CPAN joins bipartisan lawmakers in calling on state government to crack down on insurance industry’s refusal to lower rates in light of corporate tax reform

CPAN joins bipartisan lawmakers in calling on state government to crack down on insurance industry’s refusal to lower rates in light of corporate tax reform

Lawmakers question why corporate savings not passed down to consumers

LANSING – The Coalition Protecting Auto No-Fault today joined with a bipartisan group of Michigan legislators calling on the state Department of Insurance and Financial Services (DIFS) to ensure that insurance companies pass along the savings they received from the federal tax reform enacted last December.

CPAN President John Cornack expressed his support for a letter sent to DIFS Director Patrick McPharlin, submitted by State Rep. Donna Lasinski and co-signed by several Michigan legislators. The letter notes that “if insurers have not adjusted their rates to account for the lower tax, their rates likely became excessive, leaving Michigan residents overpaying for auto, home, and renters coverage they need.”

“Rep. Lasinski is absolutely correct – the insurance industry received a massive tax break as part of federal tax reform, but instead of passing that relief onto consumers, it appears that they’ve once again opted to line their own pockets,” Cornack said. “For too long, state government has looked the other way while the insurance industry has bled residents dry. It’s time for DIFS to stand up to insurers and protect Michigan consumers. All lawmakers fighting to lower auto insurance rates for Michigan drivers should be compelling DIFS to take action.”

In January 2018, the Consumer Federation of America (CFA) sent a letter to McPharlin and state insurance commissioners throughout the country, asking what actions the industry would be taking to reduce rates to reflect the windfall from tax changes and to ensure rates return to reasonable levels.

In her follow-up letter to Director McPharlin, Rep. Lasinski writes: “As we understand it, neither you nor your staff responded to CFA’s query. More important than your lack of response to the CFA, however, is the apparent lack of response to the underlying problem. We are not aware of any systematic DIFS effort to ensure that insurance companies have appropriately reduced their rates in response to changes in federal tax law.”

Instead, insurance companies continue to rake in huge profits while jacking up prices on consumers. 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, which, Allstate explains, was “driven by higher premiums earned, lower catastrophe losses and a lower effective tax rate…” Meanwhile, Allstate customers saw a total premium increase of $331 million between January 2018 and September 2018 alone.

Douglas Heller, an insurance industry expert who has worked with CPAN to uncover the insurance industry’s discriminatory practice of using factors like gender, job title and ZIP code when setting rates in Michigan, said that the profit provision of an insurance rate filing incorporates anticipated taxes, so the corporate tax cut would allow for a lower rate filing while providing insurers with the same rate of return. Heller noted that earlier this year the California Insurance Commissioner directed his Department’s staff “to commence a regulatory review of these insurers’ rates given the major tax windfall under the new federal tax rules” and also issued a notice to all insurers stating that “any insurer with excessive rates, whether in whole or in part due to…changes to the federal income tax rates or due to any other reason, must file a rate change application with the Department to seek an appropriate insurance rate reduction.”

“Consumers Energy and DTE along with many utilities—another regulated industry—announced plans to cut rates due to their tax reform windfall, and insurance companies should be doing the same,” Heller said. “Michigan’s lack of effective oversight of these insurance companies is the main driver of the too-high auto insurance rates paid by policyholders. Requiring stronger regulation is the best way to provide relief to consumers.”

 


CPAN files federal court documents seeking to require state government officials to protect Michigan drivers from excessive and discriminatory auto insurance rates

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CPAN files federal court documents seeking to require state government officials to protect Michigan drivers from excessive and discriminatory auto insurance rates

Consumer group requests intervention in Mayor Duggan’s lawsuit in order to achieve real rate relief while preserving medical care

DETROIT — The Coalition Protecting Auto No-Fault (CPAN) today announced it has filed a motion in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan aimed at protecting Michigan drivers from excessive and discriminatory auto insurance rates. The court documents seek intervention to join a lawsuit filed in August 2018 by Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan. In that lawsuit, Mayor Duggan alleged that because auto insurance rates are excessive, the Michigan no-fault law has become unconstitutional and, therefore, should be judicially repealed. Although CPAN agrees that Michigan drivers deserve meaningful relief from high insurance premiums, it vehemently disagrees with Mayor Duggan as to the proper remedy for addressing the insurance rate problem.

