting against auto insurance fraud in metro Detroit” as an attorney at Hackney Grover, PLLC and Scarfone & Green, P.C., Nessel’s office said.