Quicken Loans’ Dan Gilbert proposes ballot decision on Michigan’s Auto No-Fault system, but even he agrees a legislative solution is preferable; Schuette may support Duggan No-Fault Lawsuit

As BIAMI, partnering with the Coalition Protecting Auto No-Fault (CPAN), continues to vigorously advocate for auto insurance rate reduction while protecting survivor benefits, others voices have called for knee-jerk “solutions” that promise lower rates but would leave large groups of Michiganders unprotected in the event of a catastrophic injury.

For example, Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan has urged that, should the legislature fail to fix it within six months, Auto No-Fault (ANF) be scrapped and the state should return to a system where every auto accident would need to be litigated. Dan Gilbert, CEO of Quicken Loans, suggests in the article below (Gilbert Weighs Launching '20 No-Fault Auto Insurance Ballot Question) that ANF should be subject to a ballot question.

Additionally, Attorney General Bill Schuette may come out in support of Mayor Duggan’s lawsuit against Auto No-Fault, which would result in him removing himself from the case. At this time, no final decision has been made by AG Schuette. However, his support for Mayor Duggan’s position on auto insurance has been noted, even going as far as stating that he is the Mayor’s “best hope.” (Click here to read the Crain’s article)

But as many legislators and leaders of involved groups note, Michigan’s auto insurance legislation is sufficiently complicated that a simplistic yes or no ballot vote wouldn’t address key issues. Gilbert himself agrees that a legislative solution is preferable, and CPAN President John Cornack reiterates that our Fair and Affordable Package is a realistic and thoughtful starting point for all parties to reach a legislative solution.

You can read Gilbert’s and others’ comments in the story below. BIAMI will continue to provide ANF updates monthly or more frequently as news breaks.

Gilbert Weighs Launching '20 No-Fault Auto Insurance Ballot Question

Asked if he's considering launching a petition drive to put initiative legislation on the 2020 ballot to reform no-fault auto insurance, Quicken Loans Chair Dan Gilbert told MIRS today, "Every option should be on the table to ensure we get the kind of reform that lowers rates and makes our cities and state more competitive."

"Michigan drivers pay the highest rates in the nation -- literally thousands of dollars more annually than across the border in Ohio, primarily, because Michigan is the only state in the nation where drivers are mandated to carry wasteful medical coverage on their auto insurance plan when they already are covered under their health insurance plan," he stated. "Additionally, the law also allows medical services and procedures to be billed at obscene rates when the medical coverage is being paid for by the auto insurance plans," he stated.

The idea drew a variety of reactions.

"We have gone down this path before with insurance-backed ballot initiatives back in 1992 and '94 which the voters resoundingly rejected," said John Cornack, President of the Coalition Protecting Auto No-Fault (CPAN).

Pete Kuhnmuench, executive director of the Insurance Alliance of Michigan, said he thinks it "demonstrates the frustration" people have with the lack of action on the part of the legislature. A ballot proposal would be "quite a large undertaking," but it would just be an up or down vote on whatever plan is submitted, he noted. "Hopefully, you get a better product through the legislative process," he said.

Rep. Lana Theis (R-Brighton), chair of the House Insurance Committee, agreed with Gilbert that every option "should be considered 'on the table,'" but she said she would prefer a legislative fix.

Gilbert indicated he would too, actually.

"Every day we wait is a day too long. There is an important election just weeks ahead, and we are hopeful that it will bring in leaders committed to delivering real reform and relief for all drivers in the state of Michigan," Gilbert said in his statement. "Next to auto insurance reform, there are few if any steps our leaders in Lansing could take that would have more of an immediate, positive impact on the pocketbooks of the majority of Michigan citizens."

But Theis noted that the insurance code is "many hundreds of pages long and extremely complicated," so she sees a reform by initiative as unlikely. "If this were going to be addressed at the ballot, it would likely ask for a yes or no vote on the full repeal of auto no-fault. Based on my discussions at the doors over the last few months, such a measure would pass," Theis said.

Cornack said CPAN already has a plan out there that would address the problem. "We have put forth a comprehensive and well thought-out reform package known as the Fair and Affordable Package that can, and should, be used for legislative reforms that are necessary to improve and reduce auto insurance premiums for Michigan drivers. This includes cost containment, effective rate regulation including use of non-driving rating factors and transparency of state's insurance industry and regulatory system," Cornack stated.

Kuhnmuench said he'd have to know what was in the proposal before he could say whether his Insurance Alliance would endorse it. But the keys points insurers want to see included in any reform is choice for drivers in the level of their PIP coverage, anti-fraud measures and a fee schedule for medical services. "Clearly, what we have on the books is a creature of the legislature and I think the legislature ought to fix it. In our view, we have a broken, outdated no-fault system. It was implemented by the legislature and it can be fixed by the legislature," he said.

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