D.R.I.V.E. legislation is what real reform looks like for Michigan consumers

D.R.I.V.E. legislation is what real reform looks like for Michigan consumers


Cornack: Plan can serve as a strong foundation for continued progress toward a fair, balanced and affordable solution

LANSING, Mich.—(April 23, 2019)— John Cornack, president of the Coalition Protecting Auto No-Fault (CPAN), issued the following statement in response to today’s announcement of new auto no-fault reforms to be introduced by House Democrats.

“The D.R.I.V.E. legislation announced today puts consumers first, and offers a viable compromise that will reduce auto insurance premiums without depriving victims of essential care. This bill would end discrimination based on non-driving rating factors, hold insurance companies accountable through strong consumer protections, and offers true, guaranteed relief on the cost of insurance. This is what real reform looks like for Michigan consumers, and we hope this plan can serve as a strong foundation for continued progress toward a fair and affordable solution.”


CPAN urges Governor Whitmer to protect consumers and veto HB 4397

CPAN urges Governor Whitmer to protect consumers and veto HB 4397

Cornack: Demand a robust and open debate on reforms that lower rates but protect coverage

LANSING, Mich.—(May 14, 2019)— The Coalition Protecting Auto No-Fault (CPAN) is calling on Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to protect consumers and veto HB 4397, which was passed at 2 a.m. last Thursday without any public hearings or debate. To support the need for a veto, CPAN also sent the governor a summary of 20 reasons why the bill creates more problems than it solves.

In a letter sent to Gov. Whitmer, CPAN President John Cornack noted that the bill strips consumers of important rights and benefits currently available, and does not guarantee a reduction in the total cost of consumers’ auto insurance premiums.

“The process that the House and Senate Republican leaders undertook last week is an abomination of participatory democracy and fairness to the citizens of our state,” Cornack said. “Even worse however, is the policy contained in the proposals.”

Some of the problems outlined in CPAN’s analysis included with the letter are:

  • No guarantee that the total cost of auto insurance will go down: HB 4397 only provides a short-term mandate that the no-fault portion of consumers’ insurance premiums will decrease. If HB 4397 becomes law, there will be many ways in which other portions of auto insurance premiums will become more expensive.
  • Children will lose their existing rights to lifetime coverage: Under Michigan’s current no-fault law, virtually all Michigan children involved in motor vehicle crashes have the right to lifetime medical care, regardless of whether their parents are insured with Michigan no-fault insurance. HB 4397 strips children of these critically important health care rights.
  • Lifetime coverage will become unaffordable: With far fewer individuals in the uncapped benefit pool, the cost of uncapped benefit policies will increase substantially. Therefore, the bill will result in fewer consumers having the ability to secure the benefit of lifetime coverage. Many will be forced to rely on other sources of insurance, including Medicaid and Medicare, to fund their care for auto-related injuries.
  • It preserves redlining:HB 4397 does nothing to change or limit what is known as “redlining,” the insurance practice of charging consumers in certain areas of Michigan, such as Detroit, much more for auto insurance than those who live across the street in a neighboring municipality. The bill allows these practices to continue in the same way they have for the past several decades.

The entire bill analysis can be found here.

“We strongly urge Gov. Whitmer to veto this lopsided political fiasco and demand a robust and open debate on reforms that will attain all of our goals: to make auto insurance more affordable and to ensure we take care of those catastrophically injured in auto accidents,” Cornack said.


SUMMARY ANALYSIS OF HB 4397: A BILL THAT CREATES MORE PROBLEMS THAN IT SOLVES

At 2AM on Thursday, May 9, 2019, without any public hearings or debates and by a 61-49 vote, the House of Representatives passed HB 4397. This bill strips consumers of critically important rights and benefits currently available under existing law. The bill does not guarantee a reduction on the total cost of a person’s auto insurance premium. Furthermore, the bill allows for the government to become responsible to pay for auto-related medical care, which will cause massive financial burdens for Michigan taxpayers. Undoubtedly, the bill creates more problems than it solves and should be vetoed by Governor Whitmer without hesitation. Many of the serious problems created by this bill are summarized below:

PROBLEM #1: THERE IS NO GUARANTEE THE TOTAL COST OF AUTO INSURANCE WILL GO DOWN FOR MICHIGAN CONSUMERS

  • HB 4397 does NOT guarantee that the total cost of auto insurance will go down. It only provides a 5-year guarantee that the no-fault portion of consumers’ insurance premiums will decrease. If HB 4397 becomes law, there will be many ways in which other portions of auto insurance premiums will become more expensive. Michigan consumers should expect the total cost of their auto insurance will not decrease much, if at all. If our legislators intend to provide Michigan consumers a true guaranteed rate reduction, it must be a guaranteed reduction on the total cost of auto insurance.

