In mid-September, Representative Peter Lund, who is Chair of the House Insurance Committee, introduced House Bill 4936 which is a reform proposal being pushed by Michigan’s Auto Insurance Industry. This bill would effectively gut Michigan’s Auto No-Fault Insurance Act by limiting the amount of medical coverage we as driver's can obtain and leave many auto accident victims without the insurance needed to fund their care, treatment and rehabilitation in instances of catastrophic injury.
It’s not surprising that Representative Lund was the sponsor of the Bill as some of his largest campaign donors include Michigan Chamber of Commerce, Michigan Allstate Insurance Company Pac, The Michigan Insurance Coalition Pac, and the Michigan Association of Insurance Agents Pac. It is not surprising that the top business sector for donations to Representative Peter Lund would be finance, insurance and real estate, with the top industry being insurance. With the amount of money funneled into Representative Lund’s campaign coffers by the insurance industry, I can see why this Republican out of the 36th District is spearheading an auto insurance reform that will greatly benefit his insurance industry donors and greatly harm the his constituents and the citizens of this state.
But don’t take my word for it – that Representative Lund and HB4936 will harm Michigan driver's – click HERE for the story of Brittney Ruckle, a beautiful young girl here in Traverse City who would not have the medical care she needs if HB 4936 was enacted. It would be impossible for her mother Kris, a working single mom, to fund Brittney's lifetime medical care and rehabilitation if it were not for her No-Fault auto insurance. Because of her insurance, Brittney is getting the best shot at making a recovery from the brain injury that nearly killed her 5 years ago.
Following the car crash that injured Brittney, Kris has become a passionate advocate for her daughter and for the fight against auto no-fault reform and HB 4936.
In October 2011, our state representative, Wayne Schmidt, appeared on a local talk radio show to discuss his stance on the bill. At the time, he said he was still studying the legislation and hadn't decided how to vote, but Kris gave him this advice:
You never image it can happen to you or your child but it did to me on April 11, 2007!
My name is Kris Ruckle, parent of Brittney Ruckle, survivor of TBI incurred in auto accident in Traverse City.
• Recovery for children like Brittney is dependent on expensive services
• Payment for those services will be jeopardized if you weaken or replace our No Fault Insurance laws
• Consider the rights and needs of the insured, and not only the rights of the insurance industry. We lack fancy lobbyists, but we are your constituents!
• The current No Fault Laws in Michigan already favor the insurance companies and not people injured like Brittney. Do not weaken them further!
• Please protect those who do NOT know they will need these No Fault Benefits. Until you or a loved one needs protection it is your job as representatives of the People to ensure they are covered in a catastrophic event by their insurance companies.
Brittney is my 14 years old daughter. She requires 24 hour care 7 days a week which will not be possible with HB4936. The reasonable and necessary daily care consists of home health services, attendant care when I am not working, outpatient physical, occupational, aqua and music therapy, physical strength training along with social skill training. These are all mandatory for her continued recovery. Brittney may need this support for the rest of her life. If you introduce these changes, Brittney may be denied these critical services.
I urge you to keep the current No Fault Law and reject proposals to weaken it. In fact, I urge you to review and introduce legislation to make it better for injured families, and not for the insurance companies. By doing this you are protecting everyone as the insurance companies who are in business to insure the injured and pay claims when they are filed. The tax payers should not take this risk of uncovered medical benefits but the insurance companies who receive the premiums.
Thank you for your time and please put yourself in my family’s shoes for a while before considering weakening a law that is so important for so many. Vote No on HB4936!
Unfortunately, we won't get the chance to see how Representative Schmidt will vote on this auto insurance reform bill in the near future. According to Representative Mike Calton (R-Nashville), the bill will need some major revisions to make it off the House floor. He was quoted by Gongwer News Service as saying, "I don't know if it's officially dead, but I think it's barely breathing…. there wasn't a lot of support for it in the Legislature".
So what's next? It involves Governor Snyder, the Coalition for the Protection of Auto No-Fault [CPAN] and auto insurance company leaders. In my next series of articles, I'll try to lay out my understanding or where this auto insurance reform is going, why it's heading in that direction, why it is no good for Michigan and what you as constituents can do to stop it.
Mr. Smith has practiced as a trial attorney since graduating Notre Dame Law School in 1992. He has litigated cases across the country including cases from Ventura County, California to Middlesex County, New Jersey. He practices in both State and Federal courts.