In its court filing, CPAN alleges that Michigan’s high auto insurance rates are directly related to the unfair and discriminatory rate making practices utilized by Michigan insurance companies, particularly with regard to factors such as gender, marital status, educational level, home ownership, and credit scoring. CPAN charges that these rate making practices violate Michigan law and should have been prohibited long ago by the Michigan Department of Insurance and Financial Services (DIFS), which is currently headed by Director Patrick M. McPharlin.

“What CPAN is fighting for is quite simple:  We want the person in this state who is charged—by law—with protecting Michigan drivers from excessive rates to actually do his job,” said CPAN President John Cornack.  “For far too long, insurance companies have gotten away with inflicting high, discriminatory auto insurance prices against Michigan drivers. The leader charged with keeping the insurance industry in check has done nothing. Why? Is there a fox watching the henhouse? If Director McPharlin won’t stand up and protect Michigan taxpayers, we aim to require him to start doing so through this lawsuit.”

CPAN is a coalition of consumer advocacy groups and health care professionals that has fought for many years to prevent insurance companies from taking away vitally important rights to medical care for the victims of motor vehicle accidents. CPAN contends that under the landmark 1978 Michigan Supreme Court decision in Shavers v Attorney General, Michigan drivers have a constitutional right to fair and equitable auto insurance rates.

“There is no question that under the Shavers decision, Michigan motorists have a due process, constitutional right to fair and equitable auto insurance rates,” said CPAN General Counsel George T. Sinas. “Unfortunately, however, the state of Michigan has not adequately protected those rights with effective oversight of the insurance industry. The proper solution to protect Michigan motorists is most certainly not to dismantle the entire no-fault system which Mayor Duggan’s lawsuit seeks to do. Rather, CPAN’s proposed remedy seeks to preserve the auto no-fault system, while at the same time, forcing insurance companies to utilize rate making practices that will result in fair and equitable auto insurance premiums. Unfortunately, however, the Mayor’s lawsuit does not have that same objective. Rather, his lawsuit seeks to throw the baby out with the bath water, while CPAN seeks to clean up the bath water and save the baby.”

Specifically, in its court documents, CPAN asks the U.S. District Court to:

  • Find that multiple insurance rate-making practices that are currently permitted by the state of Michigan violate constitutional protections for Michigan drivers, including rate-making that takes into account gender, marital status, level of education, occupational status, credit history, home ownership, and ZIP codes.
  • Require the state of Michigan to prohibit any and all rate-making practices that are not consistent with the constitutional protections recognized in the 1978 Michigan Supreme Court Shavers case.
  • Compel the state of Michigan to properly enforce the no-fault laws related to guaranteeing that premiums charged are not excessive.

“By seeking to throw out the entire auto no-fault law, Mayor Duggan is clearly on the opposite side of the issue from his voters,” Cornack said. “According to a recent survey of Michigan voters by ROI Insight, nearly two-thirds (64 percent) of voters statewide support protecting lifetime catastrophic care for auto accident victims. That number climbs to nearly 70 percent (69 percent) in the city of Detroit.”

“In addition,” Cornack said, “eight in ten (80 percent of) voters in Detroit—nearly two-thirds statewide—blame the state of Michigan for high auto-insurance rates, because of inadequate oversight and regulation of the insurance industry.”

In states without the benefit of an auto no-fault system, victims of auto accidents are often forced into bankruptcy due to the cost of care, which can last a lifetime depending on the severity of injuries sustained. In other states, the costs of such care are shifted to taxpayers generally, because costs are shifted to the state through the Medicaid system. When Colorado changed from a no-fault to a tort state, its Medicaid cost increased by 205 percent.


CPAN celebrates its 15th anniversary

This month, CPAN is celebrating its 15th anniversary. It is truly amazing how fast the years have flown by since we started the historic CPAN Coalition in 2003. As we reflect on all of the great things our organization has accomplished over the last 15 years to preserve our great auto no-fault system, it is worthwhile to recall the words of former Michigan Supreme Court Chief Justice Michael F. Cavanagh, when he spoke at the CPAN 10th anniversary celebration held in Lansing on October 26, 2013. At that time, Justice Cavanagh said these words:

“My 40-year career as a Judge in the Michigan appellate courts has paralleled the birth and the subsequent maturation of the Michigan Auto No-Fault Insurance law. The two of us have literally grown up together. During that 40-year period, I have watched this law develop from a controversial legal concept into a comprehensive injury reparations system that is not only unique to Michigan, but is something that has consistently earned national acclaim. During my many years as a judge, I have participated in cases where I have witnessed first-hand, how the Michigan auto no-fault system has provided the structure within which lives shattered by catastrophic injury were rebuilt and made productive once again. Without the vast resources that are harnessed by this special law, and without its clearly intended purpose of fully serving the patients it was designed to benefit, many of those precious lives would have been destroyed.

