Whitmer says Michigan residents can expect big savings on key part of auto insurance


LANSING — Gov. Gretchen Whitmer says Michigan motorists, on average, can expect big savings on a key part of their auto insurance bills. Filings from Michigan auto insurance companies show savings for Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage that not only equals, but exceeds, the savings promised under an auto insurance reform package signed into law in May 2019, Whitmer said in a news release.

The law, which takes effect for policies that issue or renew after July 1, promised savings in PIP coverage of at least 10% to 45%, depending on what size of coverage was purchased. Actual savings on PIP coverage will range from 16.5% to 54.3%, the release said.

Description: Gov. Gretchen Whitmer says Michigan motorists, on average, should enjoy big savings in a key part of their auto insurance bill.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer says Michigan motorists, on average, should enjoy big savings in a key part of their auto insurance bill. (Photo: AP)

The projected PIP savings are based on the first six auto insurance company filings approved by the Michigan Department of Insurance and Financial Services, representing one quarter of Michigan’s auto insurance market, the release said. It did not specify which six companies were included in the analysis.

“This is great news for Michigan drivers and their families,” Whitmer said. “Last year, we worked across the aisle to pass a historic, bipartisan auto insurance reform to bring down costs for drivers everywhere. It’s great to see that it’s paying off for Michiganders, especially during a time when drivers may need extra money in their pockets.”

Still, a recent report commissioned by the Coalition Protecting Auto No-Fault, a Michigan group known as CPAN, which analyzed early filings, said the insurance companies are not lowering their own pricing, despite enjoying lower costs under the new system. Instead, they are relying entirely on cuts to the annual $220-per-vehicle catastrophic claims fee to achieve the law’s mandated price reductions, according to the report by Douglas Heller, a California-based insurance consultant.

This catastrophic claims fee — set by a state association — goes toward the lifetime medical care of the worst-injured accident victims.

More: Report: Drivers won’t save much with no-fault auto insurance reform

More: No-fault claims fee to drop 55% under new Michigan law; many motorists will pay nothing

Since Michigan law no longer requires unlimited catastrophic medical coverage, that fee drops to $100 for those who choose to continue with unlimited medical benefits and disappears for drivers who pick options besides unlimited personal injury protection.

Laura Hall, a spokeswoman for the department, confirmed the projected savings were drawn from calculations that included cuts to the catastrophic claims fee. She declined to identify the insurance companies included in the analysis, saying state law allows that information to remain confidential until the filing takes effect.

Whitmer said the department rejected filings that used rating factors not permitted under the new law, such as sex, marital status, home ownership, or zip code. For the first time, all filed rates were reviewed by outside independent actuaries to confirm compliance with the law, she said.

Anita Fox, director of the state agency, said concerns that savings in the PIP portion of the auto insurance bill would be offset by increased liability insurance costs have proven unfounded.

Even when adjusted for statutory increases in Bodily Injury coverage (BI), the filings continue to show savings better that what the law required, she said.

“Michiganders can also choose a coverage that best fits their family’s needs and budget, and can expect savings for each option,” Fox said.

PIP coverage pays allowable expenses for medical care, recovery, rehabilitation and some funeral expenses, and often represents almost half of an individual driver’s premium.

Rate reductions are shown as statewide averages and are required for eight years. Officials said auto insurance premiums are individual to each consumer and may vary based upon factors such as driving record and miles driven.

Contact Paul Egan: 517-372-8660 or pegan@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @paulegan4 Read more on Michigan politics and sign up for our elections newsletter.