GENERIC: Steering wheel

Michigan's Legislature has overwhelmingly approved a bill that would reduce the country's highest auto insurance premiums.

The votes Friday came after a deal was announced between Republican legislative leaders and Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.

The legislation would offer choice among personal injury protection, or PIP, levels. Michigan is the only state to require that drivers buy unlimited coverage for crash injuries.

"It not fair," a resident said.

The measure also would prohibit the use of several non-driving factors in setting rates and scale back reimbursements for health providers that treat accident victims.

"I think they're crazy, they're sky high and they need to be lowered so we can all afford them," said Stacey Neff-Herrera, a Saginaw resident said. 

The average premium in Michigan is 83% higher than the national average. Detroit's premium on average far surpasses any other U.S. city.

Neff said she's in favor of having choices and hopes that it works. She said she wants everyone to pay less money for auto insurance. 

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer released the following statement:

“Today’s vote is truly historic. We've accomplished more in the last five months than in the last five years. This vote demonstrates that when both parties work together and build bridges, we can solve problems and make life better for the people of Michigan.

This plan will help drivers from Detroit all the way to the U.P. It guarantees lower auto insurance rates for eight years, protects people’s choice to pick their own insurance and coverage options while preserving the safety net, and bans insurance companies from using discriminatory non-driving factors when setting rates.

We still have more important work ahead of us to build a stronger Michigan for everyone. Now we must seize on this momentum to pass a strong, bipartisan budget that raises the revenue we need to improve education and skills training, clean up our drinking water, and fix the damn roads. Let’s get to work, and let’s get it done.”

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel released the following statement:

“After reviewing today’s legislation that overhauls Michigan’s auto insurance system, I feel confident that the Attorney General’s office will have the statutory tools we need to vigorously and thoroughly investigate and prosecute auto insurance fraud in Michigan.

Once this legislation is signed into law, our office will continue to do what we do best: investigate and prosecute crime. To that effect, I look forward to expanding our cooperative relationship with the Department of Insurance and Financial Services so our collaborative efforts can have the greatest impact on protecting Michigan citizens. There are few places where this is more important than in the insurance industry where our team is laser focused on protecting drivers from price gouging and other shameful tactics that have been used in the past.”

Below are statements from Mid-Michigan legislatures regarding the bill:

“I am proud to stand with my Governor in bringing real and significant auto insurance reform that will lower rates for my people. Together we were able to agree on a plan that doesn’t ask us to trade the wellbeing of Michigan’s hardworking families for insurance company handouts. This is the comprehensive reform my people have been waiting for to start moving their families forward," Rep. Brian Elder said.

“Michiganders have grown tired of their astronomically high premiums, and I am proud to support this plan to bring them the relief they deserve. This bill will ban the use of non-driving factors in rate setting while still protecting drivers with the coverage they need. It is not perfect, but it is an excellent step in the right direction," Rep. Tim Sneller said.

“Bringing down the cost of car insurance for families and businesses in Bay and Midland counties has been my highest legislative priority since day one, and I was proud to cast my vote today for a bipartisan plan that after decades of failed attempts, will finally make that rate relief a reality and leave more money in people’s pockets,” Rep. Annette Glenn said. “This landmark legislation guarantees lower rates for all drivers and implements lasting reforms that will control costs now and in the future, something particularly important for senior citizens, middle class and lower income families struggling to make ends meet, and small businesses that already face a big bill at the pump for delivering their products or services." 

“The current system is not one that is working for Michigan and I’ve heard loud and clear from residents that it’s not a system that works for their pocketbooks,” Rep. Mike Mueller said. “We needed more choice. We needed to keep protections for people that ensure good care when it is needed and we need to send a message that our state is no longer going to stick with the status quo of having the highest car insurance costs in the country.”

“After a careful, deliberative process to resolve a decades-long problem, the historic 100th Legislature has finally delivered historic car insurance relief to Michigan families,” Rep. Rodney Wakeman said. “This was a top concern for the people of the 94th District and for Michiganders. I personally heard from countless families. Michigan drivers made it absolutely clear this was a problem, and reform could not wait any longer. My colleagues and I listened, which is why this was our top priority.”

“After productive negotiations with the governor, this bipartisan solution makes common-sense compromises that will undoubtedly reduce the burdensome costs crushing families in mid-Michigan and across the state,” Rep. Ben Frederick said after the vote. “I’m pleased there was willingness on both sides of the aisle to work together to construct a plan guaranteeing Michigan families save a significant amount of money while protecting drivers and their loved ones injured in auto accidents. As a member of the special committee, it was a pleasure being part of the process that led to long-overdue reforms for the people of Michigan. After three months of examining this issue very carefully, I’m confident we have secured the right reform path.”

“I have long supported reforms to reduce Michigan’s highest-in-the-nation car insurance rates, which are having a tremendous impact on family budgets throughout our state,” said Stamas, R-Midland. “This historic and bipartisan reform guarantees lower car insurance rates for Michigan drivers while ensuring that accident victims still receive the medical care they need," Senator Jim Stamas said. “Senate Bill 1 cracks down on fraud and lawsuit abuse, includes cost containments, gives drivers the ability to choose the auto insurance coverage that best meets their needs and budget — for the first time in almost five decades — and cuts the announced $220 annual Michigan Catastrophic Claims Association fee by $180 per vehicle for all options other than unlimited coverage.”

“Over the years in our pursuit to protect the most vulnerable, we created a brand new most-vulnerable class — the working family that could no longer afford auto insurance for their cars. The horribly complicated system that evolved over the years also created a huge obstacle for people trying to live and work in the state of Michigan," Senator Ken Horn said. “The people rose up, shouted up the mountain, and loosened an avalanche of change. With the passage of this reform, Michigan joins 49 other states in properly giving our residents true choice and more control over their own family budgets.”

Copyright 2019 Associated Press/WNEM (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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