PROBLEM #2: THERE IS NO CONSUMER PROTECTION AGAINST TERRITORIAL/RED-LINING DISCRIMINATORY INSURANCE PRICING PRACTICES THAT HAVE BEEN SO HARMFUL TO RESIDENTS OF AREAS OF MICHIGAN, SUCH AS DETROIT

  • HB 4397 does nothing to change or limit what is known as “red-lining”, i.e., the insurance practice of charging consumers in certain areas of Michigan, such as Detroit, much more for auto insurance than those who live across the street in a neighboring municipality. The bill allows these practices to continue in the same way they have for the past several decades.  Furthermore, the bill describes the calculation of the guaranteed reduction on the no-fault portion of a consumer’s auto insurance in such a way that will likely lead to consumers in areas like Detroit receiving less of a discount than consumers in neighboring communities.

PROBLEM #3: THERE ARE NO SPECIFIC CONSUMER PROTECTIONS AGAINST BEING CHARGED MORE FOR INSURANCE BECAUSE OF SOCIOECONOMIC FACTORS, SUCH AS CREDIT SCORE, OCCUPATION, EDUCATION LEVEL, ETC.

  • HB 4397 does not specifically prohibit insurers from unfairly charging different rates based on socioeconomic factors such as credit score, occupation, educational level, etc. The bill only specifically limits the use of gender and marital status.  Therefore, it should be assumed that it will remain lawful for insurance companies to use these factors to justify charging people substantially higher rates based more on their socioeconomic status than on how well they drive. To whatever extent the bill alleges to prohibit “non-driving rating factors,” it does so with an unclear definition that insurance companies and their actuaries can easily work circumvent.

PROBLEM #4: MICHIGAN TAXPAYERS WILL BE RESPONSIBLE TO PAY THE ENTIRE COSTS OF MEDICAL TREATMENT FOR THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE INJURED IN FUTURE AUTO CRASHES

  • Under Michigan’s current no-fault law, the government does not pay for the auto-related medical treatment for people insured through Medicaid or Medicare. HB 4397, however, completely changes that reality. The bill allows individuals and families on Medicaid or Medicare to entirely opt-out of any form of no-fault medical expense coverage. This means that the government will be required to pay for the entire costs auto-related medical care for these people.
  • There are approximately 2.5 million people in Michigan on Medicaid.Accordingly, given the large number of people seriously injured in auto crashes each year, HB 4397 will shift an unprecedented financial burden onto Michigan taxpayers.

PROBLEM #5: CHILDREN LOSE THEIR EXISTING RIGHTS TO LIFETIME COVERAGE FOR THEIR AUTO CRASH INJURIES, WHICH WILL FURTHER BURDEN MICHIGAN TAXPAYERS

  • Under Michigan’s current no-fault law, virtually all Michigan children involved in motor vehicle crashes have the right to lifetime medical care, regardless of whether their parents are insured with Michigan no-fault insurance. HB 4397 strips these children of these critically important health care rights. Under HB 4397, children injured in motor vehicle crashes will be subject to the caps on medical benefits that apply to the policy their parents purchased. Furthermore, regarding children who are insured through Medicaid and their parents opt-out of no-fault insurance coverage, these children will be left without any no-fault medical expense coverage at all. Striping children of these critical important heath care rights will result in further financial burdens for Michigan taxpayers.

PROBLEM #6: CAPPED NO-FAULT POLICIES WILL NOT COVER THE CARE NEEDS OF THE SERIOUSLY INJURED PEOPLE, WHICH WILL FURTHER BURDEN MICHIGAN TAXPAYERS

  • HB 4397 authorizes the sale of four different capped no-fault PIP benefit policies. The first capped option is a lifetime benefit cap of $50,000. The second capped option limits benefits to $50,000, with an additional $200,000 for emergency medical care. The third option is a total cap of $250,000. The fourth option is a total cap of $500,000. These limited benefit caps all fall short of that which is needed to properly care for people seriously injured in auto crashes. Seriously injured auto-crash survivors whose treatments needs exceed the cap will very likely end up on Medicaid or Medicare. This will cause further financial burdens for Michigan taxpayers.

