New Research Shows Drivers Are Paying Higher Premiums Today Than Before Auto Insurance Reform Was Enacted; Savings Appear to Be a Mirage
Citizens Insurance policyholders paying the company on average $90 more, although many have seen benefits significantly reduced
LANSING, Mich.—(March 23, 2022)—While Michigan’s auto insurance lobby has alleged that drivers are seeing significant savings due to 2019’s auto insurance reform package, new research released today by CPAN shows that customers of Citizens Insurance—one of the largest auto insurance companies in the state—are paying the insurer more now than they were before the new law was passed.
The research was conducted by Douglas Heller, a national insurance expert and consultant to CPAN. Heller is Director of Insurance at the Consumer Federation of America.
“It has been a great two years for auto insurance companies in Michigan—not so much for consumers,” Heller said. “Despite claims of savings for Michigan drivers, insurance companies like Citizens are charging them more on average than they were before the new auto insurance law was passed. Many are paying more for far less coverage than prior to the 2019 reforms. In addition, persistent discrimination against drivers in communities like Detroit mean that those who need low-cost options the most end up paying more than wealthy drivers who purchase full unlimited benefits. The big savings for drivers promised by lawmakers and the auto insurance lobby appear to be a mirage.”
By analyzing public documents filed by Citizens, Heller found that:
- On average, Citizens customers are paying the company $90 more for their combined auto insurance coverages now than before reform was passed, despite many of them having significantly fewer benefits should they get into a catastrophic crash.
- Discriminatory pricing persists: The rate charged to a Citizens customer of the 48215 ZIP code in Detroit purchasing only $50,000 in Personal Injury Protection benefits is $1,564 more than the rate charged to a resident of the 48085 ZIP code in Troy buying unlimited/lifetime PIP.
- Citizens Insurance saw a 24% increase in annual operating profit in 2020-2021 compared to 2017-2019, due in part to the 45% cut in care passed as part of auto insurance reform, as well as fewer claims during the pandemic.
- Citizens raised rates on January 1, 2022 rather than lowering them, despite huge profits and the persistent impact of pandemic.
- Michigan policyholders were overcharged by $1.2 billion in 2020, as miles driven, vehicle crashes and auto insurance claims dropped because of the pandemic.
CPAN President Devin Hutchings called on the Legislature to revisit the law in light of hard data showing its ineffectiveness.
“It’s time to tell the truth—auto insurance reform has been an unmitigated disaster,” he said. “It has stripped benefits for survivors of catastrophic accidents, put quality health care providers out of business, left patients without access to needed care, and allowed for continued redlining and other discriminatory practices while insurance companies rake in record profits. To top it off, our premiums are going up, rather than down.”
“Acceptance is the first step toward positive change,” Hutchings added. “Lawmakers need to stop playing political games and acknowledge that more work is needed to end redlining, protect vulnerable crash survivors, and lower premiums for drivers across the state.”
Heller’s research backs up findings from The Zebra’s 2022 State of Auto Insurance report, which found that Michigan still has the second highest premiums in the nation, while Detroit remains the most expensive city in the country for auto insurance. Dearborn and River Rogue also make the top 10.
As consumers continue to feel pain in the pocketbook, the 45% cut in catastrophic care passed as part of auto insurance reform has proved to be devastating—and in some cases, deadly—for survivors of serious car crashes. According to a recent report from the nonprofit health organization MPHI, as of October 20, 2021, 1,548 no-fault patients have been discharged by their previous providers and 3,049 Michigan jobs have been eliminated since the 45% cut went into effect in July 2021. Meanwhile, 140 organizations reported having to significantly reduce services, 96 organizations can’t accept new patients with no-fault insurance funding, and 21 organizations have had to cease operating completely, devastating Michigan’s system of post-acute care and overburdening a health care system already strained due to the pandemic.
CPAN is a broad bipartisan, Michigan-based coalition whose mission is to be the consumer advocate for auto insurance policyholders, those who have been injured in a motor vehicle crash and the medical providers caring for them, representing them at the Capitol, in the courts, and in the public forum. For more information, please visit www.CPAN.us.