However, any comprehensive legislative scheme that is as bold as the Michigan Auto No-Fault Act was designed to be, is bound to draw the criticism and opposition of powerful special interests that would be benefitted by a reduction in its scope or by its outright elimination. Therefore, those individuals and organizations who sincerely wish to protect and perpetuate this unique system must rise to the formidable challenges that such threats present. Up until CPAN was created 10 years ago, there was no single purpose, broad-based, bipartisan organization that could take on the great responsibility of preserving the original Michigan no-fault law and protecting the rights of the thousands of patients it serves. That is why I believe the citizens of Michigan owe a deep debt of gratitude to CPAN for its willingness to perform that most important role.

During the last 10 years, CPAN has acquired a formidable presence in the public sector regarding matters dealing with the Michigan auto no-fault law. I could not express this point any better than did Republican Representative Gail Haines from the 43rd District, when she recently stated, and I quote:

‘CPAN has emerged as a knowledgeable, well respected, credible, bipartisan voice that policy makers and the public can trust regarding matters dealing with the Michigan Auto No-Fault System.’

The existence of CPAN has also been a great benefit to the Michigan appellate courts. Over the last 10 years, CPAN’s legal team has filed nearly 30 amicus curiae briefs in the Michigan Supreme Court and in the Michigan Court of Appeals in a number of important cases dealing with the interpretation of the Michigan No-Fault Act. I cannot over-emphasize how helpful that effort has been for Michigan judges. These CPAN amicus briefs are often times able to analyze the legal issues in a manner that is more global and socially relevant than the actual litigants are able to do in their case specific briefs. As a result, these amicus briefs have provided our judges with very important perspectives regarding the interpretation of this law. I can also tell you that these CPAN amicus briefs have been exceptionally well written. Therefore, all CPAN members should be proud of your organization’s impressive amicus campaign and you should commit yourself to its continuation.

In spite of all that CPAN has done over the last 10 years, I am sure you are well aware that your work is just beginning. The battles you will be fighting in the months and years ahead, both legislatively and judicially, will only intensify. Therefore, if you want your mission to be successful, you must re-commit yourselves, your resources, and your members to the task at hand. Your organization is indeed historic and so is its work.”


CPAN earns awards for excellence from Michigan Society of Association Executives (MSAE)

CPAN earns awards for excellence from Michigan Society of Association Executives (MSAE)

Lansing – The Coalition Protecting Auto No-Fault (CPAN) earned multiple honors as the Michigan Society of Association Executives (MSAE) saluted the innovation of program winners at its 17th annual Diamond Awards event Sept. 20th in Novi.

In the “Public Relations Campaign” category, CPAN received a Diamond Award for its campaign “Non-driving Rating Factors: Game Changer in No-Fault Battle” (Less than $1 million budget category). In the “Social Media Campaign” category, CPAN earned a Diamond Award for its campaign “Michigan Drivers Save with Shop Your Policy” (less than $1 million budget).

“We’re enormously proud of the work CPAN has done over the past year to protect benefits for victims of catastrophic automobile accidents while helping consumers secure lower auto insurance premiums,” said Martha Levandowski, administrative director of CPAN. “These awards are a testament to the dedication and hard work of our team, which is so passionate about what we do. We look forward to continuing to advocate for Michigan drivers and families.”

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CPAN is a broad coalition of health care providers, patient advocates and accident survivors who are committed to preserving Michigan’s model auto no-fault insurance system. For more information, please visit www.ProtectNoFault.org.

MSAE, based in East Lansing, is a professional organization of more than 1,600 members that works to advance knowledge in the association industry.  More than 300 association professionals gathered Sept. 20th at Suburban Collection Showplace in Novi to recognize leaders and program excellence.