PROBLEM #7: FINANCIAL RUIN FOR THE THOUSANDS OF FAMILIES WITH HEALTH INSURANCE THAT EXCLUDES AUTO-RELATED MEDICAL CARE

  • Thousands of Michigan families have health insurance policies that exclude coverage for auto-related medical care. In other words, these health insurance plans do not cover medical care for auto-related injuries. If people in these families are seriously injured in a crash and they exceed the coverage under their capped no-fault policy, they will have no coverage under their health insurance for their additional care needs. Moreover, because these people have some form of health insurance, Medicaid and Medicare will not be available to them. These people will be either deprived the care they need or face medical bankruptcy.

PROBLEM #8: SERIOUSLY INJURED PEOPLE INSURED UNDER CAPPED NO-FAULT POLICIES WILL NOT HAVE ANY NO-FAULT INSURANCE COVERAGE FOR THEIR INCOME LOSS

  • Under Michigan’s current no-fault law, consumers can claim benefits to cover their income loss due to their injuries. Under HB 4397, however, the benefit caps apply not only to medical expenses, but to all PIP benefits, including benefits for an injured person’s loss of income. Therefore, there will be no income loss coverage for people who become disabled in an auto crash and incur medical expenses that exceed their selected PIP benefit cap. This is another financial burden HB 4397 will impose on Michigan consumers.

PROBLEM #9: CONSUMERS WILL HAVE TO PURCHASE MORE LIABILITY INSURANCE TO PROTECT THEMSELVES FROM LAWSUITS FILED AGAINST THEM, AND LIABILITY INSURANCE WILL BE MORE EXPENSIVE

  • Under the current no-fault law, we cannot sue each other for medical expenses because we have lifetime medical coverage under our no-fault policies. HB 4397, however, destroys that financial protection for the Michigan consumers. The bill allows people to sue any driver that contributed to the crash and seek damages for costs of the injured person’s lifetime medical care and treatment. To protect ourselves from this potential financial ruin, we all will have to purchase more liability insurance coverage. Furthermore, because liability insurance will have to cover the injured person’s medical costs, that form of insurance will be more expensive for everyone. Ultimately, the increased costs of our liability insurance will likely offset any reduction we will receive on our no-fault policies under HB 4397. It is even also possible that the total cost of our auto insurance could be even more expensive than it is right now.

PROBLEM #10: MOST AT-FAULT DRIVERS WILL NOT HAVE ENOUGH INSURANCE TO COVER THE COSTS OF AN INJURED PERSON’S MEDICAL CARE

  • HB 4397 allows us to pursue our medical costs not covered through our no-fault coverage from an at-fault driver through a liability lawsuit. However, the bill does nothing to change the laws regarding minimum amount of liability insurance people must have on their vehicles. This minimum amount totals $20,000 per individual injured and has not been adjusted by our legislature for over 40 years! Therefore, when people need to pursue their medical costs from an at-fault driver, they will likely face the rude awakening that the at-fault driver’s liability insurance coverage is nowhere near enough to cover those medical costs.

PROBLEM #11: UNINSURED AND UNDERINSURED MOTORIST COVERAGES WILL BE MORE EXPENSIVE FOR CONSUMERS

  • Michigan consumers can buy uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage to protect themselves from the crashes caused by at-fault drivers who do not have insurance or do not have enough insurance to cover damages caused by the at-fault driver’s negligence. Under HB 4397, however, uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage will become more expensive. This is because the bill allows for uncovered medical expenses to recovered from at-fault drivers. Therefore, it will cost consumers more money to protect themselves with uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage.

PROBLEM #12: LIFETIME NO-FAULT COVERAGE WILL BECOME INCREASINGLY EXPENSIVE AND UNAFFORDABLE TO A GREATER NUMBER OF CONSUMERS

  • Over time, this bill will cause the lifetime benefit option to become unaffordable to a greater number of people. This is expected to happen because there will be far fewer individuals in the uncapped benefit pool, which will likely cause the cost of uncapped benefit policies to increase substantially over the years. Therefore, the bill will result in fewer consumer from being able to have the benefit of lifetime coverage and will be forced to rely on other sources of insurance, including Medicaid and Medicare, to fund their auto-related care.

