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Court: Insurance fund is public, but its records aren’t

Car accident
Ted Abbott/Flickr

A group of insurance companies that sets a mandatory car insurance fee does not have to say how it comes up with that fee. That decision came today from the Michigan Court of Appeals.

The Michigan Catastrophic Claims Association was created by an act of the Legislature, but it’s run by insurance companies. This year, the MCCA collects $160 on every insured vehicle. The money is used to pay the most-expensive medical bills of victims of car crashes.

“It is the mechanism that provides for the health care for someone who is catastrophically injured, which can be millions of dollars, and if that fund is not well-cared for, then the entire no-fault system could collapse,” said Josh Hovey, a spokesman for a coalition of trial lawyers, hospitals, and accident victims that sought more information about how the rates are set, and how the money is used.

Hovey says the issue is bigger than a fight over car insurance.

"The ramifications of the majority decision in this case affect government transparency and freedom of information as a whole,” he said.

Hovey says the group is still deciding whether to file an appeal with the Michigan Supreme Court.

Rick Pluta is Senior Capitol Correspondent for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He has been covering Michigan’s Capitol, government, and politics since 1987.
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