Nov 10, 2009

The fight for fair auto insurance rates is taken up by the people

All too often, Michigan residents have to go around the obstructionist Michigan Senate to get good legislation passed, and that is the case with legislation dealing the high cost of insurance redlining.

The Michigan Board of Canvassers approved ballot language on Monday for a petition brought forward by the group Fair Affordable Insurance Rates (FAIR) that will require insurance companies to base the rate they charge you for insurance on the type of car you own and your driving record, not where you live, your credit history, education level and the type of job you have.

Consumers in Michigan pay the 12th highest auto insurances rates in the nation, but the problem in Detroit is even more acute. Drivers in Detroit pay an average of more than $5,000 a year, yet the national average annual car insurance rate is only $949.

Predictably, insurance industry representatives oppose the initiative, and they are making the usual false and hysterical claim that it will put them out of business.

Sen. Martha G. Scott, D-Highland Park, has been championing this issue for almost seven years, and in a cynical attempt to kill the bill last month, the Senate discharged it from committee without a single hearing and no notice. This Senate’s steadfast inability to act appears to have promoted the petition drive.

The also played the old standby game of pitting Detroit against the rest of the state and the suburbs, making the false claim that if Detroit drivers have to pay less, then the rest of the state will have to pay more.

The petition would require 304,000 signatures before it can go before the Legislature, which would then have 40 days to take action if approved. If they do not or disapprove of the petition, it would be added to the Nov. 2, 2010 ballot.

According to the Detroit News, Kim Bowman, the Chief of Staff for Sen. Hansen Clarke, D-Detroit, who is backing the proposal, said she did not know when the petition drive will start. State law says the language is good for 180 days, and there can be no more than 90 days between the first and last signature.

Let’s do this for Sen. Martha Scott.

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