We Can Do Better: Let’s Start Here

It’s no mystery to anyone in Michigan: Our auto insurance rates are predatory and unaffordable. We pay $2,600 annually — twice the national average, according to insurance search engine Zebra. For Detroiters — the average is $5,414. That’s unacceptable.

I’m 33-years-old and paying $7,500 a year for my auto insurance. In my neighborhood and ZIP code, the average annual rate is $5,000. My wife and I have three cars, nothing fancy, and two of which are more than 10 years old. If given the chance, we’d opt out of Personal Injury Protection (PIP) because it would save my family roughly $3,000 a year, and we have medical coverage like more than 90% of Michiganders thanks to Obamacare (also known as the Affordable Care Act).

Under the current system, many families in my neighborhood completely forego car insurance: They don’t drive legally, can’t afford new cars or the insurance, so they don’t buy it. Families are paying more to insure cars than they are worth.

Michiganders have had the same no-fault auto insurance system with astronomical rates my whole life. Over the past 10 years that I’ve been working in Lansing, every single elected member from Detroit or an urban community has said, “My number one priority is to get rid of redlining. It’s to change the gender gaps. It’s to make auto insurance more affordable.” This bill does all three.

Senate Bill 1 — the bill that passed the Michigan Senate this week — is a step in the right direction of trying to fix our auto insurance laws. While this legislation isn’t perfect by any means, it started the discussion and yielded a better bill in the House. This will lower our rates by including key details that make a difference, especially to Detroiters.

When former President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964, he knew it was because Congress had been fighting over civil rights laws for seven years. In fact, the first piece of civil rights legislation was passed in 1957 — and quite frankly, it was bad. Even President Johnson said it was terrible and the hardest bill he’s ever completed. Yet, he was proud of it because never, since Reconstruction, had anyone been able to successfully convince people who were flat-out racists to come onboard.

For that one moment, President Johnson was able to crack open the door of reform, and I believe this auto insurance legislation is our similar opportunity. This is the first chance for us to amend laws that have not changed in my lifetime, and that are overdue to be updated. Obamacare didn’t go far enough, but because of it, 1.2 million Michiganders have coverage they didn’t have before. This reform will ensure more drivers have auto coverage.

The auto insurance legislation being worked on in the House and Senate is the first step to relieve residents from criminally high bills. And believe me, if a better plan arises, I’m all for it.  Today, my job is to get a bill passed through two Republican chambers of the legislature and signed by my Democratic Governor.

Let me put it this way: When I ran for the Senate, I said we can do better and this plan is better than anything we’ve had up until now.

Sure, we can do better tomorrow, but for now, let’s step towards better and get this done.

– Adam Hollier, Michigan State Senator

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