Uninsured drive up ratesPublished 9:58pm Wednesday, February 29, 2012
There are more than 1.5 million drivers estimated to be on Michigan’s roads without insurance, according to a national study on uninsured drivers.
The 2011 Insurance Research Council report found that one in five or 19.5 percent of Michigan drivers are behind the wheel without insurance. The number of Michigan uninsured drivers is up from 13 percent in 1997.
“Law-abiding drivers are impacted by those on the roads without auto insurance,” said Pete Kuhnmuench, Executive Director of the Insurance Institute of Michigan (IIM). “The number of uninsured drivers is a problem that is growing in Michigan and is contributing to the rise in auto insurance costs.”
The average auto insurance premium in Michigan is $1,042, according to the most recent data (2009) from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners. That premium is the 11th highest in the country.
Michigan mandates that all drivers purchase the highest medical coverage in the country. Motorists here are required to purchase unlimited, lifetime medical benefits as part of their auto insurance policies. The average claim for that coverage rose 166 percent, from $13,617 in 2000 to $36,245 in 2010.
Driving without insurance in Michigan is a misdemeanor and punishable by up to a $500 fine and a year in jail.
Michigan drivers can purchase uninsured/underinsured motorists coverage that provides protection when they are involved in an accident with an uninsured or underinsured motorist. Uninsured drivers in Michigan cannot recover no-fault benefits. However, their passengers can.
“All Michigan consumers pay for the benefits provided to these uninsured motorists through a state fund created to pay for unlimited, lifetime medical costs of certain people injured by uninsured motorists,” Kuhnmuench said.