What’s next for Michigan’s no-fault auto insurance?

MACKINAC ISLAND, Mich. (WOOD) — The rising cost of Michigan’s no-fault auto insurance has forced some people to drive without insurance altogether, according to Secretary of State Ruth Johnson.

“In Michigan, we did a study to find out through the secretary of state’s office how many people don’t have insurance. And what we found is, it didn’t matter where you were in the state – it was pervasive,” Johnson said during the Republican Leadership Conference on Mackinac Island.

If other drivers can’t or won’t pay for insurance, you will.

“The rest of us are paying $230 million a year in catastrophic funds and uninsured funds to take care of the accidents for people who did not have insurance. It’s unfair for the rest of us,” Johnson said.

It’s an issue that may see possible legislative action this fall.

The secretary of state says she is working on ways to lower that number, but many panel members think the entire system needs to be overhauled. The stumbling block may be that House Speaker Tom Leonard, R–DeWitt, and Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof, R–West Olive, seem to have very different ideas about how that should be done.

Sen. Meekhof says there’s value to the catastrophic claim portion of the plan.

“Maybe (it’s) not as popular as most people think, but you’re paying $180 a car for unlimited health care if you get hurt,” Meekhof said.

“We have great coverage,” he added.

Rep. Leonard sees it differently.

“We are the only state in the nation (that) requires, mandates every citizen of this state has to purchase a premium with an unlimited lifetime liability that has zero cost controls,” Leonard said.

The Senate passed reforms last year that dealt with attendant care, assigned claims and fraud. Meekhof says he thinks that is a good place to start; Leonard clearly has something broader in mind, which we may hear about soon.