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Is insurance fraud causing auto No-Fault premiums to rise, or are insurance companies price-gouging and trying to hide the truth?

February 20, 2012 by Steven M. Gursten

Insurance lawyer says truth is not what the insurance industry would like public to believe

There is a lie being spread by the auto No-Fault insurance industry in Michigan — a lie that our auto insurance premiums are more expensive due to insurance fraud.

This from an insurance industry that is making record-breaking profits– and on the heels of a $1 billion raise. The insurance industry would love to divert attention away from its own profits and find something – anything – to blame the cost of our premiums on.

In a recent press release from the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America (PCI), the group stated that fraud is “forcing” drivers into paying more for their auto insurance, especially in states like Michigan:

Soaring medical bills, high attorney fees and rampant fraud and abuse are forcing drivers in (several of the nation’s largest states including Michigan) to pay significantly more for auto insurance than they should,” said Paul Blume, senior vice president of state government relations for PCI. “Over the last several years, fraud rings and abuses of the system have cost consumers over $1.6 billion in New York and Florida alone. This amounts to a “fraud tax” on hardworking citizens and the cost trends in these states are unsustainable.”

This fraud and abuse argument couldn’t be farther from the truth. The insurance industry always lumps Michigan into its paint-with-a-broad brush approach. Yet the insurance industry has not produced actual cases of No-Fault insurance fraud in Michigan.

Yes, there have been widely publicized abuses occurring in other states. Yes, I will be the first to say there are some No-Fault insurance lawyers who are too aggressive today, and from time to time I blog about these excesses as well.

But unlike what is happening in some states, in Michigan the insurance companies are making record-breaking profits. In other words, the real cost driver of auto insurance remains an insurance industry that is almost entirely unregulated in what it can charge Michigan drivers who are forced by law to purchase No-Fault insurance.

Want to really curb insurance fraud? I’d start with empowering our insurance commissioner to regulate clearly excessive premiums that insurance companies charge here in Michigan. And then watch the cost of No-Fault insurance premiums plummet.

There is no reason why insurance companies should make more money off the backs of Michigan drivers in this state than they do in any other state in the US.

And fraud goes two ways. If we are really serious about fraud, then why not start tackling the insurance company IME industry of cut-off doctors that find nothing wrong with anyone, and that always deny people their PIP benefits, no matter how serious the injuries?

There will always be accusations by the insurance industry’s spin doctors, but so far these accusations have been without any factual support. In fact, this report from the National Crime Insurance Bureau puts Michigan at the lower end of questionable claims.

Let’s control excessive insurance industry profits before we pass No-Fault “reform”

Meanwhile, this same insurance industry wants to increase profits even more. There is a huge push by the insurance industry for No-Fault “reform” that would eliminate vital insurance protections. In exchange for the suggestion of lower premiums (they refuse to promise), drivers would be able to choose lower amounts of PIP insurance coverage that provide limited No-Fault (PIP) benefits – including levels clearly insufficient if someone is seriously injured in a car accident, truck accident or motorcycle accident.

These auto accident victims would simply be pushed onto Medicaid. And taxpayers will be stuck footing the bill.

So while the deep-pocketed insurance industry is aiming to take away our most important insurance protections – touted by the insurance industry itself as the best No-Fault system in the nation — I’d look to the insurance industry first as the reason why our No-Fault insurance premiums are so expensive.

It’s not because there’s rampant insurance fraud in Michigan. And it is not because of the cost of medical care or No-Fault attorney fees, as the insurance industry spin-doctors would like us to believe.

It is because, again, Michigan is one of the only states that does not allow our insurance commissioner the power to regulate excessive profit-gouging by our own auto insurance companies. To put it simply, our insurance is high because the insurance industry makes it that way, in order to charge more and make higher profits in Michigan than in any other state in the country!

Steve Gursten is one of the nation’s top insurance attorneys handling auto accident lawsuits. He is head of Michigan Auto Law and president of the Motor Vehicle Trial Lawyers Association. Steve frequently writes about Michigan auto insurance and insurance company abuse, and is available for comment.

Related Information:

Help save Michigan No-Fault: Write your representatives

Charade over “savings” from Michigan No-Fault “reform” has finally stopped

Michigan No-Fault insurance resource center

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 (800) 777-0028 for a free consultation with one of our Michigan insurance attorneys.

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