Firefighters, police, tow truckers and drivers are helping to clear the cars that crashed in a multi-car accident in Muskegon, heading north-west of the United States. (Photo: JIMMIE PRESLEY)

Lansing – Michigan motorists are about to see their auto insurance bills go up when their suppliers' annual fee increases by $ 28 this summer.

The Michigan Catastrophic Claims Association announced Wednesday that annual fees would increase by 15%, from $ 192 to $ 220 as of July 1st.

State legislation requires auto insurance companies to pay the assessment to cover the cost of lifetime medical benefits guaranteed by the Michigan No-fault Automobile Insurance Act. Insurers usually pass these fees on to consumers.

The CACM operates as a reinsurance program, reimbursing auto insurance companies for costly medical claims for motorists who are catastrophically injured in a car accident. The claim threshold is also expected to increase from $ 550,000 to $ 580,000 this summer.

The expected tax hike – which has risen 76% from US $ 124.89 in 2009 – comes as Michigan lawmakers develop plans to reform no-fault car insurance and reduce rates that are set already among the most expensive in the country.

CACM officials testified before a Senate committee earlier this month, challenging anti-transparency accusations while claiming that "waste and fraud" in the medical system drive up insurance costs.

The private non-profit association, created by the Michigan legislature in 1978, but controlled by insurance companies, has assets of $ 20.6 billion but claims a long-term liability of $ 23.5 million. billions of dollars.

Annual fees are designed to cover the catastrophic losses of the current year, but also to gradually reduce the deficit by $ 2.9 billion over 15 years, said MCCA Executive Director Kevin Clinton.

In announcing Wednesday the expected increase of $ 28, the CACM said its costs were rising, in part because more people were receiving benefits and the cost of medical care continued to rise.

The association said it paid $ 1.2 billion in 2018 for claims resulting from catastrophic injuries. The majority of claims involve brain and spinal cord injuries, multiple fractures, and back and neck injuries. Most payments were for attendant care, prescriptions and hospitalizations.

The CACM is not subject to requests for public records that may provide further clarification on its fee calculation process, but annually publishes internal financial reports and independent auditors.

Insurance Alliance of Michigan, a coalition of insurers urging lawmakers to reconsider the state's mandate for lifelong medical benefits, said the upcoming CACM fee increase underscored the need for a reform.

"It is time for the Michigan legislature to see the no-fault insurance system of the state: an unsuccessful political experiment that forced the drivers of the Detroit metro to the west of the Upper Peninsula to choose between paying their car insurance premium or doing grocery shopping, "said the executive director. Tricia Kinley said in a statement.

"For some, it's like a second mortgage."

The Michigan-led Senate and House of Commons are developing proposals that should provide motorists with the "choice" to purchase reduced-coverage auto insurance policies.

Advocates of the no-fault auto insurance system in Michigan say the removal of the state's health insurance guarantee would put an end to an important safety net for some injured motorists and force more residents to go bankrupt. benefit from government health coverage.

Other reform ideas discussed for a long time include a fee schedule for medical providers that would cap the amount they are allowed to charge insurers for patients injured in car accidents.

Democrats also want to ban insurers from using non-determinants such as postal code or sex to set particularly high rates in urban areas like Detroit.

Lawmakers have been trying for years to reform the state's auto insurance laws, but efforts have been repeatedly hindered by intense lobbying from hospitals, the insurance industry and litigators.

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