PROBLEM #13: CONSUMERS WILL BE CONFUSED ABOUT HOW TO PURCHASE AND MAINTAIN THEIR AUTO INSURANCE, WHICH WILL LIKELY RESULT IN DEVASTATING FINANCIAL CONSEQUENCES

  • In creating several different forms of coverage, along with other decisions and requirements to consider when purchasing insurance, consumers will likely be confused about which coverages they should be buying to best protect themselves and their families. They will also be confused about how to properly maintain their insurance coverage. The mistakes consumers may inadvertently make dealing with their insurance coverages could lead to devastating financial consequences if they or their family members are seriously injured in an auto crash.

PROBLEM #14: CONSUMERS WILL BE LIMITED IN THEIR RIGHT TO HIRE AN ATTORNEY TO REPRESENT THEIR INTERESTS AGAINST AN INSURANCE COMPANY THAT WRONGFULLY DENIES PAYMENT OF THEIR BENEFITS

  • HB 4397 attempts to solve the problem of unnecessary litigation in the no-fault system by doing one thing – limit the ability of consumers to hire an attorney to represent their interests against an insurance company that has denied a no-fault medical expense claim. For example, the bill creates a ridiculous situation wherein it becomes illegal for an attorney to be hired, if, for whatever reason, the consumer did not submit the claim to the insurer within 90 days from when the medical care was provided to the consumer. Furthermore, while the bill restricts consumer access to legal representation, the bill does nothing to restrict the legal representation of insurance companies.

PROBLEM #15: THE POOR DRAFTING OF THE BILL CREATES MANY AMBIGUITIES AND UNCERTAINTIES REGARDING CONSUMER’S LEGAL RIGHTS, WHICH IS UNFAIR TO CONSUMER AND WILL CAUSE MORE COSTLY AND UNNECESSARY LITIGATION IN THE SYSTEM.

  • HB 4397 was released to legislators around dinner time and then passed a few hours later around 2am, without any public hearings or meaningful debates. There are several head-scratching parts of the bill that will create many ambiguities and uncertainties regarding consumer’s legal rights going forward. These ambiguities and uncertainties will adversely impact Michigan consumers, as their rights against insurance companies will not be clear and will need to be litigated. This costly and unnecessary litigation will add to the cost of auto insurance, rather than bring it down.

PROBLEM #16:   MICHIGAN’S MEDICAL ECONOMY WILL BE DEVASTATED AND JOBS WILL BE LOST

  • Auto crashes result in an enormous amount of medical care and treatment each year in Michigan. Our current no-fault system provides a way to cover the costs of that care and treatment so that medical providers can stay in business and provide high-quality care. HB 4397 will have a devasting effect on Michigan’s medical economy. Millions of people will not have coverage for the actual costs of their care and treatment. Furthermore, the reduced payments under the workers compensation fee schedule will also cause financial burdens to medical providers. Ultimately, as medical providers lose money treating auto patients, jobs in Michigan’s healthcare economy will be lost.

PROBLEM #17: THERE WILL BE MORE UNNECESSARY LITIGATION ABOUT THE RATES OF REIMBURSEMENT FOR MEDICAL PROVIDERS

  • Under current law, there are too many disputes about the amounts medical providers should be paid for rendering services to auto crash survivors. These disputes result in costly and unnecessary litigation that is driving up the costs of insurance in Michigan. Unfortunately, HB 4397 does not solve this problem. While HB 4397 implements a worker’s compensation fee schedule, the bill also adopts an unclear standard for reimbursement rates for the various types of care and treatment not listed the worker’s compensation fee schedule. This will lead to disputes with insurers about the appropriate rate of reimbursement and will lead to a continuation of the unnecessary litigation that exists in the system about medical reimbursement rates.