CPAN statement on Gov. Snyder’s executive order creating an anti-fraud authority for the State of Michigan

CPAN statement on Gov. Snyder’s executive order creating an anti-fraud authority for the State of Michigan

Cornack: Real fraud prevention must include deny-and-delay tactics used by insurance companies

Lansing, Mich. — Gov. Rick Snyder signed an executive order on Sept. 11 creating an anti-fraud authority affecting the banking sector, health insurance and auto insurance. Coalition Protecting Auto No-Fault (CPAN) President John Cornack issued the following statement in response to the order:

“As a consumer advocate organization, CPAN has and will continue to fight for measures to eliminate fraud and abuse on all fronts within the system. CPAN supports the creation of an anti-fraud authority as long as it’s not a lap dog of the insurance industry. We need real fraud prevention, which means also cracking down on the insurance companies that use deny-and-delay tactics when consumers file legitimate claims.”


CPAN Statement: Duggan lawsuit against State of Michigan points blame in the wrong direction, won’t guarantee lower auto insurance premiums

Cornack: Action needed to hold insurance companies accountable

Lansing — Today, Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan announced a lawsuit against the State of Michigan with a political aim of dismantling Michigan’s auto no-fault system, which would adversely affect citizens across Michigan. Coalition Protecting Auto No-Fault (CPAN) President John Cornack issued the following statement in response to the proposed lawsuit:

“Instead of holding insurance companies accountable for their discriminatory rate-setting practices and sky-high premiums, Mayor Duggan is once again blaming a law that has been a lifesaver for thousands of Michigan families over the last five decades.

“While we have not had the opportunity to review and analyze this filing, this issue of affordability and auto insurance is critical because it impacts every Michigan citizen. CPAN is deeply concerned about the lawsuit that aims to make sweeping and potentially devastating changes to Michigan’s auto no-fault law, a move that will allow insurance companies to sell worse plans with no guaranteed reduction in rates. This lawsuit is primarily a political stunt. Our courts are not charged with writing legislation, but upholding the law.

“CPAN agrees that under the landmark Michigan Supreme Court decision in Shavers v Attorney General that Michigan citizens have a constitutional right to fair and equitable auto insurance rates. However, we believe the proper remedy when that right is being violated is to enact legislation forcing insurance companies to utilize fair and equitable rate making procedures so that premiums are affordable for all Michigan citizens. The bipartisan, Fair and Affordable package of bills that will lower rates without threatening benefits, has been introduced in the Michigan Legislature. This bill package is stalled and has yet to receive consideration by House Committee Chair, Rep Lana Theis nor the House Leadership.It’s time to pass this package of bills and hold the insurance companies accountable.”

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The Coalition Protecting Auto No-Fault (CPAN) is a broad-based coalition of organizations representing consumer advocacy groups and health care professionals of all political persuasions. These organizations are united to preserve Michigan’s model no-fault auto insurance system and to make sure that the Michigan auto insurance industry kept the original no-fault promise it made to Michigan citizens when the No-Fault Act was passed in 1972.

 

 


CPAN statement on SB 1014 and 787: Auto Insurance Bills Passed by State Senate Would Make Children, Seniors, Young Professionals & Others Second-Class Citizens

Legislation Would Shift Cost of Care Resulting from Catastrophic Car Injuries to Michigan Taxpayers

Lansing — The Michigan Senate today passed Senate Bills 1014 and 787, which would erode protections for residents who suffer catastrophic injuries in car accidents and shift the cost of care to Michigan taxpayers. SB 1014 addresses the Assigned Claims Plan (ACP) and would cap the cost of care to $400,000. SB 787 would offer a so-called “carve-out” for senior citizens that in reality severely decreases their protections. The bills fail to address the real factors behind the state’s high auto insurance rates.

Coalition Protecting Auto No-Fault (CPAN) President John Cornack issued the following statement in response to the Senate’s last-minute ramming through of these bills just before the Senate leaves for the summer to begin campaigning.

“These bills would turn anyone who doesn’t own a car into second-class citizens, and the cost of their care would be shifted to Michigan taxpayers. This legislation would severely harm children, seniors, bicyclists and others who rely on public transportation, such as young professional living in downtown Detroit.

“We are extremely sensitive to what Michigan drivers pay for auto insurance, particularly those who live on a fixed income, such as seniors. Unfortunately, this legislation does not adequately address the high costs of insurance in this state and does nothing to guarantee rate reductions.

“CPAN has fought for the creation of a balanced fraud authority, one which will fight fraud on all sides. This legislation, however, would protect only one side — insurers. Insurers win and consumers lose because the legislation would not investigate fraud in all forms.

