Choice saves drivers money on car insurance

LANSING — I have walked through nearly every neighborhood in Delta, Dickinson and Menominee counties, getting to know the people I represent in the state Legislature.

Far too many homes have vehicles with Wisconsin license plates parked in the driveway. When I ask why, I always get the same answer: Michigan’s car insurance rates — the highest in the nation — are simply unaffordable. Sadly, many residents are buying cheaper car insurance and getting vehicles registered in neighboring states, or not buying any auto insurance at all.

My top priority as a state representative is making car insurance more affordable for the western U.P. and all of Michigan. At long last, a serious proposal to do just that is under consideration in the House.

The proposal would end Michigan’s status as the only state requiring drivers to buy unlimited lifetime health care coverage through their auto insurance — even if they don’t want it and most likely will never use it.

People already using the catastrophic coverage would keep it, and any driver who wanted to continue buying it in the future could do so. But two more affordable options — personal injury protection coverage set at $500,000 and $250,000 — also would be available. My hope is these less costly options would end the days of forcing families to choose between buying groceries, heating their homes or following Michigan law and purchasing car insurance.

Forty-nine other states allow some sort of choice. Michigan should too.

This proposal also is a much-deserved win for senior citizens who already have Medicare or a similar type of health care coverage in retirement. They would not be required to have PIP coverage at all, ending what amounts to forced double payment under Michigan’s current setup and saving them hundreds or thousands of dollars.

This bipartisan plan also will rein in medical costs. It would stop the ridiculous practice of charging three or four times more to treat auto accident victims than other patients with the exact same injuries.

Another way the plan lowers costs is by fighting fraud and cutting down on the insane number of auto accident lawsuits flooding our courts.

Lobbyists and special interests who want to keep the status quo are fear-mongering about this proposal, saying people will be dying in the streets and won’t be able to get treatment after auto accidents.

But that does not happen in Wisconsin. It does not happen in Ohio. It does not happen in any state, and it wouldn’t happen in Michigan either.

What would happen? A lot of lobbyists and special interests wouldn’t make as much money as they do now. And I’m fine with that, because Michigan drivers will save a lot of money.

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Rep. Beau LaFave represents Delta, Dickinson and Menominee counties in the Michigan House. He is a member of the House Insurance Committee.


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