PROBLEM #18: PROVIDERS WILL BE DISCOURAGED FROM PROVIDING CARE TO AUTO CRASH VICTIMS

  • HB 4397 grants great powers to insurance companies and the Michigan Catastrophic Claims Association (MCCA) to investigate the operations of medical providers. In this regard, the bill allows insurance companies and the MCCA to demand that the provider comply with requests for a wide-range of financial documentation and information about how the provider treats patients. These onerous and invasive investigative powers will result in medical providers being discouraged from servicing auto-crash patients.

PROBLEM #19: AN INSURANCE POLICE-STATE WILL BE CREATED THAT WILL INTIMIDATE MICHIGAN CONSUMERS AND ENCROACH UPON THE POWER OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL TO REGULATE INSURANCE MATTERS

  • HB 4397 attempts to solve the problem of insurance fraud by enacting a fraud authority that essentially will create a police-state regarding insurance matters. This police-state will make insurance even more intimidating for consumers than it is now.Police are not trained in the important details and nuance of insurance policies and applicable law. There are much better ways to regulate bad behavior in auto insurance. Furthermore, the fraud authority encroaches upon the power Michigan’s elected attorney general must address bad behavior in auto insurance.

PROBLEM #20: INSURANCE COMPANIES INVOLVED WITH THE MICHIGAN CATASTROPHIC CLAIMS ASSOCIATION (MCCA) WILL LIKELY RECEIVE THE VAST MAJORITY OF EXCESS MONEY THAT IS LEFT OVER IN THE 20+ BILLION DOLLAR FUND

  • HB 4397 specifically amends the provisions of the no-fault act regarding whether any extra money remaining in the MCCA in the future should be given back to Michigan consumers. The bill amends these provisions in such a way that indicates that only a small portion of Michigan consumers (i.e., those who continue to buy lifetime no-fault coverage) will receive a rebate for money that may remain in the MCCA in the future, and that such rebate be limited only to the amounts these consumers paid for their MCCA assessment fee on their vehicle. Based on the language of the bill, it appears that after paying back this limited amount of money to this small portion of people, the insurers will be able to pocket the extra money that remains in the fund.

House no-fault reform bill is a mirage that won’t offer true protections to consumers

House no-fault reform bill is a mirage that won’t offer true protections to consumers

Cornack: We applaud Gov. Whitmer and House Democrats for rejecting unprecedented political maneuver

LANSING, Mich.—(May 9, 2019)— John Cornack, president of the Coalition Protecting Auto No-Fault (CPAN), issued the following statement in response to House Bill 4397, which was passed in the dark of night and would severely slash benefits for consumers.

“We applaud Gov. Whitmer and House Democrats for standing up for Michigan consumers and rejecting this unprecedented political maneuver, and we strongly support Gov. Whitmer’s calls for fair and reasonable legislation that provides strong consumer protections and offers immediate rate relief.

“Auto no-fault impacts every single driver in the state of Michigan. Ramrodding significant changes through the legislature with no opportunity for discussion is an insult to every single Michigan resident – particularly to those who have been injured in automobile accidents and whose essential care now hangs in the balance. We can and must do better.

“This bill is a mirage, and provides weak concessions that won’t actually protect consumers. We need to come to the table and have a serious conversation around how to lower auto insurance premiums without depriving auto accident victims of the essential care they need.”


New plan to overturn no-fault is an insurance industry giveaway

New plan to overturn no-fault is an insurance industry giveaway


SB1 offers no consumer protections or guaranteed rate relief

LANSING, Mich. – (May 7, 2019) – A new plan introduced in the state Senate today would gut protections for auto accident survivors and all Michigan consumers, shift the cost of care from auto insurance companies to taxpayers, and do absolutely nothing to guarantee lower premiums or stop the discriminatory pricing practices of auto insurance companies.

The bill, SB1, amounts to a giveaway to the auto insurance industry, said John Cornack, president of the Coalition Protecting Auto No-Fault.

“Michigan residents are desperate for real relief from their auto insurance premiums,” Cornack said. “Instead, a group of senators are all too eager to strip away their protections and raise their taxes, while letting auto insurance companies continue to charge exorbitant rates with little to no oversight of their discriminatory practices. SB1 is a great deal if you’re an auto insurance company CEO. It’s a bad deal if you are anyone else.”

