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What will Michigan No-Fault insurance look like?

October 6, 2011 by Steven M. Gursten

Michigan insurance attorney says greedy auto insurance companies should be careful what they wish for with PIP Choice

No one has a crystal ball, and to an extent, everyone is guessing about what our Michigan No-Fault law will look like a year from now. Nevertheless, my comments in Michigan Lawyers Weekly from my recent interview in the story, No Fault? Personal injury protection limits said to be good for insurers, but others question proposals, seem to have caused quite a stir, based upon the e-mails, phone calls, and posts about the story.

What I said was this: the insurance companies pushing for their wish list of “reforms” (read: boondoggles) on No Fault-PIP benefits should be very careful what they wish for. They may get it. And if they do, that should be the end of the grand experiment of No-Fault in Michigan – killed by insurance company greed.

This was my analysis: if the auto insurance companies win on PIP “choice” with low protection minimums (PIP choice coverage was only $50,000 in SB 293 and SB 294, and if the partisan Michigan Supreme Court or the Republican Michigan Legislature chooses to overturn McCormick v. Carrier in the next year — to a much more draconian auto accident threshold law in this state — then there is no longer any reason to have No-Fault.

If No-Fault PIP becomes essentially worthless on the first-party side, and if Michigan returns to having the harshest auto accident injury threshold law in the nation on the third- party side that prevents people with serious fractures and surgeries from being able to sue for pain and suffering from auto accidents, then what is there worth fighting to keep?

And the answer, as I told the reporter from Michigan Lawyers Weekly, is of course, nothing.

In that event, I would be in favor of abolishing Michigan No-Fault and returning Michigan to a pure tort state, where at least people injured in car accidents have some decent chance of getting compensation and protection.

And here’s the rub: the insurance companies in this state – who already make some of the nation’s highest profits, are now drunk with greed and see a giant opportunity. With all three branches of the Michigan government in GOP hands, insurance company lobbyists see the chance to enact by legislation what Michigan voters already voted down by huge landslide margins in Prop C and D in the ’90s.

And, looking at the opportunity to further increase profits by up to $109 million a year (according to the recent Anderson Study), and cap their exposure on catastrophic car accident injuries by pushing those over PIP limits onto the taxpayers and Medicare, they’re pushing the Michigan legislature in our Post-Citizens United World of unlimited insurance company political contributions to make good on all the money they’ve been spending on campaign contributions to the GOP.

They should be careful what they wish for. They just might get it.

And I doubt the insurance companies would like being “forced” to give up their outlandish and outsized profits that they already make in Michigan under our No-Fault system.

Steven Gursten is recognized as one of the nation’s insurance attorneys handling serious auto accident lawsuits. He frequently writes about Michigan No-Fault, and is available for comment.

– Photo courtesy of Creative Commons, by rjrgmc28

Related information to protect yourself:

Hope Network of Grand Rapids opposes No-Fault “reform”

HB 4936: What the new bill would do to Michigan’s No-Fault protections

Your 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 Michigan insurance attorneys.

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