Michigan's no-fault law to blame for high Detroit car insurance rates, says report


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Drivers in the Motor City pay exorbitant rates for auto insurance — among the highest in the nation, at more than $3,000 per year per vehicle.

Why? According to a lengthy Free Press report released over the weekend, Michigan's unique no-fault insurance law is to blame. This is despite the fact that since 2003 there have been fewer car crashes in Wayne County. There have been, however, more lawsuits.

The paper reviewed 1,500 first-party lawsuits filed in Wayne County Circuit Court in early 2015 and interviewed dozens of experts. The Free Press found that overpriced medical bills and settlements are rampant under the current system. As one expert says, Michigan is "the crown jewel for people who seek to game the system."

The issue has been a constant point of contention for Mayor Mike Duggan. In his State of the City Address in February he said "the system is completely out of control."

Two years ago, Duggan proposed a reform called D-Insurance, which he said could reduce average premiums for Detroit drivers by $600 to more than $2,000 a year by giving drivers an option to purchase policies with a monetary cap on medical benefits. The plan is stalled in Lansing, opposed by the hopsital lobby and attorneys.

"Lawyers are taking … a good chunk of the medical bills and they’re taking them in legal fees — driving the costs up more,” he said at the State of the City. “And of course, the insurance companies pass all of this on with a profit. So the insurance companies are doing fine, the lawyers are doing fine, the hospitals are doing fine, and all of us are paying the bill.”

Or just go without it at all. According to the report, police have estimated that up to 60 percent of people in Detroit drive without car insurance.

Take some time to read the report in full.

There will be a town hall-style panel discussion about Detroit's auto insurance Monday evening, starting at 7 p.m. at Galilee Missionary Baptist Church, 5251 East Outer Drive, Detroit. It will be moderated by Mildred Gaddis of WCHB-AM: NewsTalk 1200.

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