Despite the fact that Michigan’s auto insurance industry is weakly regulated compared to other states, SB1 does nothing to increase protections for consumers:

  • It does not prohibit the insurance industry’s discriminatory practice of setting rates based on non-driving factors like gender, job title or ZIP code.
  • It does not move Michigan from a “file and use” system—where insurance companies can set rates with little oversight—to a “prior approval” system, where rate increases would have to be approved by the state.
  • It does not include a fair fraud authority that cracks down on fraud in all aspects of the no-fault system, including insurance companies that deny and delay legitimate claims.

In addition, SB1 would likely represent a hidden tax increase on all Michigan residents. By gutting no-fault benefits and protections, more victims would be forced into medical bankruptcy and onto state Medicaid. That cost would be passed onto the taxpayer – a 2017 analysis by the House Fiscal Agency found that a similar plan would increase Michigan’s Medicaid cost by $150 million.

“We can lower auto insurance premiums without depriving care for catastrophically injured residents,” Cornack said. “But that involves standing up to auto insurance companies and holding them accountable. Instead, Senate Republicans are giving them everything they want. We call on the Senate to join us in a real conversation and move forward with reforms that protect people, not insurance company profits.”

Cornack added that SB1 is out-of-line with what Michigan voters want. A recent poll found that 65 percent of likely voters reject any plan to eliminate or limit medical benefits for auto accident victims.


CPAN earns two awards of excellence from the Central Michigan Public Relations Society of America (CMPRSA)

CPAN earns two awards of excellence from the Central Michigan Public Relations Society of America (CMPRSA)

The Coalition Protecting Auto No-Fault (CPAN) earned multiple honors from the Central Michigan Public Relations Society of America (CMPRSA) for public relations excellence at the 2019 PACE awards, held on April 18th.

In the “Organizational Relations” campaign category, CPAN earned an award of excellence for its coalition management and member re-energizing campaign, which engaged CPAN’s passionate group of supporters in various campaigns and legislative advocacy efforts. In the “Research” tactics category, CPAN was honored with another award of excellence for its statewide poll of 800 likely Michigan voters conducted in 2018, which showed that Michigan residents strongly support lowering premiums and protecting essential benefits by increasing consumer protections and holding insurance companies accountable.

“We’re incredibly proud of the work CPAN and its supporters have done to advocate for rate reduction and fair insurance industry regulation while protecting benefits for victims of catastrophic automobile accidents,” said Martha Levandowski, administrative director of CPAN. “These awards speak to the commitment of our team and the efforts we have made to base our work on research into voter perceptions and to engage our member organizations. We look forward to continuing to advocate for Michigan drivers and families.”


PIP choice would be a ‘solution’ that actually creates new problems, by reducing care and shifting costs from insurance companies to taxpayers

CPAN: PIP choice would be a ‘solution’ that actually creates new problems, by reducing care and shifting costs from insurance companies to taxpayers

John Cornack, president of the Coalition Protecting Auto No-Fault (CPAN), issued the following statement in response to today’s Senate Insurance and Banking Committee hearing. The hearing focused on dismantling Michigan’s no-fault auto insurance system and replacing it with Personal Injury Protection (PIP) choice, which would allow insurance companies to sell junk plans with no guaranteed rate reduction.

“There are two fundamental problems with so-called PIP choice. First, it will deprive Michigan citizens of essential care. PIP choice means families will go bankrupt because they can’t pay their medical bills, and catastrophically injured children won’t receive the care they need. That’s unacceptable.

“Second, implementing PIP choice would likely result in a hidden tax increase on all Michigan citizens, as catastrophically injured drivers would have to declare medical bankruptcy and end up on state Medicaid. In fact, the nonpartisan House Fiscal Agency in 2017 found that a PIP choice plan would shift $150 million in costs to the Medicaid system. That’s a good deal for insurance companies and a bad deal for everyone else. As Gov. Whitmer said in her State of the State address last night, we should reject ‘solutions’ that actually create new problems.

“There’s a better way to lower rates – through effective rate regulation, prohibiting the use of non-driving rating factors when setting rates, implementing a fee schedule for health care providers, cracking down on fraud, and enacting other common-sense, bipartisan reforms.”


