COLUMN: Fight for auto insurance reform must go on

Categories: Hornberger News

The fee hike reflected in our auto insurance bills this month serves as the latest painful reminder that we must reform Michigan’s car insurance system.

Beginning July 1, the mandatory annual fee we pay through our car insurance to fund the Michigan Catastrophic Claims Association (MCCA) went up to $192 per vehicle – a 13-percent increase that highlights everything wrong with Michigan’s rigged auto insurance system.

Michigan drivers were already paying the most expensive auto insurance rates in the nation. Our average full-coverage premium cost – nearly $2,400 per year – is more than $1,000 above the national average and twice as high as some neighboring states.

The sky-high prices force many families to choose between putting food on the table, paying their electric bills or getting the car insurance coverage mandated by state law. It’s the major reason why more than 20 percent of Michigan motorists, including almost 60 percent of the drivers in Detroit, are uninsured.

Changing this system is one of my top priorities. Last year I voted for a solution that would have resulted in significant rate reductions by giving Michigan drivers the flexibility to choose their coverage level.

Unfortunately, the House did not approve the plan. Strong lobbying by special interest groups who profit off the current system prevented its passage.

In the current system, medical providers are allowed to charge two or three times more to treat injuries when the patient happens to be the victim of a traffic accident. Treating a concussion should cost roughly the same whether you are in a car crash, fall off a roof or take a hard hit in a football game.

Unscrupulous trial lawyers also love Michigan’s current auto no-fault setup. More than 40 percent of civil lawsuits filed across the state relate to auto accidents.

It’s no wonder these special interests are fighting reform. The current system is rigged in their favor – and against Michigan drivers.

I was proud to support lowering auto insurance rates for all drivers. If your state representative wasn’t supportive, it may be time to ask why.

We must fight back and provide relief to Michigan families who have paid exorbitant rates for far too long.

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State Rep. Pamela Hornberger of Chesterfield Township is serving her first term representing portions of Macomb and St. Clair counties in the Michigan House. Prior to taking office, Rep. Hornberger spent 23 years teaching in the East China School District and also served as a trustee for the L’Anse Creuse Public Schools Board of Education.