Friday, 18 January 2019 19:57

MI Lawmakers Target No-Fault Auto Insurance Law in Push to Cut High Rates

Written by Beth LeBlanc and Jonathan Oosting, The Detroit News


The GOP legislation that was introduced Jan. 15 is heading to the Senate Insurance and Banking Committee, chaired by Sen. Lana Theiss, R-Brighton, who led reform efforts in the House last session but did not take up Democratic bills to address redlining or non-driving rate factors.


"I am hoping, as the Democratic vice chair (of the committee), that we will have a much more robust conversation around all of those issues," said Sen. Erika Geiss, D-Taylor. "I think we need to do much better about making sure that people understand what the factors are that lead to having such high rates here and mitigating those issues.”


Republican Sen. Pete Lucido of Shelby Township on Jan. 15 introduced a separate series of auto insurance reform proposals, including bills to require more transparency and create a fraud prevention authority.


Senate Majority Leader Shirkey, R-Clarklake, plans to go “right down the middle of the issue” rather than side with any interest groups whose aggressive lobbying has thwarted reform efforts in past years, McCann said.


“Sen. Shirkey won’t be siding with any stakeholders,” she said. “He’s directed Sen. Nesbitt to dig into the issue and leave no stone unturned.”


Legislators have tried for years to reform the state's auto insurance laws, but efforts have repeatedly stalled amid intense lobbying from hospitals, the insurance industry and trial lawyers.


“I want to be on the side of the people, on the side of the drivers,” Nesbitt said. “I think that’s a lot more important than having special interest groups in Lansing be on your side.”


Michigan’s highest-in-the-nation rates are “wrong” and “it’s driving business out of the state, driving residents out of the state and leading motorists to drive illegally without insurance," Nesbitt said.


“You drive down the costs, [and] you’ll increase the amount of folks that actually take up auto insurance, and you lower the additional cost for the other driving public,” he added. “That’s how insurance works.”


The new House committee, chaired by Rep. Jason Wentworth, will be responsible for crafting legislation that lowers auto insurance premiums, addressing "one of the most pressing issues facing the states."