CPAN: Lack of consumer protections in Michigan is what’s truly ‘shameful’

CPAN: Lack of consumer protections in Michigan is what’s truly ‘shameful’

DETROIT—(Feb. 7, 2019)—The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan today heard a motion filed by the state of Michigan seeking to dismiss a lawsuit filed by the City of Detroit which sought a declaration that the Michigan no-fault statute was unconstitutional and should be invalidated. The Coalition Protecting Auto No-Fault filed a motion several months ago seeking permission to intervene in this lawsuit for the purpose of preserving Michigan’s auto no-fault law from being declared void.

At today’s hearing, Judge George C. Steeh ruled that he would take the state’s motion to dismiss the City of Detroit lawsuit under advisement in order to give state legislators and state officials opportunity to correct deficiencies that he declared had resulted in a “shameful situation.”  The court did not rule on CPAN’s motion to intervene, nor did it address other intervention requests.

Although CPAN, in its intervention pleadings, agreed with the City of Detroit that Michigan motorists have a constitutional right to auto no-fault insurance at “fair and equitable rates,” as mandated by the landmark 1978 decision of the Michigan Supreme Court in Shavers vs. Attorney General, CPAN vehemently disagrees with the position of the City of Detroit that the proper remedy is a judicial declaration that the law is invalid. Rather, CPAN takes the position that there are a number of things that could have been done and were not done over the years by state government – in particular, the Department of Financial and Insurance Services – to keep auto no-fault affordable.

CPAN General Counsel George T. Sinas commented on the situation, stating:

“What is shameful is that the Michigan Department of Insurance and Financial Services (DIFS) has done virtually nothing significant in the last 25 years to make sure that auto insurance rates were affordable for the average citizen. For example, it has failed to properly implement a statutory provision requiring the department director to make a specific determination that premiums for coordinated benefit policies had been “appropriately reduced;” it has failed to implement the decision of the Michigan Supreme Court in Shavers vs Attorney General by formulating standards to ensure that premiums were “fair and equitable;” it has failed to exercise its authority to obtain certain ratemaking data from the Michigan Catastrophic Claims Association that would verify whether the annual MCCA assessments were appropriate; and it has failed to exercise its authority under the Uniform Trade Practices Act that gives the department authority to issue refunds if it finds that insurance companies are engaging in “unfair” practices.

These failures by the bureau are even more reprehensible given recently disclosed evidence that insurers are engaging in unfair ratemaking practices that result in higher rates being paid by women, widows, blue-collar workers, non-homeowners, economic profiling and others. Furthermore, this abdication of responsibility further confirms that in reality DIFS has largely been a rubber stamp protector of the insurance industry.

If anything is shameful, it is that legacy of neglect. There is little doubt that had DIFS done its job, we all would have been paying lower rates.

The question that becomes: who’s going to make DIFS do what it’s supposed to do?”

CPAN is hopeful that the federal court will grant its petition to intervene as it has become obvious that this federal lawsuit will be a major factor in shaping the future of auto no-fault in Michigan.


CPAN welcomes new DIFS Director Fox, calls for new era of stronger consumer protections and regulation of insurance industry

CPAN welcomes new DIFS Director Fox, calls for new era of stronger consumer protections and regulation of insurance industry

FOIA records show former Director McPharlin was too cozy with insurance companies

LANSING, Mich.—(Jan. 14, 2019)—The Coalition Protecting Auto No-Fault today welcomed Anita Fox into her new role as director of the Department of Insurance and Financial Services, and called on her to reform the department into one that protects the interests of consumers rather than the insurance industry.

Today, Fox officially replaces outgoing director Patrick McPharlin, who had a cozy and secretive relationship with the industry he was supposed to be policing, according to records obtained by CPAN through the Freedom of Information Act.

“CPAN looks forward to working with Director Fox to make auto insurance more affordable while protecting the benefits that catastrophically injured auto accident victims need to lead productive, meaningful lives,” said John Cornack, president of CPAN. “For too long, no one has held Michigan’s insurance companies accountable. Michigan consumers need a bulldog in state government to protect them from the insurance industry’s discriminatory practices – instead, Patrick McPharlin was a lap dog for the big insurance companies.”

Documents that CPAN recently obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request relate to the DIFS “President’s Council” – a group of insurance company CEOs who regularly met with McPharlin. Only emails and meeting agendas were made available through the FOIA – no minutes of President’s Council meetings exist, although it’s clear that issues relevant to the public were discussed.

