LANSING – The Michigan Catastrophic Claims Association will issue $3 billion in auto insurance refunds — $400 per insured vehicle — to Michigan drivers, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and the Department of Insurance and Financial Services announced Tuesday.
Drivers are expected to receive checks in the second quarter of 2022, Whitmer said in a news release.
Insured motorcycles also are eligible for the full $400 refund, officials said.
Whitmer called for refunds on Nov. 1, saying the surplus in the Michigan Catastrophic Claims Association Fund had grown to $5 billion since she signed into law bipartisan auto insurance legislation in 2019 that was intended to lower premiums and give options of reduced medical coverage while significantly reducing medical fee schedules for long-term medical care.
The MCCA is a nonprofit corporation controlled by the insurance industry that manages a fund intended to pay for catastrophic care. The fund, with assets of more then $27 billion, was built with surcharges that used to be applied to the premiums of all insured vehicles in Michigan.
“These refunds and the recently announced statewide average rate reductions are lowering costs for every Michigan driver,” Whitmer said in the news release. “Michiganders have paid into the catastrophic care fund for decades, and I am pleased that the MCCA developed this plan so quickly after unanimously approving my request to return surplus funds to the pockets of Michiganders.”
Advocates for Michigan accident victims have criticized the refund plan, saying it will remove funds intended to pay for the care of catastrophically injured residents who are suffering under the new legislation. Republicans have accused Whitmer of playing politics with the issue. Refunds are expected to be issued months before the November vote in which Whitmer, a Democrat, is expected to seek reelection.
An analysis by the MCCA found that $3 billion of the current surplus could be returned to motorists “while ensuring continuity of care for auto accident survivors,” the release from Whitmer’s office said.
Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist said the refunds are a victory for all Michigan motorists, but particularly for motorists in Detroit, who “have paid the highest insurance rates in the nation for decades.”
In a Monday letter to the state insurance agency, MCCA Executive Director Kevin Clinton said all vehicles insured as of Oct. 31, 2021, will receive $400 refunds, with one exception: Vehicles with “historical vehicle” plates will receive refunds of $80, he said.
Eligible consumers do not need to take action to receive a refund. The surplus funds will be turned over by the MCCA to the insurance companies operating in Michigan by March 9, 2022, and the insurers will be responsible for issuing checks to eligible policy holders, the news release said.
The insurance premium surcharges that go to the MCCA are now only applied to the invoices of motorists who opt for unlimited catastrophic accident coverage.
Erin McDonough, executive director of the Insurance Alliance of Michigan, said her industry group strongly supports the refunds.
The group is “pleased the MCCA board landed on a refund amount that balances giving insured drivers back the money they deserve while protecting the longevity of a fund that pays for the cost of medical care for Michiganders seriously injured in car accidents,” McDonough said.
The refund is further evidence that the legislative changes of 2019 “are working and delivering real savings to drivers across the state,” she said.
This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Michigan motorists to get auto insurance refunds of $400 per vehicle