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Detroit News gets facts wrong on No-Fault car insurance reform

September 8, 2017 by Steven M. Gursten

Detroit News editorial on reforming No-Fault law makes up facts, avoids reality of how No-Fault system works

Car Insurance X-Ray

The Detroit News at least got the title of its Tuesday editorial correct when it said, “Make auto insurance reform priority No. 1.”

But beyond that, not so much.

What The Detroit News doesn’t know about the workings of No-Fault car insurance is a lot

I have no problem with the Detroit News writing that our No-Fault car insurance system needs reform. I’ve been writing the same on the pages of this auto lawyer blog for years.

What I do have a problem with is The Detroit News editorial writers making up facts to support its argument that are not true.

In an editorial of inaccurate and uninformed statements, some of the most outrageous examples that The Detroit News included in its editorial for No-Fault reform were the following:

  • “ … attorneys can order as many tests as they wish to make the case for benefits …”
  • “Auto insurance companies are required to cover all expenses, with basically no questions asked …”

Trust me, as a practicing auto accident attorney of 22 years, I can assure you, if these statements weren’t so recklessly false, they’d be laughable.

Auto accident attorneys cannot order medical tests.

Only treating doctors can order medical tests.

And even when a doctor orders a test, it will not be paid for by auto No-Fault insurance unless it is found to be reasonably necessary for a car crash victim’s care, recovery or rehabilitation. If it fails any of these preconditions — if it is not related to an automobile accident, if it is not reasonably necessary, and if it is not expressly for a person’s medical recovery or rehabilitation — it does not get paid for under Michigan’s auto accident law.

Ironically, if anyone can be accused of arbitrarily ordering testing of auto accident victims, it would be the auto insurance companies and their claims adjusters.

Claims adjusters and insurance companies regularly exercise the power conferred on them by the Michigan No-Fault law to require accident victims to submit to so-called “independent” medical exams (IME) by insurance-company hired-gun doctors.

That last sentence is a nice segue into the second most absurd statement in The Detroit News editorial, the inaccurate statement that Michigan auto insurance companies pay No-Fault benefits to victims “with basically no questions asked …”

Tell that to the majority of people who have been seriously injured in an automobile accident. The reality is insurance companies delay, deny and defend legitimate claims constantly. They also cause tremendous hardship for people by doing so. “Asking questions,” so to speak, is basically what claims adjusters do. They do it to avoid paying No-Fault insurance benefits. And many will do for as long as they possibly can.

That’s why they order so many IMEs. These doctors are commonly referred to as “cut-off” doctors for a reason.

Car insurance companies can require auto accident victims to be seen by different doctors that they hand-pick, most of whom make extraordinary amounts of money doing these one-time evaluations on behalf of insurance companies.

To further illustrate how wrong The Detroit News was about insurers paying No-Fault “with basically no questions asked,” consider that, over a 10-year period, there was a 177% spike in auto insurers denying and/or cutting-off benefits to auto accident victims.

What else did The Detroit News get wrong? No-Fault car insurance reform can reduce premiums while preserving critical protections

The Detroit News editorial seems to be written by the car insurance lobbyists.

As I’ve said many times before, we can have the best of both worlds. We can make significant reductions in the cost of car insurance for people while keeping critical protections intact.

Here are the necessary No-Fault reforms I’ve previously written about that lawmakers can — and should — implement to provide price relief for the high cost of car insurance while keeping No-Fault insurance protections in place.

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