For example, an agenda item for Jan. 28, 2016 was titled “Make Michigan theinsurance industry state.” In letters sent to each insurance company CEO invited to sit on the Council, McPharlin said he wanted to hear about “laws we need to enact, repeal, or modify” to make the CEOs happy.

In a letter to State Rep. Donna Lasinski, McPharlin confirmed that the issue of tax reform was discussed at one of the President’s Council meetings. CPAN, Rep. Lasinski and other consumer advocates in the Michigan Legislature have called on DIFS to take a more proactive approach in ensuring that the insurance industry pass along to consumers the massive windfall they received as part of federal tax reform enacted in 2017. While no minutes exist from the meeting, DIFS clearly opted not to crack down on insurance companies, which have continued to rake in huge profits while jacking up prices on consumers. For example, during the first nine months of 2018, Allstate, ranked in the top 5 for market share in Michigan, increased its Adjusted Net Income by $716 million over the same time period in 2017.

Cornack noted that a recent poll commissioned by CPAN found that 65 percent of respondents said auto insurance rates are high because the State of Michigan does a poor job regulating rates to protect consumers.

“With stronger oversight from state government and a new opportunity for bipartisan solutions in the Legislature, we hope that 2019 will represent a new era—one where we put the needs of consumers above the profits of big insurance companies,” he said. “We are encouraged that we can work together to find a solution that lowers insurance premiums while protecting benefits for all Michigan drivers and families.”


CPAN welcomes new DIFS Director Fox, calls for new era of stronger consumer protections and regulation of insurance industry

CPAN welcomes new DIFS Director Fox, calls for new era of stronger consumer protections and regulation of insurance industry

FOIA records show former Director McPharlin was too cozy with insurance companies

LANSING, Mich.—(Jan. 14, 2019)—The Coalition Protecting Auto No-Fault today welcomed Anita Fox into her new role as director of the Department of Insurance and Financial Services, and called on her to reform the department into one that protects the interests of consumers rather than the insurance industry.

Today, Fox officially replaces outgoing director Patrick McPharlin, who had a cozy and secretive relationship with the industry he was supposed to be policing, according to records obtained by CPAN through the Freedom of Information Act.

“CPAN looks forward to working with Director Fox to make auto insurance more affordable while protecting the benefits that catastrophically injured auto accident victims need to lead productive, meaningful lives,” said John Cornack, president of CPAN. “For too long, no one has held Michigan’s insurance companies accountable. Michigan consumers need a bulldog in state government to protect them from the insurance industry’s discriminatory practices – instead, Patrick McPharlin was a lap dog for the big insurance companies.”

Documents that CPAN recently obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request relate to the DIFS “President’s Council” – a group of insurance company CEOs who regularly met with McPharlin. Only emails and meeting agendas were made available through the FOIA – no minutes of President’s Council meetings exist, although it’s clear that issues relevant to the public were discussed.

For example, an agenda item for Jan. 28, 2016 was titled “Make Michigan theinsurance industry state.” In letters sent to each insurance company CEO invited to sit on the Council, McPharlin said he wanted to hear about “laws we need to enact, repeal, or modify” to make the CEOs happy.

In a letter to State Rep. Donna Lasinski, McPharlin confirmed that the issue of tax reform was discussed at one of the President’s Council meetings. CPAN, Rep. Lasinski and other consumer advocates in the Michigan Legislature have called on DIFS to take a more proactive approach in ensuring that the insurance industry pass along to consumers the massive windfall they received as part of federal tax reform enacted in 2017. While no minutes exist from the meeting, DIFS clearly opted not to crack down on insurance companies, which have continued to rake in huge profits while jacking up prices on consumers. For example, during the first nine months of 2018, Allstate, ranked in the top 5 for market share in Michigan, increased its Adjusted Net Income by $716 million over the same time period in 2017.

Cornack noted that a recent poll commissioned by CPAN found that 65 percent of respondents said auto insurance rates are high because the State of Michigan does a poor job regulating rates to protect consumers.

“With stronger oversight from state government and a new opportunity for bipartisan solutions in the Legislature, we hope that 2019 will represent a new era—one where we put the needs of consumers above the profits of big insurance companies,” he said. “We are encouraged that we can work together to find a solution that lowers insurance premiums while protecting benefits for all Michigan drivers and families.”