Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer speaks after touring the Hope Network Neuro Rehabilitation campus Thursday, May 16, 2019, in East Lansing, Mich. The Democrat says she is open to letting drivers opt out of mandatory unlimited medical coverage in their auto insurance policies, but opposes a full opt-out option. (AP Photo/David Eggert)

Michigan's governor, lawmakers reach deal on auto insurance

May 24, 2019 - 9:17 am

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan's Democratic governor and Republican leaders announced Friday morning that they've reached an agreement on legislation to cut the country's highest insurance premiums.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said in a statement that the "agreement in concept" will "will lower costs and protect coverage for Michigan drivers." Details weren't immediately released, but she says the deal will cut rates for drivers and offer choices among coverage levels.

"The deal ... establishes more uniform and structured compensation levels for medical providers; and removes the ability of insurance companies to discriminate based on non-driving factors," she said.

Speaker of the House Lee Chatfield and Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey said in a statement that the wait now is over after decades of inaction in Michigan.

"Today's vote will be a significant victory for the hard-working people of Michigan that will finally fix our broken car insurance system and deliver real, meaningful rate relief for families, seniors and household budgets all over the state," they said.

The Legislature is convening for a rare Friday session, when a bill is scheduled for a vote. The measure previously drew a veto threat from Whitmer . Michigan is the only state to require that drivers buy unlimited personal injury protection, or PIP, benefits with their auto insurance policy.

PIP benefits on average make up half of auto premiums. Voters in 1992 and 1994 defeated insurance industry-backed ballot proposals to cap medical benefits.

The average premium in Michigan — which is $2,693, according to the most recent report from The Zebra, an insurance comparison website — is 83% higher than the national average of $1,470. Detroit's premium on average is $5,464, far surpassing any other U.S. city.

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan and others filed a lawsuit last year asking that the 1973 no-fault law be declared unconstitutional for failing to provide "fair and equitable" insurance rates. Duggan, a Democrat, said in a statement Friday that the agreement is "outstanding" and "will cut rates for Michigan drivers significantly."

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