Advance Notice: Briefs

Special committee formed for no-fault fix

By: - January 17, 2019 7:30 pm

Michigan Capitol | Susan J. Demas

As lowering Michigan’s auto insurance rates is a key legislative priority, the state House of Representatives has announced the membership of a special committee to tackle the issue.

Chaired by state Rep. Jason Wentworth (R-Clare), the nine-member special committee also includes Reps. Daire Rendon (R-Lake City) as vice chair and Donna Lasinski (D-Scio Twp.) as minority vice chair.

Jason Wentworth

Other members are: Reps. Lynn Afendoulis (R-Grand Rapids Twp.); Kyra Bolden (D-Southfield); Ben Frederick (R-Owosso); Beau LaFave (R-Iron Mountain); Terry Sabo (D-Muskegon); and Karen Whitsett (D-Detroit).

“Michigan drivers are demanding more affordable car insurance rates, and it’s well past time we deliver them,” Wentworth said in a statement. “I’m confident this group of legislators — with representation from Detroit all the way to Menominee — will develop a meaningful fix that unquestionably brings real rate relief for all Michiganders. Let’s get to work and get it done.”

The special committee will have the authority to report legislation directly to the House floor for consideration.

Michigan’s auto insurance rates are frequently among the highest in the nation, which critics contend is due to the state’s no-fault insurance law. Reform has been discussed in the Legislature for decades and this year has emerged as a top priority for both chambers.

The state Senate has made auto insurance its top priority. A bipartisan group, led by Sen. Aric Nesbitt (R-Lawton), has expressed support for the concept of lowering rates. But just what mechanisms they might turn to to achieve that remains unclear.

Sen. Aric Nesbitt talks to reporters about no-fault insurance reform legislation, Jan. 15, 2019 | Nick Manes

Historically, stakeholder groups like hospitals and insurance companies have bristled at the idea of letting drivers go without high-ticket insurance policies that include things like catastrophic claims coverage. Those concerns show no signs of ceasing this time around.

“We are pleased that [Senate Majority Leader Mike] Shirkey and other leaders are willing to listen to all sides, because for too long the no-fault discussion in the Legislature has been dominated by the insurance industry, to the detriment of consumers and accident victims,” Tim Hoste, President of the Michigan Brain Injury Provider Council, said in a statement.

“Each day, brain injury providers see first-hand how no-fault protections save lives,” Hoste continued. “Eliminating these protections would be devastating to thousands of Michigan families, many of whom would be forced into medical bankruptcy and have no choice but to put their loved ones into state-funded nursing homes ill-equipped to handle their needs. MBIPC looks forward to the Legislature addressing our legitimate ideas and concerns as we work together to lower auto insurance premiums without depriving auto accident survivors of the care they need.”

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Nick Manes
Nick Manes

Nick Manes is a former Michigan Advance reporter, covering West Michigan, business and labor, health care and the safety net. He previously spent six years as a reporter at MiBiz covering commercial real estate, economic development and all manner of public policy at the local and state levels.