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Mon January 23, 2012
Lawsuit seeks Michigan auto injury claims data
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story reported that the MCCA fee is $145 per driver. It is, in fact, $145 per insured vehicle. If you own, and insure, two cars, the fee would be $290.
A coalition of trial lawyers, unions and victim advocates is going to court seeking data on accidents and insurance payments.
Lawmakers who want to change Michigan’s no-fault insurance system say the current system is unsustainable. But fans of no-fault say the data will show the system is financially sound.
The problem is the information is held by an industry group that does not want to release the information. The group sets an annual assessment on drivers to pay the health care bills of the most-critically injured people.
“This knowledge is being hidden from us, from the Legislature, from the public," said George Sinas, a personal injury attorney who opposes plans to change no-fault. "We are deeply committed in this lawsuit in seeking an end, in seeking a lifting if you will of this shroud of secrecy.”
Sinas says the Michigan Catastrophic Claims Association should be forced to release the information because it was created by the Legislature, and because every driver has to pay the fee.
But the insurance industry disagrees.
"The MCCA is not a public body," said Pete Kuhnmuench, president if the Insurance Institute of Michigan, an industry association. "It’s not even a policymaking body. It’s a payment mechanism. It collects assessments from insurance companies and then it reimburses insurance companies for expenses they have relative to a private contract.”
Kuhnmuench says state insurance regulators make sure the MCCA assessment is fair and that consumers are protected. The MCCA assessment on every insured vehicle in Michigan is $145 this year.