Whitmer’s Car Insurance Reforms Protect Michiganders From Rising Premiums

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer speaks before signing auto insurance legislation on May 30, 2019. (AP Photo/David Eggert, File)

By Kyle Kaminski

September 13, 2023

Reports show most Americans are paying significantly higher rates to insure their vehicles this year—but not if they live in Michigan. 

MICHIGAN—New statistics show that average monthly automotive insurance bills in Michigan have dropped faster than those in just about every state in the country over the last decade.

And while much of the country has struggled with steadily soaring auto insurance costs, Michigan drivers have been largely immune to the financial squeeze over the past few years—largely because of legislation that Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed in 2019.

The latest annual State Insurance Report from FINN shows most Michiganders are paying $2,133 this year to insure their vehicles—down about 15% from $2,520 reported in 2013. That marked the third-biggest decrease in the nation, behind only Georgia (24%) and Hawaii (17%).

Meanwhile, much of the country has moved in the opposite direction. Average premiums for US drivers in July 2023 were 16% more expensive than rates tracked in July 2022, and 70% more expensive than 2013, according to a report published this month in the Washington Post.

The FINN report notes that Michiganders aren’t seeing the same increases because of state legislation signed by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer in 2019 that amended automotive insurance laws, and subsequently limited the circumstances in which drivers can sue each other for damages.

“This lack of litigation dropped premium prices,” the report states.

In 2019, Michigan drivers reportedly paid the highest annual auto insurance rates in the nation—primarily because under state law, drivers needed to have insurance plans that included unlimited personal injury protection (or PIP) coverage. Reforms passed by the Legislature that year enabled Michigan drivers to choose a lower level of PIP coverage or opt out altogether.

At the time, Whitmer (and Democratic lawmakers) championed the changes as a way to help curb costs for Michiganders. And according to the FINN report, the legislation has done its job—making Michigan one of only a few states where insurance rates have actually declined.

State officials said the legislation also requires insurance companies to reduce premiums for eight years, and no longer use certain factors unrelated to driving as a reason to set new rates. The law also resulted in a huge surplus for the Michigan Catastrophic Claims Association’s catastrophic fund. Roughly 60% of this surplus was transferred to insurers, who were required to use them to issue refunds of up to $400 per vehicle to all drivers in the state last year.

“Michigan drivers called for relief from high auto insurance rates for decades, and I am pleased that this bipartisan legislation has resulted in savings, increased consumer protections, and more consumer choices than ever before,” Whitmer said in a statement last year.

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Author

  • Kyle Kaminski

    Kyle Kaminski is an award-winning investigative journalist with more than a decade of experience covering news across Michigan. Prior to joining The ‘Gander, Kyle worked as the managing editor at City Pulse in Lansing and as a reporter for the Traverse City Record-Eagle.

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