In February of this year, I had written about Senate Bill 1014 which was the no-fault “deform” bill that the insurance industry tried to push into law during the last lame duck session. I advised that fortunately the bill was not passed into law. I also warned that it was expected that the insurance industry would ramp up their efforts to get a similar bill calling for no fault “deform” sometime in the months to come. Well, it didn’t take long.
House Bill 4024 has been introduced by House Representative Beau LaFave of District 108 which represents Delta, Dickinson and Menominee Counties in the Upper Peninsula.
This bill brings back the requirement that those insured under an auto policy choose from various options capping the amount of benefits payable for Michigan No Fault benefits. In this bill, insureds must select a cap of $250,000.00, a cap of $500,000.00 or they may elect to keep unlimited benefits as the law currently requires insurers to pay.
The bill also renews the efforts of past proposed no fault bills in seeking to pass one of the most discriminatory pieces of legislation toward motorcyclists that I have seen in my time. In this bill, the chosen cap applies not only to the person named in the policy, but to any other person with a right to claim personal protection insurance benefits under the policy. Why is that important? Because the first insurers in proper priority to pay an injured motorcyclists No Fault benefits are the auto insurer of the owner/registrant of the motor vehicle involved and the auto insurer of the operator of said motor vehicle. This means under the proposed bill, if a motorcyclist is hit by a motor vehicle, the motorcyclist will be subject to cap that the owner/registrant/operator of the motor vehicle has chosen for themselves! For example, if the owner/registrant/operator of the motor vehicle chose to cap his/her own benefits at $250,000.00 on their auto policy then the injured motorcyclist is bound by that cap too. In this bill, motorcyclists are discriminated against in that they are given absolutely no choice regarding the amount of no-fault benefits that they would be entitled to in the event of an accident. Instead, they are bound by the choice that the person insured under the applicable auto insurance policy chose for themselves. All things being equal, motorcyclists are much more apt to be significantly injured and incur more in medical expenses, attendant care and wage loss than someone inured in a standard auto accident. While a motorist may not choose to carry unlimited benefits on their auto policy, it is unjust to bind a motorcyclist to that decision when the motorcyclist may have opted for a higher cap or unlimited no fault benefits in the event they were in a serious motorcycle accident.
Further, under the bill, the Michigan Catastrophic Claims Association (MCCA) would have no liability for no fault claims made under an auto policy for which the $250,000.00 or $500,000.00 cap has been selected.
The bill also reprises the call of past proposed no fault bills for medical providers to accept worker’s compensation fee schedules for payment when treating no fault claimants. As many know, workers compensation usually pays far less than the entirety of the medical bills. I have said before, by applying workers compensation rates to the care of a No-Fault patient, it will effectively limit a No-Fault patient’s choices in medical providers. This is because many providers will decline treatment of a no-fault patient, just as many have done in the workers compensation arena, in fear of not being adequately compensated for the treatment.
Finally, despite the insurance industry “promising” a savings in auto insurance premiums if the proposed no fault “deform” goes through, this bill gives the insurer’s an “out” from having to provide such savings. First off, the “promised” savings is only a small percentage savings on the line item charge on the auto policy for no fault benefits, as opposed to a savings off of the bottom-line premium you pay for your insurance. Second, in this bill, if the insurers are unable to afford to offer the proposed rate reduction, they simply must provide a “detailed explanation” as to why they failed to afford same. There is absolutely no assurance of the savings that the insurance industry “promises” to provide.
Stay vigilant with your legislators on this bill as the fight continues.
As always, if anyone has any questions or if I can be of legal assistance to you or anyone you know dealing with this issue or who has been injured in a motorcycle accident, please don’t hesitate to contact me as I deal with these types of claims on a daily basis on behalf of injured motorcyclists statewide.
Further, if you would like to have me come out to your Region to speak or give a presentation on the legal rights of an injured motorcyclist or on any specific topic that your region may be curious about, please don’t hesitate to give me a call at (248-569-4646) or shoot me an e-mail at Dondi@buckfirelaw.com. I give presentations to Regions state-wide and there is never a charge associated with having me out. I enjoy having the opportunity to come out and meet motorcycle enthusiasts from all parts of our State!
Dondi Vesprini email@example.com
Phone: 248 569-4646
ABATE of Michigan Inc.
P.O. Box 99
Constantine, Mi. 49042
Phone: 269 435-2058
ABATE of Michigan
Fighting for the rights of all motorcyclists since 1976