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Michigan insurance industry gets $1 billion raise as drivers face losing No-Fault protections

April 30, 2011 by Steven M. Gursten

National insurance leader touts Michigan’s thriving insurance industry, while state lawmakers aim to deprive our drivers of ‘best auto insurance coverage in the country’

As No-Fault insurance lawyers, we are all too familiar with how insurance companies treat injured people and accident victims. But the latest headlines made even someone as cynical as myself shake my head. Michigan’s auto insurance industry wants to have its cake and eat it too (that would be you, dear reader).

See, Michigan’s insurance industry is already making boatloads of money through premiums from its paying customers. It gives huge raises to its executives and other industry professionals. And it says it wants to increase its clout with the State of Michigan by becoming one of the state’s major sources of tax revenue and employment.

But what Michigan’s insurance industry does not want to do is exactly what it is supposed to do: pay money out on legitimate No-Fault insurance claims filed by drivers who have been seriously injured in car accidents.

Not content with the nation’s highest profitability margins in this state, they want to increase profits by slashing protections for drivers. And with the Republicans in all three branches of government, the insurance industry sees an opportunity now, after all those campaign contributions they’ve made.

Senate Bills would gut No-Fault insurance protections for Michigan car accident victims

That’s why the auto insurance industry is backing recently introduced Senate Bills that would gut the generous and valuable protections afforded under Michigan’s No-Fault law, especially No Fault’s crown jewel: unlimited, lifetime medical benefits for seriously and catastrophically injured drivers.

A recent presentation to the Michigan Insurance Coalition reveals just how unnecessary these Senate bills actually are. You may decide what other adjectives apply to these bills that will kill our No-Fault protections for the injured – such as callous, cynical or greedy.

Michigan auto insurance industry reveals how greedy and unnecessary the proposed No-Fault laws really are

In late January, Robert P. Hartwig, president and chief economist for the Insurance Information Institute, a national insurance industry advocacy group, gave a presentation to the Michigan Insurance Coalition about the insurance industry’s economic impact on Michigan.

Hartwig’s presentation dispelled any notion that Michigan’s insurance industry is so strapped for cash that it needs to strip drivers of their generous, valuable No-Fault benefits. Keep in mind, the Insurance Institute of Michigan says Michigan No-Fault Law provides “the best auto insurance coverage in the country” and “the best No-Fault medical benefits of any state.”

Hartwig says Michigan’s insurance industry is booming. Consider the following points from Hartwig’s presentation:

o Premiums for Michigan auto insurance companies are up nearly $4 billion over the past decade.

o Michigan insurance industry executives and professionals received a $1 billion “raise” in their compensation over the past decade.

o Insurance companies make more money in property and casualty premiums (including auto insurance premiums) in Michigan than they do in 80 percent of the country’s other states.

o The Michigan insurance industry’s contribution to the state’s Gross Domestic Product has doubled since 1997.

o Michigan’s insurance industry (and related activities) “grew nearly four times faster on average than the state economy overall” between 1998 and 2008.

o Premium taxes paid to the State of Michigan by insurance companies doing business in Michigan were up $65 million (or 34.2 percent) over the past decade.

So, next time you hear a politician or an auto insurance executive carrying on about how Michigan’s No-Fault auto insurance law needs to be changed, ask them about Hartwig’s presentation and why a booming insurance industry that can afford a $1 billion raise for its executives and professionals should be allowed to accumulate even more vast wealth by stripping Michigan drivers of important auto insurance protections.

Steve Gursten is recognized as one of the nation’s top insurance lawyers handling serious auto accident lawsuits. He writes about insurance company abuse and the No-Fault laws in Michigan, and is available for comment.

Related information:

Show us the money from proposed changes to Michigan No-Fault

Three potential cases for Michigan auto accidents

Michigan No-Fault insurance benefits

Michigan Auto Law is the largest law firm exclusively handling car accident, truck accident and motorcycle accident cases throughout the entire state. We have offices in Farmington Hills, Detroit, Ann Arbor, Grand Rapids and Sterling Heights to better serve you. Call (248) 353-7575 for a free consultation with one of our No-Fault insurance lawyers.

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