Insurance attorney Steven Gursten is interviewed by Michigan Lawyers Weekly on the Michigan Catastrophic Claims Association now subject to FOIA
I was interviewed last week by Michigan Lawyers Weekly newspaper as an attorney familiar with no fault insurance litigation. This was after the court ruling that forces the Michigan Catastrophic Claims Association (MCCA) to comply with the Freedom of Information Act and disclose its workings to the public.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with the MCCA: It’s a private, nonprofit association made up of a five-person board (comprised from the insurance industry) who manage the fund that compensates auto insurance companies when a no-fault claim exceeds $500,000.
The meetings are also closed to the public.
Talk about the foxes guarding the hen house.
For more information, click here to read a comprehensive analysis of Michigan No Fault reform and the latest developments.
Michigan has had some of the highest auto insurance rates in the country. One of the causes is the annual per-vehicle assessment rate charged by the MCCA. These charges (and large increases in charges in years such as 21% in 2012), have been made in total secrecy.
But now the Michigan driving-public who must pay into the Michigan Catastrophic Claims Association will finally have the right to learn the facts – how the MCCA comes up with its annual $175 per vehicle fee — thanks to the Ingham County Circuit Court ruling.
This is an important development.
I told Michigan Lawyers Weekly reporter that the public has a right to know this information if we’re required to fund the MCCA:
“… there should not be a total information blackout. It’s not the CIA. … We have every right to at least have public disclosure of their finances to see where the money’s going.”
I also told reporter Doug Levy that the 21% increase in 2012 for the MCCA per vehicle assessment also occurred at a time when the auto insurance companies began their push for no-fault “reform” by putting caps on invaluable lifetime medical benefits and attendant care (nursing services) for auto accident victims:
“You don’t have to be a conspiracy theorist to wonder if there are political motivations behind” those factors. The problem is, we have no idea because the five members that sit on the MCCA are all from the insurance industry. … You don’t have an insurance rights advocate sitting on this board.”
This was especially dangerous, because no one outside the MCCA panel has any knowledge of the factual bases behind their decisions. These cases raise bad faith implications. Now, hopefully the MCCA board will become transparent, and face legal reproach like it should have all along.
Here’s the story as it appeared in Michigan Lawyers Weekly: MCCA subject to FOIA, judge rules.