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Michigan contemplating no-fault auto insurance changes in 2014

Changes to Michigan's insurance laws could include implementing a fee schedule, capping the amount of coverage an injured person can receive at $1 million, reducing "attendant care" for family members and cracking down on insurance fraud.
 
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    January 23, 2014 /24-7PressRelease/ -- In an effort to reduce premiums and lower overall spending for medical costs after car accidents, Michigan lawmakers are discussing making several changes to the state's no fault auto insurance system.

These changes could include implementing a fee schedule, capping the amount of coverage an injured person can receive at $1 million, reducing "attendant care" for family members and cracking down on insurance fraud. Lawmakers in favor of the changes propose that these measures would not affect injured victims of car accidents but significantly reduce costs associated with auto insurance. Other lawmakers and advocates of injured victims remain unconvinced.

Currently there is unlimited coverage for medical care for people injured in car accidents. Family members of victims killed in an auto accident are able to receive attendant care so they can provide needed care for loved ones.

Heavy opposition to change

The Coalition Protecting Auto No-Fault group has argued that the suggested changes would hurt the quality of care for accident survivors and simply shift costs to healthcare insurers, taxpayers and hospitals. "It feels like this is the same set of changes that auto insurers have pursued for 20 years now," Laura Appel, vice president of the Michigan Health and Hospital Association, told MLive. Michigan's House Democratic Caucus unanimously opposed House Bill 4612 in 2013, which included the above "reforms" of auto insurance laws. Groups against reform have also noted that many car insurance providers are Fortune 500 companies and able to pocket any money made by high insurance premiums.

Exploring options

It is true that Michigan has high insurance rates, and is currently among the highest in the nation in car insurance prices. Proponents of capping benefits believe auto insurance could lower by an average of $250 per family in insurance costs should the change be made. However, for people catastrophically injured in accidents, $1 million in coverage may not pay for even basic costs. For example, the Detroit Free Press reported on the story of Arnie Grinblatt, a 2001 crash victim who needs a wheelchair and whose medical bills far exceeded $1 million after his crash. He told the Free Press that had he not received benefits after his accident he would have to have gone bankrupt and on Medicaid -- at the cost of Michigan taxpayers. "I'd be in a nursing home and vegetating," Grinblatt said. The Michigan Health and Hospital Association said that Medicaid doesn't provide rehabilitation costs, and as such injured victims would be "warehoused" and that Medicaid would end up paying for long-term nursing home care and other basic needs.

Long road ahead

The two sides are still far apart regarding auto insurance reform. Advocacy groups for auto insurance companies will continue to push for changes in auto insurance coverage in the state in 2014, and opponents will continue to fight changes they believe will negatively affect severely injured crash victims. Some areas of reform, such as fraud prevention, are more likely than others to receive bipartisan support. However, it remains to be seen what, if any, changes will be made to the state's car insurance laws in 2014.

Contact an attorney

Obtaining auto insurance benefits can be a complex, contentious and exhausting process for injured accident victims. People in Michigan who have been hurt in a car crash should contact an experienced personal injury attorney to ensure they receive the benefits they need for rehabilitation and other medical costs after an accident.

Article provided by Joseph T. Barberi, PC
Visit us at www.josephbarberi.com



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