“The bills passed by the Senate today do not provide comprehensive reform to address the costs in the auto no-fault system, including real factors behind Michigan’s auto insurance premiums: the discriminatory practice by insurance companies of using factors like credit scores, occupation, ZIP codes and gender to set rates.”

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The Coalition Protecting Auto No-Fault (CPAN) is a broad-based coalition of organizations representing consumer advocacy groups and health care professionals of all political persuasions. These organizations are united to preserve Michigan’s model no-fault auto insurance system and to make sure that the Michigan auto insurance industry kept the original no-fault promise it made to Michigan citizens when the No-Fault Act was passed in 1972.


Top Ten Outrageous Auto Insurance Quotes in Michigan

Buying auto insurance in Michigan is frustrating for just about everyone, especially in Detroit. While reviewing hundreds of premium quotes offered by some of the state’s major auto insurers on behalf of the Coalition Protecting Auto No-Fault (CPAN), auto insurance expert Doug Heller identified 10 quotes that are particularly outrageous examples of the various ways auto insurance companies have cheated good drivers in Michigan, even as the insurers blame anybody but themselves for the high cost of their product. A PDF showing screen shots of each quote is available here.

Under Michigan law, every driver is required to purchase auto insurance coverage, yet the state has among the highest levels of uninsured drivers in the nation. A significant reason for this is that insurance companies have unaccountable pricing practices that result in inexplicable and unfair premiums for certain, typically lower-income, yet good drivers.

# 10 $128 More for Female Driver with Perfect Record than a Male Who is Caught Speeding
Progressive quoted a woman with a perfect driving record $1,428 per year for basic coverage. When tested, instead, as a male driver who was recently cited for speeding (and everything else remained the same) Progressive quoted a premium of $1,300 per year for the same coverage.

That’s 10% more for the safer driver, if the safer driver is a female and the driver with a speeding violation is male.

#9 $49 More for 6-month Policy After Having a Break in Coverage While Serving our Country
Auto Club quoted a driver living in Detroit $991 for months for basic coverage but increased his rate to $1,040 when he reported that he was not currently insured due to a military deployment. A 5% penalty for protecting our country.

#8 Premium Rises $1,676 Because Driver only has “Above Average” Credit Score and not “Excellent” Credit
Using Progressive’s online price comparison tool, we found that Allstate would charge a 35-year old driver in Detroit $1,972 per year for basic coverage if she had excellent credit, but it would charge her $3,648 if her credit was in the “Above Average” range, despite her having a perfect driving record. (It rose to $4,960 if she had “Average Credit”—a $3,000 annual penalty for only having average credit.)

#7 No Payment Plan Offered to Customers Without a College Degree; Only Coverage Option Is to Pay $2,271 Up-Front
Esurance, the online subsidiary of Allstate, offers customers the option of paying their six-month premium all at once or in monthly installments. Except, that is, if you don’t have a college degree. Drivers with only a high school diploma were not offered the installment plan with their online quote and appear to be required to pay the entire premium up front. That means the good driver in Detroit without a college degree has to write a $2,271 check to get six months of basic coverage, while the same driver with a college degree has the option of making six $385 monthly installments or paying $2,090 at once. Having only a high school diploma also means the driver’s premium is 9% higher.

#6 Woman charged 27% More Than Man for the Same Basic Coverage Policy
Progressive offered a 35-year old male driver in Detroit with a clean driving record an annual premium of $1,122 for a minimum coverage policy with coordinated PIP benefits. The company raised the annual cost of coverage to $1,428 if the driver was, instead, female, even though she had the same perfect driving record, drove the same car, and lived at the same address.

#5 $306 Auto Insurance Rate Hike Because You Rent Your Home
State Farm added $306, or 5%, to the annual premium of a good driver living in Detroit solely because the customer rents a home rather than owns it. Allstate also charges a sizable surcharge to renters; our test found its auto insurance premium quote rose by $210 in Detroit, simply due to the driver’s homeownership status.

#4 The Widow Penalty: Hundreds of Dollars More per Year After Husband Dies
Our testing found that Liberty Mutual and Esurance charged women between 4 and 13 percent more if they are widows rather than married. In Detroit, the widow penalty cost a 60-year old woman $204 with Liberty Mutual and $280 with Esurance. Esurance specifically asks its customers if they are widows before imposing the rate hike, while Liberty Mutual just asks if customers are married or not.

