UPDATE: Michigan Senate approves plan to cut car insurance rates

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UPDATE: The Michigan Senate approves plan to cut car insurance rates by eliminating a requirement that drivers buy unlimited medical benefits to cover crash injuries.

The legislation passed Tuesday and aims to cut the country’s highest average auto insurance premiums.

No other state requires drivers to buy unlimited medical benefits, but instead provide a choice of lower levels of personal injury protection as well as no coverage with qualifying health insurance.

The measure was approved on a 24-14 vote, mainly split along party-lines. Although it gained the support from the GOP-led House, Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s approval is far less clear.

“Thousands of Michiganders have been priced out of driving, and thousands more risk driving without insurance,” said Republican Sen. Aric Nesbitt of Lawton.

The Senate plan faced Democratic criticism because it would not include a mandated rate rollback.

“I don’t think anybody in the state benefits if we reduce the coverage and your costs stay the same, especially for such a drastic reduction” in PIP coverage, said Sen. Mallory McMorrow of Royal Oak.

Under the bill, drivers could opt out of personal injury coverage or choose between at least two required offerings from insurers.

ORIGINAL STORY: Lawmakers are taking aim at high car insurance premiums by unveiling a plan that would no longer make Michigan the only state to require drivers to buy unlimited medical benefits through their auto insurer.

The bills are expected to win approval from the Republican-controlled Senate on Tuesday.

The measures would let drivers purchase no personal injury protection coverage if they have other qualifying health insurance. The legislation also would curb medical providers’ ability to bill car insurers much more for care than health insurers pay.

Efforts to change the no-fault auto insurance system have failed in the past. But Republican Sen. Aric Nesbitt says Michigan’s highest-in-the-country premiums must be reined in because people can’t afford to drive or are being forced to drive illegally without insurance.

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