MI auto insurance reform: No deal on no-fault yet

LANSING, Mich. (WOOD) — The Michigan Legislature Thursday wrapped up a week filled with discussion of changes to the state’s no-fault auto insurance policy.

But as lawmakers head back to their districts, it’s not clear that reform is closer to becoming a reality.

Reform advocates say the state’s auto insurance premiums are too high, the catastrophic fund is not transparent, and there are no choices of what to buy.

However, proponents of no-fault auto insurance say people who are seriously injured can’t afford less coverage, and trimming benefits could shift finical responsibility to taxpayer-funded, government-administered, health care: Medicare.

Tuesday, the Insurance committee met for at least eight hours before and after session to talk about a plan being pushed by the House Speaker Tom Leonard, R – Dewitt, and Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan. The measure would institute mandatory premium deductions for policies that have a cap on health care payouts.

The committee met again Thursday, but still couldn’t come to a vote.

Even if it does get voted out of committee, the proposal may change, and there is no assurance it will pass the full House. The Senate and industry lobbyists have different ideas, too.

“I don’t know how likely it is that any of these interest groups will ultimately agree. The real point is, it doesn’t matter what they think. We should be focused as legislators, as policy makers on what’s good for the public, what’s good for drivers and (for) Michigan families. That’s the key, and the key to doing that is making sure that we’re reducing auto insurance premiums for Michigan families without cutting the benefits that those who are in catastrophic accidents need for long-term care,” said Democratic Rep. Tim Greimel of Auburn Hills.

The House will pick up its discussions about the plan next week. Meanwhile, expect other ideas to be introduced, possibly in both chambers, in the coming weeks.