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Michigan lawmakers will try again to reform state's auto insurance law

DJ Carmody
Michigan Radio

State lawmakers are once again considering changes to Michigan’s auto insurance laws.

Butit’s a battlethey’ve been losing for years.

When asked Thursday to identify his top legislative goal, Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey (R-Clarklake) said reforming Michigan no-fault auto insurance law.

But he’s quick to admit overcoming the medical and legal lobbies will be difficult.

“That’s the biggest reason why … previous attempts at reform have met with high resistance, is because there’s been many businesses built on and around that statute,” said Shirkey.

Michigan’s auto insurance law requires unlimited medical benefit for injured drivers, and insurance companies blame the mandate for Michigan's high rates. But eliminating the benefit has proven difficult, with hospitals, doctors, and personal injury attorneys lobbying hard to keep it.

An effort to amend the law to give motorists the option to choose from different levels of medical coverage failed in the last legislative session. 

Senate Minority Leader Jim Ananich (D-Flint) would also like to see something done to reduce Michigan’s auto insurance rates, while still protecting people seriously injured in auto accidents.  

Ananich suggests compromise is the only likely path to reform.

“If we let insurance companies write what they want, then it won’t be done. If we let the health care providers write what they want, then it won’t be done,” said Ananich. “If we can sit down and say ‘Everyone’s got to swallow some medicine,' I think we can find a path. I don’t know if they are willing to do that.”

Studies have shown Michigan has some of the highest auto insurance rates in the country.

Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Public since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.
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