Michigan House passes auto insurance reform bill in the middle of the night

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Lansing, MICHIGAN (WJRT) - (05/09/2019) - They were burning the midnight oil in Lansing where Michigan's Republican-led House passed a major car insurance reform bill at 2:10 Thursday morning, voting 61-to-49 in favor of the bill.

Lawmakers did not get to see the new 82-page plan until after seven o'clock Wednesday night.

The House version, unlike the Senate's passed on Tuesday, includes guaranteed rate rollbacks, and the option to maintain unlimited medical coverage.

Similar to the Senate version, it eliminates the requirement drivers have to buy unlimited medical coverage from their car insurer for crash injuries.

House Speaker Lee Chatfield said this plan will provide the appropriate choice and care:

"Those who are covered now under the MCCA would continue receiving that care, it's important we proivde an unlimited option which we have done in our bill," Chatfield said.

"We pay the highest car insurance rates in the nation - people are fed up , and it's time we deliver them relief by giving them a choice," he added.

Governor Whitmer threatened to veto the Senate plan, saying it would not guarantee cuts or address discriminatory rate-setting practices.

While the House version says an insurer cannot refuse to insure or limit coverage based on location, it does not address the practice of increasing premiums.

An amendment to the House version of the bill would leave it up to the Whitmer administration to assess ratings factors in regards to risk.

Democratic Representative Jon Hoadley blasted the timing of the 11th hour vote:

"If we had a real bill," Hoadley said, "we wouldn't be apssing it in the middle of the night. If the Republicans were ready to offer a real set of reforms, they would be walking this around the state, not springing it on us in the last moment."

Hoadley was also critical of guaranteed rate rollbacks:

"What they're talking about is a short-term potential rollback back on a small portion of your bill, but they're still allowed to then increase the rest of your premium, so if you're paying a little less on one half, and a lot more on the other, your auto insurance rates won't go down."

Republican Representative Ben Frederick said he thinks the rollback is quite sound:

"It will not allow any type of appeal on the part of insurers, they will comply with the rates that are guaranteed.," he said. "five years will be guaranteed to drivers."

After that, Republicans say a "file and approve" system will kick in that they believe will empower regulators to keep rates low.