#3 $3,898 Penalty for Living on the Wrong Side of the Street
Two 35-year old women living within 279 feet of each on either side of Mack Ave. – one in a Grosse Pointe Park zip code, the other in Detroit – have the same car, the same perfect driving
record, and are the same in every other regard – are charged dramatically different premiums for basic coverage from Allstate. The annual premium to the Grosse Pointe Park resident is
$3,452 per year, while her neighbor across the street is quoted an annual premium of $7,350, more than double for the same coverage.

 

#2 $848 More for a Better Driver Due to a Short Break in Coverage
The Auto Club (AAA) quoted a premium of $2,752 for six months to a Detroit insurance executive with an MBA degree who caused an accident this year. But for the exact same coverage, a janitor with a high school diploma who has never caused an accident, received a ticket, or filed a claim but had a brief break in insurance coverage was quoted a six-month premium of $3,600. $848 more for the working-class driver despite a better driving record. If the good driver wanted to buy full coverage, his or her premium would be $1,570 more for a six-month policy than the worse driver with the higher socioeconomic status and continuous coverage.

#1 The $31,432 Premium: Below Average Credit Score Raises Detroit Good Driver Premium by more than 600%!
Using Progressive’s online price comparison tool, we found that State Farm would sell a basic coverage policy to a 20-year old good driver in Detroit with an excellent credit score for $4,410 per year. However, if that same Detroit driver with a perfect driving record has a below average credit score, the annual premium will increase to as much as $31,432 for basic coverage.

“These premium quotes are just ten examples of tens of thousands of times that safe drivers in Michigan pay more for auto insurance than they should simply because insurance companies are allowed to charge whatever they want, with little oversight, and fewer scruples,” said Douglas Heller, an insurance expert who conducted the research for CPAN.

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About CPAN:

The Coalition Protecting Auto No-Fault (CPAN) is a broad based coalition of organizations representing consumer advocacy groups and health care professionals of all political persuasions. These organizations are united to preserve Michigan’s model no-fault auto insurance system and to make sure that the Michigan auto insurance industry kept the original no-fault promise it made to Michigan citizens when the No-Fault Act was passed in 1972.

About Douglas Heller:

Douglas Heller is an independent consultant and nationally recognized insurance expert. During nearly two decades of work on public policy and regulatory matters related to property-casualty insurance, Heller has written several reports on auto insurance pricing in the United States, overseen regulatory challenges to insurance company rates and practices, and, for nine years, served as the Executive Director of the national consumer advocacy organization, Consumer Watchdog.


The Rating Game

How Auto Insurance Giants’ Pricing Practices Drive Up Rates for Safe Drivers Across Michigan

All drivers must buy auto insurance, but insurance companies raise rates on good drivers based on personal and economic characteristics

Every driver in Michigan – whether rich or poor, married or single, male or female – must buy auto insurance. Although the state regulates consumer behavior with this mandate, the insurance companies that sell coverage have been allowed to price policies however they want. As a result, insurance companies slice and dice and price Michiganders in ways that are unfair to safe drivers, including:

  • Higher premiums for good drivers with working class job titles than to white collar professionals
  • Higher premiums for good drivers with high school diplomas than those with master’s degrees
  • Higher premiums for good drivers who rent their home rather than own it
  • Higher premiums for single women than single men
  • Higher premiums for widows than married drivers
  • Higher premiums for good drivers with good, average, or poor credit scores than those with excellent credit scores

Other insurance company pricing strategies hamper Michigan’s goal of ensuring that all drivers have coverage

Research conducted by CPAN has found that insurance companies either dramatically increase premiums or refuse to insure drivers who have had a break in coverage, even if the break was due to military service. For example:

  • One major insurer quotes a 5% higher premium to service members who had a break in coverage while on active duty than to civilians with no break in coverage
  • Another major insurer refuses to provide an online quote to service members who had a break in coverage while on active duty
  • Several insurers surcharge good drivers between 12% and 63% if they report having had a break in coverage, even if they have never caused an accident, gotten a ticket, or filed a claim

Allowing insurance companies to raise premiums by hundreds or thousands of dollars, or deny coverage to people trying to re-enter the insurance market and comply with the law, adds additional barriers to coverage and leaves many safe drivers uninsured.

Punishing lower‐income good drivers limits economic opportunities, leads to increased levels of uninsured motorists, and raises premiums for all Michigan drivers

When basic insurance prices unnecessarily rise for safe drivers because of non-driving related factors, many working families, the unemployed and underemployed, single women, and others struggling financially either cannot drive or they drive uninsured. Choosing not to drive dramatically limits economic opportunity, while driving uninsured exposes motorists to fines, license suspension, and possible jail time.

