I was recently invited to author a guest post for the The Free Press.
In the post, I tried to help people understand that it’s profits, not medical claims from auto accidents that are driving up the costs of auto insurance in Michigan. Based on the comments, I have my work cut-out for me.
You see, Michigan auto insurance companies are working really hard. They’re spending a lot of money. And most of this hard work and spending is aimed at one thing: hoping you will overlook how much money they are making.
They want you to believe that the cost of high insurance is because of people who were seriously hurt in car accidents and who are now the cause of high insurance premiums. That these people are somehow now “on the public dole.” That your neighbors are trying to make a quick buck from the no fault system by being injured in car accidents. That the reason that you’re paying such a high auto insurance premium is because the people (not the insurance companies) are bilking the system.
And the auto insurance companies are doing a good job. They have a huge advantage because they can turn around and spend millions of dollars that we pay in insurance premiums to engage in propaganda. They’re convincing you to ignore the math. They’re convincing you to listen to your legislators (the same ones that they can now contribute unlimited amounts of money to after Citizens United). They’re convincing you that these same legislators have nothing to gain by supporting the insurance company “wish lists” that help them make more money.
But you’re smarter than that.
You have done the math. If you have met anyone that has been seriously injured in a motor vehicle accident, you know that they need help. You know that, in the overwhelming majority of instances, they have done absolutely nothing wrong. They were just in the wrong place at the wrong time. And now, these survivors are facing huge obstacles in terms of costs for recovery, treatment, and yes, sometimes significant medical care for the rest of their lives. And additional obstacles that these same insurance companies throw up before them, such as insurance company IME doctors who routinely find nothing wrong with people, cutting off their medical care.
Don’t believe me? That’s even better. The good news is that you can look all of this up on your own. That’s the power of the internet. You don’t have to take the word of some lawyer. You can go out and look yourself. Look at the amazing profits that Michigan’s auto insurance companies are making. Look at the number and amount of claims that they are paying out. Go talk to people who have been seriously injured in car accidents in Michigan and see how they are treated by insurance companies and claims adjusters in a state without bad faith laws or punitive damages. The sad reality for far too many is that without these legal protections, Michigan auto insurance companies are not really your friends when you most need help. They’re not your neighbors. They don’t exist to help you by paying claims when you have fallen on hard times.
They exist to collect premiums and, increasingly, to find every way to deny your claims. It’s at the very core of their business model.
And they know to get away with all of this, they have to convince you that they’re the good guys. That’s why you see them on TV. That’s why they are spending millions upon millions of dollars to create mental impressions that they care for their customers. Even hugging their customers. They have friendly, helpful, even lovable spokespeople.
But that’s not real life.