Auto insurance skyrockets

Marie Havenga • Jul 21, 2015 at 11:41 AM

Mike Wheeler, co-owner of the Oakes Agency, 234 Washington Ave., said it's a trend that shows no sign of slowing.

Michigan drivers pay about 50 percent more in average annual premiums than motorists in adjacent Ohio and Indiana.

The average Michigan premium is $1,042, compared to $695 in the Buckeye State and $710 in Hoosierville, according to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners.

And depending on which statistical formula is used from which agency, Michigan premiums rank from highest in the nation to as low as 11th overall.

A study released by CarInsuranceQuotes.com on July 30 states that Michigan residents pay more of their salaries toward auto insurance than any other state in the nation.

“There are a lot of reasons for auto rates being where they're at and where they're going,” Wheeler said. “One of the biggest factors is the unlimited medical benefits provided.”

Michigan is the only state in the nation with unlimited lifetime medical benefits. Once injury payments crest $500,000, the Michigan Catastrophic Claims Association kicks in to cover the rest. The insured pay an annual state-mandated charge for the catastrophic coverage – $175 per vehicle, up from $145 last year.

The annual catastrophic fee has increased 2,500 percent in the past 12 years, according to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners.

“We've seen a pretty steady increase,” Wheeler said. “Insurance companies don't see a cent of that money. They're obligated to collect that money and pass it on to the MCCA.”

According to the non-profit catastrophic claim association's website, the association has paid out $9 billion in 27,000 claims involving brain and spinal cord injuries. The statistics run from the association's inception through June 30, 2011. As of last year, there were 13,500 open claims for people being assisted.

To read more of this story, see Saturday’s print or e-edition of the Grand Haven Tribune.

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