These pricing practices also weigh on drivers who purchase coverage. With as many as a million or more Michigan drivers uninsured, and more simply not driving because insurance is unaffordable, drivers paying for coverage face higher rates. When so many good drivers are squeezed out of the insurance pool and risk is not as widely spread as it could be, those in the market pay higher premiums. More fairness in pricing would make the market affordable to more Michigan drivers, which would help lower premiums for everyone.


No-Fault Repeal Legislation: Bad Policy, Poorly Written

A blog post by CPAN Legal Counsel George Sinas

The sponsors of the 7-bill package identified as HB 5517 – 5523 claim that these bills will repeal the Michigan No-Fault Act and return Michigan to a system of pure tort law. Apart from the social irresponsibility of such legislation, is the harsh reality that these bills, as currently written, are a drafting nightmare that are virtually impossible to fully understand.

george-t-sinas
Clearly these bills outlaw the sale of all no-fault PIP policies after January 1, 2020. Therefore, people injured in auto accidents after that date must pursue other legal rights. Yet those rights are unclear under the language of these bills. The point is well demonstrated by a review of the language of HB 5517 which appears at page 42, line 19 through page 45, line 22. Anyone supporting these bills should be challenged to explain exactly what that language really means. On one hand, this language could be read to mean that victims of accidents occurring after January 1, 2020 have full legal rights to pursue, in tort, economic and non-economic loss claims against the at-fault driver. However, this language could also be read to mean that, for policies issued after January 1, 2020, the tort law provisions of the statute do not apply in any respect. As a result of this confusion, no clear rules emerge for auto accidents occurring after January 1, 2020. In fact, the ambiguity is of such a nature that one could argue there are no specific rules governing the rights of people injured in auto accidents occurring after January 1, 2020.

At a minimum, the language deficits that exist in this legislation, if passed, will probably result in years of litigation seeking clarification from the Michigan appellate courts regarding the true intent of the legislature. Michigan citizens deserve far better than this mess. If the legislature is going to seriously consider repealing the Michigan Auto No-Fault Law and replacing it with a pure tort law system (a policy decision that would be an egregious mistake), those offering such legislation have a duty to write it in a manner that is precise and unambiguous. These bills are a colossal failure in that regard.

What is even worse, is that the proponents of these bills do not seem to care much about the current ability of the Michigan tort system to fully replace the No-Fault System. Apparently, it is the intent of this legislation to provide that auto accident victims will have only one place to turn for reimbursement of medical expenses, lost wages, and diminished quality of life – the at-fault drivers’ liability insurance policy. Nevertheless, these bills have left in place the antiquated state minimum liability insurance requirements mandating that drivers carry only $20,000 of liability insurance. That minimal level of coverage will not be enough to pay for even a few days of hospitalization, let alone compensate the other substantial expenses incurred by accident victims.

In addition to the fundamental failures discussed above is the disturbing fact that this package of bills sets the stage for insurance companies to help themselves to the $21 billion-dollar MCCA bank account after the MCCA closes out its last PIP claims. Under the MCCA “Plan of Operation,” insurance companies can theoretically act to refund to themselves any “surplus” that may exist in the MCCA coffers. The only protection against such a taking is the prohibition contained in the current no-fault statute that allows the Michigan Department of Insurance and Financial Services Director to invalidate any provision in the MCCA Plan of Operation that would be inconsistent with the objectives of the MCCA. Recognizing that this provision could interfere with a money grab by insurance companies, the bill [HB 5517] at page 39, line 17 to page 40, line 1, eliminates the power of the Department Director to block such efforts to commandeer money belonging to Michigan policy holders. Perhaps that is the real motivation for the repeal of the Michigan No-Fault System – to allow insurance companies to seize the $21 billion-dollar fund amassed from the MCCA assessment fees Michigan drivers were required to pay over the past four decades.

No one who is sincerely interested in creating an auto insurance reparation system that adequately meets the needs of seriously injured citizens could ever support such a reprehensible piece of legislation as that which is embodied by HB 5517 – 5523. CPAN believes it is time to stop playing politics and look for reasonable and realistic solutions to reform the Michigan Auto No-Fault Law – a law which has consistently achieved national recognition as a model insurance system.