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Michigan no-fault insurance testimony before large crowd

An overflow crowd at the House hearing.
Chelsea Hagger
Michigan Public Radio Network
An overflow crowd at the House hearing.

Advocates hoping to keep the Michigan No Fault Personal Injury Protection auto insurance told members of the Michigan House of Representatives Insurance Committee that it would be a mistake to change the law. 

The hearing was packed with an overflow crowd spilling into other rooms to watch the proceedings on TVs. 

The proposal would allow car owners to buy lower levels of Personal Injury Protection in an effort to lower insurance costs. The insurance industry estimates it might save auto owners 15% if they choose less coverage.  However, nothing in the legislation guarantees any savings would result in lower insurance premiums.  There are also provisions to exempt insurance companies and their agents from lawsuits if they sell too little coverage to auto owners, as well as a controversial measure to keep voters from reversing the legislation if it passes.

Advocates of keeping the law as it is now outlined the disadvantages of changing the law,  and insisted it would cost Michigan auto owners more in the long run.  The advocates say if drivers bought the lesser coverage, other auto owners would have to buy more expensive liability insurance and pay more for their own Personal Injury Protection to be as well protected as they are now. 

One advocate suggested implementing government "price controls" on medical care, which are included in the bill, would only result in higher costs in health care insurance for everyone else.

Former Republican legislator Jim Howell seemingly lectured the House panel about the trappings of voting to change the No Fault Personal Injury Protection.  He says the insurance industry's claims that the insurance is unsustainable are the same claims made by the industry 20 years ago.

Further testimony will be held this afternoon and again on Thursday.

Lester Graham reports for The Environment Report. He has reported on public policy, politics, and issues regarding race and gender inequity. He was previously with The Environment Report at Michigan Public from 1998-2010.
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