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auto insurance

car crash
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Michigan legislators are debating auto insurance this week. One proposal would let people choose different levels of coverage – dropping the mandatory open-ended catastrophic medical coverage that's in place now.  Another plan would prohibit the use of zip codes and credit histories to set rates. Everyone – with the possible exception of the insurance companies – seems to agree rates are too high.

Morning Edition host Doug Tribou asks Michigan Radio's senior news analyst Jack Lessenberry if he sees any path to a deal. 

Michigan State Police patrol vehicle shield
Michigan State Police

Michigan's state police director this week jumped into the debate over the decision of some NFL players to take a knee during the National Anthem. Col. Kriste Etue now faces an internal review by her department after she shared a Facebook post that called those players "anti-American degenerates." This Week in Review, Weekend Edition host Rebecca Kruth and senior news analyst Jack Lessenberry talk about whether her career can recover.

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If you’re a Michigander, odds are the only thing you complain about as much as the weather is the cost of your car insurance.

And you’re right to.

 

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A new plan by state lawmakers to bring down Michigan’s expensive auto insurance rates is in the works. A rollout of the plan is expected as soon as tomorrow.

State House Speaker Tom Leonard dropped some hints as to what might be in the proposal this past weekend. He was a on a panel at a Republican Party conference on Mackinac Island.He said giving consumers the option to choose how much coverage they can afford, and limiting what hospitals can charge for treating accident victims are both important.

hundred dollar bills
Pictures of Money / creative commons http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Gov. Rick Snyder this week signed off on legislation that expands campaign donation limits for certain types of donors. Moreover, the "Citizens United" bills let politicians solicit money on behalf of political action committees. This Week in Review, Michigan Radio Weekend Edition host Rebecca Kruth and senior news analyst Jack Lessenberry try and read between the lines.

Car accident
Ted Abbott/Flickr

An unlikely alliance has formed to overhaul Michigan’s auto no-fault system. Speaker of the House Tom Leonard, R-DeWitt, and Detroit’s mayor Mike Duggan met Tuesday. They say the goal is to bring rate relief to all Michigan drivers.

 

The Michigan State Capitol
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Michigan lawmakers returned to Lansing last week to launch the fall session.

State House Speaker Tom Leonard, R-DeWitt, joined Stateside today to break down the legislative priorities this session for Michigan’s House of Representatives.

Cars on the freeway
Flickr user a.saliga

Based on data from an insurance comparison website, Detroit has the best drivers in the country. But the statistic has some caveats. 

Seattle-based Quote Wizard looked at the 75 largest metropolitan areas in the U.S. for the study. It created the ranking based on reports to insurance companies of accidents, DUIs, speeding tickets, and minor citations. 

Zelda Richardson / Flickr - http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

There will be no sunlight on the records of an auto insurance fund that affects every Michigan driver.

The Michigan Supreme Court on Wednesday turned down an appeal from a coalition of health care, labor and consumer groups. The groups want to open the books to understand how the state Catastrophic Claims Association calculates rates.

The insurance fund was created to reimburse insurers for claims that exceed $545,000. Owners pay a fee on every vehicle each year, on top of regular insurance. Starting July 1, the rate will rise to $170 from $160.

Car accident
Daniel X. O'Neil/Flickr / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

If you’re a driver in Michigan, it's not exactly breaking news to hear that our auto insurance rates are some of the highest in the country. Drivers in Detroit pay the most. One study estimated an average of $3,400 annually. By comparison, the national average is about $900.

Defer Elementary School in Grosse Pointe Park.
Appraiser / Creative Commons http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Public schools in Bloomfield Hills and Birmingham are already charging tuition for students outside the district who want to attend. Now, because of budget cuts and declining enrollment, it looks like Grosse Pointe Public Schools might follow suit.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Controversial legislation to scrap unlimited, lifetime medical coverage for car crash victims is back up for consideration in Lansing.

Proponents of the current system say the law makes sure victims are taken care of. But Republicans have been trying for decades to scale back the state’s unlimited medical coverage for people injured in car crashes.  

The proposed legislation would let consumers pick their levels of coverage.

Speaker of the House Tom Leonard says auto no-fault overhaul is one of his party’s biggest priorities.

Prison bars
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A former camp counselor from suburban Detroit was sentenced to 10 years in federal prison for taking nude photos of young boys and posting them online. The judge who sentenced 22-year-old Matthew Kuppe said he thought the sentence was too harsh, but Kuppe's plea deal left him with no choice. This Week in Review, Weekend Edition host Rebecca Kruth and senior news analyst Jack Lessenberry take a closer look at the case.

They also talk about former state Sen. Virgil Smith's possible bid for a Detroit Council seat, a lawsuit to force state Attorney General Bill Schuette's office to turn over personal emails that discuss public business, and a push to ban  7-day auto insurance plans in Michigan. 

https://www.flickr.com/photos/christopherbibbs/2380738854/

Detroiters pay some of the highest auto insurance rates of anyone in the country. A significant share of the city’s residents do not make enough to pay for continuous insurance coverage. That presents problems when it comes time to get a vehicle registered.

As a result, many have turned to a legal workaround called 7-day auto insurance. Now, that loophole may be closing. 

