In a letter to the editor (Oct. 6), the Michigan Chamber of Commerce’s Wendy Block places blame everywhere but on the insurers themselves for Michigan’s overly high auto insurance costs. While lawmakers should absolutely look for ways to stop fraud and contain medical costs, they also must call into question the role insurers themselves play in making premiums unaffordable to many, and painful for all, Michiganians.
It is the auto insurers who routinely and without merit raise prices for working people, those who live in poorer zip codes, women, widows and citizens with less than perfect credit records.
These factors have nothing to do with driving ability or the expense of repairing a vehicle, but are used as an excuse by insurers to unfairly charge higher rates.
It is the insurers whose standard practice of “delaying and denying” claims adds huge administrative costs to medical and rehabilitative providers, forces victims into bankruptcy, and leads to unnecessary lawsuits that no-fault originally intended to eliminate.
It is the insurers who too often force accident victims to see hand-picked doctors chosen by the insurance company and whose single role is to challenge and deny the treatment recommendations of independent expert medical professionals.
And it is the insurance industry-controlled Michigan Catastrophic Claims Association that by law gets to charge a fee on every insured vehicle in the state — this year $170 — with zero transparency or citizen input on how that rate is set.
Interestingly, too, although the state insurance commissioner is required to approve insurers’ requests for rate hikes, its current administration has never found a rate to be excessive, demanded premium rollbacks, denied MCCA requests for higher surcharges, or challenged insurers on their redlining and other discriminatory rating practices that disproportionately impact vulnerable populations.
Wrong on almost every count, the Michigan Chamber gets one thing right: Our auto insurance rates are truly out of line. But until the insurers themselves are forced to the bargaining table — along with doctors, hospitals, rehab facilities, attorneys, consumers and family caregivers — the problem will remain unaddressed and we’ll watch our premiums keep skyrocketing.
John Cornack, president and CEO