With nearly 20% of the state’s drivers not carrying valid car insurance, Michigan has one of the highest rates of uninsured drivers in the nation according to the Insurance Research Council. Yet, in a curious legislative move, the State Senate has voted 38 -0 to roll back financial responsibility fees for drivers caught without driver’s licenses or proper car insurance coverage:
Sponsored by Sen. Bruce Caswell, R-Hillsdale, the measure would eliminate responsibility fees for motorists caught driving without insurance or a valid license, and those who have accumulated seven or more points on their driving record for offenses like speeding that don’t incur responsibility fees of their own.
Under current law, a motorist with seven points within two years is assessed a $100 fee with $50 for every point above that. Having no proof of insurance costs $400 over two years, unless the motorist can provide proof before the court date. Failure to purchase insurance under the insurance code merits $1,000 in fees over two years.
With Michigan having such a large number of uninsured drivers, coupled with the lack of availability of affordable car insurance in the state, it seems almost backwards that surcharges for being caught driving without insurance would be eliminated. This disincentive for carrying proper car insurance doesn’t appear to make sense on a whole lot of levels.
In study after study, it’s clear that when there’s no path toward affordable, cheap car insurance in a state like Michigan, more drivers will choose to take their chances and drive uninsured. And, every motorist in states that have a high uninsured driver rate pay more for car insurance. It’s a no win situation.
What does make sense is for law makers to craft legislation overhauling auto insurance requirements to make Michigan car insurance more affordable to the average driver. Other states are actually increasing fees and fines for driving without mandated auto insurance coverage.
Is removing a legal incentive to get (or remain) properly insured really the right message to send to uninsured drivers?