John Auchter / Auchtoon.com

We're nearing the end of the season of Lent, and for Catholics (and others who participate in the Lenten practice of "giving up stuff") this is around the time we tend to lose focus and start to obsess about the beer or chocolate or whatever we pledged to eschew for 40 days.

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The cost of auto insurance in the state of Michigan is going up. The Michigan Catastrophic Claims Association (MCCA) is adding another $10 to its annual fee, coming in at $170 a year.

Thanks in part to Michigan auto insurance law, which requires that all drivers have no-fault insurance policies on their vehicles, the state has some of the highest insurance rates in the country. 

So is it worth it?

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

With only two days left on the schedule, Republican leaders have added a surprise piece of legislation to their to-do list.

Some major changes to Michigan’s no-fault auto insurance could be voted on before the end of the session if Republican leaders have their way.

Republican leaders have restarted discussions on legislation to limit benefits under Michigan’s no fault law. The legislation would scale back the medical benefits provided to those who suffer catastrophic injuries in automobile wrecks.

Flickr user Keturah Stickann/Flickr / HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

 

Are women worse drivers than men? Michigan auto insurance companies appear to think so.

In most states, there’s not much of a difference between auto insurance rates for men and women. But in Michigan, there’s a difference of about 4.03% between them, with men paying $2,087 and women paying $2,175.

Flickr user Pictures of Money/Flickr / HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

Anna Clark is a freelance journalist who lives in Detroit. She owns a 2007 Ford Focus and has never had to make an auto insurance claim. 

But she's preparing to move out of Detroit, to Ann Arbor, and just recently learned her insurance is going to drop by a staggering amount.

"You'd think I might be delighted that I suddenly have this much extra money per month that I'm not paying on insurance for the next year, but I was actually horrified," Clark said. 

Car rear ended another car in Ann Arbor.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A consumer advocate says many low to moderate income people pay much more for car insurance, even with the same driving record and zip code as wealthier people.

Bob Hunter is with the Consumer Federation of America.

He says major insurance companies use factors like marital status, education, occupation, and home ownership as proxies for income.

He says in general, people who are single, don't own a home, didn't go to college, and who work at blue collar jobs, have less money. 

Car rear ended another car in Ann Arbor.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Why is it that the poorest people in Michigan, the ones who face the biggest struggle to find jobs and get to those jobs, are paying the highest auto insurance rates in the country?

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

 

People in Detroit pay some of the highest auto insurance rates in the nation. Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan believes that’s part of the reason people move out of the city. He’s put together a plan to provide cheaper auto insurance for city residents. Some critics think it would be a bad deal for Detroiters.

user H.L.I.T. / Flickr

Last year, 876 people died in Michigan car crashes, according to the state police.

Another 71,000 were injured.  

Some of those injuries were catastrophic, leaving people with lifelong brain damage, in wheelchairs, or hooked up to ventilators.

During his first term, Governor Rick Snyder attempted to get the legislature to pass bills that would have severely limited the amount victims of catastrophic auto accidents could collect.

Juan Alvarez / Creative Commons

Police in Michigan are using an easy way to check whether a motor vehicle is properly insured.

Michigan State Police and other agencies can tell whether most vehicles are insured by running a license plate number through an in-car computer.

Getting a ticket
Jimmy Emerson / Creative Commons

Michigan drivers who have trouble keeping track of paper proof of insurance forms may soon have another option.

The state House this week passed a bill that would let drivers use smartphones or other electronic devices to show proof of insurance when pulled over.

Many insurance companies already offer apps and other ways for insured drivers to view their information electronically.  

crash below I-96
Ray Dumas / Creative Commons

The Michigan Catastrophic Claims Association says it will lower the fee that gets tacked onto all drivers' insurance policies. 

Starting this July, the fee will drop from $186 to $150 per car annually. The announcement comes after some lawyers complained earlier this month that the fee was too high.

deployed airbag
Dimland

LANSING – The public has no right to see the records of an insurance fund that puts a fee on cars to pay for catastrophic injuries. That’s the opinion of the Michigan appeals court.

The Appeals Court said today that the Michigan Catastrophic Claims Association is not covered by a public records law.

It overturned a 2012 decision by an Ingham County judge.

The insurance fund was created by the Legislature to reimburse insurance companies for claims that exceed $500,000.

A political controversy in Lansing that just won’t die is back: auto no-fault insurance. There is yet another Republican effort to muscle through an auto no-fault overhaul, this time being led by state House Speaker Jase Bolger.

There’s a lot in this proposal, released just yesterday, but one of the main things is a cap on the state’s currently unlimited medical benefits if you are injured in a crash. Under the Bolger plan, these benefits would top out at $10 million. Other parts of the proposal include limits on hospital fees and payments for in-home care, incentives to avoid litigation, and a guaranteed rate rollback in the first two years of coverage.

Essentially, there is something in this plan for all of the special interests that have a stake in the auto no-fault system – hospitals, insurance companies, trial lawyers – to dislike. But, Bolger says, bring it on.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The Michigan Legislature is considering bills that would overhaul auto insurance in the state.

There are several aspects to this. Jake Neher with the Michigan Public Radio Network joined us today to help us wade through what has been proposed. 

Listen to the full interview above.

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