Every year politicians come up with plans that put dollar caps on the amount of care someone can receive after an auto accident or limit the amount of in-home assistance a catastrophic accident victim can receive. It’s as if they think by limiting the dollar amounts people will stop getting injured so badly, but that’s just not the way life works.
The reality is that you don’t get to pick how badly you are hurt in an auto accident. You don’t choose between a brain injury, a spinal cord injury or a broken bone. When you are hurt in an accident, all that matters is getting the care you need so that you can do your best to put your life back together.
Anyone who says you can’t reduce rates without taking away coverage from people like myself are not looking very hard. The latest data from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners shows that Michigan has the highest collision coverage rates in the country. Why hasn’t that gotten any attention from media or lawmakers? Why isn’t anyone calling for caps on what auto mechanics and body shops can charge? They don’t work on anything as precious as a human life.
And why are lawmakers so shy about stopping insurance companies from using factors completely unrelated to your driving ability to set your rates? Unlike your age, credit scores have nothing to do with your driving ability. But auto insurers have no problem charging a factory worker with a perfect driving record and poor credit more for their insurance than an office worker who has a couple speeding tickets on their record. That’s flat out unfair.
And why should someone living in Ferndale be charged less for auto insurance than a Detroiter living on the other side of 8 Mile? We all drive on the same streets to and from work. We all get taken to the same hospitals if we get into an accident. Yet the Detroit side of 8 Mile gets charged double for their auto insurance compared to the Ferndale side. That’s called redlining and it’s wrong.
Collision coverage. Credit scoring. Redlining. Those are three examples of ways lawmakers could help reduce auto insurance rates in Detroit. All it takes is standing up to the insurance companies and their deep pocketbooks. Is anyone brave enough to do it?
Brian Banks, J.D. is a former member of the Michigan House of Representative & the Minority Vice Chair of the House Insurance Committee, and currently is a legislative and governmental consultant.