Opinion: Lowering car insurance rates top priority

Lana Theis
Theis writes: "Senate Republicans are taking the lead on reducing insurance rates and ensuring accident victims have the medical care they need."

The astronomical cost of car insurance remains a problem in Michigan. Senate Republicans plan to change that. This week, we made that clear by introducing Senate Bill 1 — the first bill of the new legislative session — to make car insurance more affordable for drivers in our state.

Michiganians pay the highest auto insurance premiums in the country. In fact, rates are so high that thousands of residents can no longer afford to drive. Many thousands more risk driving without insurance. A system intended to help those in need is instead disproportionately harming those who can least afford it, and that is unconscionable.

Senate Bill 1 works to address the root causes of our unacceptably high rates.

First, the legislation seeks to give drivers over the age of 62 the choice of whether to carry personal injury protection (PIP) coverage on their policies. Instead, they could allow Medicare or their personal lifetime benefits to cover their medical needs, as is already the case in other states. Further, the bill aims to give younger motorists the ability to choose the amount of coverage that best fits their personal and financial needs.

Auto insurers — and ultimately Michigan drivers — pay significantly more to hospitals and other health care providers than do other insurers for the exact same treatments and services. To address this, Senate Bill 1 aims for greater transparency and equity in health care provider billing practices.

Fraud has also become a significant contributor to premium costs, while disputes between insurers, providers and other parties have clogged our court system. Our bill proposes to place restrictions on the shared ownership and referrals between entities that provide legal, medical and transportation services.

These reasonable reforms of our broken, outdated system will result in much-needed rate relief for Michigan drivers. Because while Michigan voters chose divided government in the 2018 election, they spoke with one voice in calling for an answer to this crisis. We are eager to work with our colleagues across the aisle, our new governor and all interested parties to find a solution to this problem that knows no political boundaries.

Senate Republicans are taking the lead on reducing insurance rates and ensuring accident victims have the medical care they need.

Sen. Lana Theis, R-Brighton, serves the residents of the 22nd Senate District, representing Livingston County and western Washtenaw County.