Fact Checker. A Check of the Facts in the Michigan Automobile and Home Insurance Consumer Advocate Report to the Governor, 2009

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1 Fact Checker A Check of the Facts in the Michigan Automobile and Home Insurance Consumer Advocate Report to the Governor, 2009 Published by the Insurance Institute of Michigan 334 Townsend, Lansing, MI /

2 INTRODUCTION In February of 2008, Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm announced that she would create an Auto and Home Insurance Consumer Advocate position, which would be charged with representing the interests of auto and home insurance consumers. During the fall of 2008, the Advocate held hearings around the state to gather input from consumers, the insurance industry and others about the auto insurance system in Michigan. The Insurance Institute of Michigan participated in the public hearings, providing information about the costs that drive auto insurance premiums in Michigan. Michigan has a unique auto insurance system that mandates unlimited lifetime medical benefits. No other state comes close to mandating such a high level of medical benefits. Recently, the Advocate released a report to the Governor outlining 10 recommendations to improve the auto insurance system in Michigan. The Advocate contends that premiums charged for auto insurance in Michigan are not justified. The 10 recommendations the Advocate alleges will make rates more affordable include additional insurance company regulation and expanding the ability to sue for collision coverage. The Insurance Institute of Michigan encourages an open, responsible and legitimate debate on the costs of the current auto insurance system in Michigan. Any such discussion should be based on accurate information. Many of the statistics/comparisons used by the Advocate in his report are inaccurate. This Fact Checker document provides the reader with a list of those facts found to be erroneous and the sources to verify the Insurance Institute of Michigan s position. If you need further information, please contact the Insurance Institute of Michigan, 334 Townsend, Lansing, MI / More information on insurance is available at the IIM website,

3 ...at the same time profits have skyrocketed to their highest levels in US history...even factoring Insurance in the losses Institute from September Fact Checker 11, 2001 and on Hurricane Auto Insurance Katrina in Report Michigan s No Fault auto insurance law was declared unconstitutional by the State Supreme Court, in the famous 1978 case, Shavers v Attorney General. (Page 2 of Report) This statement conveniently ignores the fact that Michigan s Supreme Court in the original Shavers decision directed the state Legislature to correct the deficiencies of the new law. Following the enactment of the Essential Insurance Act (P.A. 145, 1979), the court then declined to continue to hold Michigan s no-fault law unconstitutional. Because there has been no further claim that this act, as recently amended, is unconstitutional, we decline to so hold, Shavers v Attorney General, February (We have attached a portion of the 1982 order. Attachment A)...the people of Michigan are paying among the highest insurance rates in America... (Letter to Governor and Page 7 of the Report) Michigan s average automobile premium in 2006 was $1, It is 12th highest in the country. There are 11 states with higher average auto insurance premiums than Michigan, with far less benefits. (Check it out for yourself. We have attached the 2006 average premium study by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners. Attachment B). Michigan s state-wide average annual premium of approximately $1,067 is just behind New Jersey s $1,100 rate: the nation s most expensive. (Letter to Governor and Page 7 of the Report) Michigan s average automobile premium in 2006 was $1, That was 12th highest in the country. Actually, New Jersey s average premium in 2006 was $1, and the highest premium was in the District of Columbia at $1, (We have attached the 2006 average premium study by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners. Attachment B). Page 3

4 Insurance Institute Fact Checker on Auto Insurance Report Since 1989, Michigan auto insurance premiums have increased at a staggering rate of 69 percent, the fastest rate of increase in the United States. (Governor Letter and Page 7 of the Report) Actually, from 1989 to 2006, Michigan s average premium increased 68.1 percent, or about 3 percent compounded per year. During that same period, Arkansas (84%), Delaware (72%), Florida (72%), Iowa (76%), Kansas (73%), Kentucky (85%), Louisiana (89%), Montana (91%), Nebraska (106%), North Dakota (87%), South Dakota (89%), Utah (72%), and West Virginia (87%) all had higher percentage increases. (See the actual documentation. We have attached 1989 and 2006 average premium studies by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners. Attachment B and C). The elective collision and comprehensive insurance coverages, together, comprise approximately 65 percent of the overall premium cost, by far the largest portion of the premium, while No Fault s mandatory health care coverage coverage adds up to a comparatively small percentage of the overall premium cost, approximately 15 percent. (Page 5 of the Report) According to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners Auto Database Report, 2005/2006, comprehensive and collision premiums totaled 53 percent of the total average premium in The coverages of Personal Injury Protection, Residual Liability and Property Damage coverages totaled 46 percent of the premium. The report does not list medical coverage separately. The Consumer Advocate s charge that collision represents the largest portion of the overall premium assumes that everyone buys the optional collision and comprehensive coverages. In fact, many people who have older cars do not purchase those optional coverages, which would result in the Personal Injury Protection (medical) coverage being the largest contributor to their overall premium. (We have attached the 2006 average premium study by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners. Attachment B). Page 4

5 Insurance Institute Fact Checker on Auto Insurance Report When the No Fault law was debated and passed, Michiganians were led to believe that this was a fair deal. But there was a twist. Rates did not go down. They went up. (Page 7 of the Report) Insurance companies did not make any specific promises with regard to rate levels with the implementation of Michigan s no-fault system. The Michigan no-fault law was unlike any other state because it mandated unlimited lifetime medical benefits. Even the politicians knew that rate decreases could not be guaranteed. Its benefits will exceed that of any other state. It s always possible a year from now or two years from now, based upon our own experience, that we may want to change it, but for now, I m satisfied this is a tremendous step forward. We do know that some policyholders will be paying less; we know that some will be paying more. We don t know where the average will be (but) it may perhaps be slightly more, Governor William Milliken quoted in Gongwer News Service, October 6, A young Representative from Beal City made the following comments on the House floor: The passage of Senate Bill 782 will raise the cost of automobile insurance for the majority of my constituents. The concept of no-fault is desirable and I have voted for that concept. However, the news media of this state have failed to present an accurate picture of what no-fault insurance means both in terms of coverage and cost to the public. Michigan s version of no-fault insurance will provide greater benefits and increased coverage. However, it will do so at an increased cost. This is because we have not yet discovered the magic formula which will allow us to give something for nothing. Representative and later Governor John Engler. A 1976 report released by the Insurance Bureau to the Governor, No- Fault Insurance After Three Years, outlined how rates were impacted by the implementation of no-fault. Fortunately, we have improved the auto insurance system without incurring the dramatic premium increases experienced in by other states. In spite of overall rampant inflation, Michigan insurance premiums remained virtually level from 1971 until Since 1975, rate increases have averaged about 25 to 30%. Those increases are substantially less than states with other no-fault systems and than states which still have the fault system. In addition, those increases are far less than the 91% increase in automobile crash parts, and than the overall increase of 49% in medical care costs, the main things for which auto insurance must pay, Thomas Jones, Commissioner of Insurance. (You guessed it, we have attached copies of Gongwer and the Commissioner s findings from the 1976 report as Attachment D and E). Page 5

6 Insurance Institute Fact Checker on Auto Insurance Report The down-ward trends in the auto insurance industry are reductions in claims filed by policyholders, and reductions in claims being paid out to policyholders by insurance companies. The upward trend is company profits. The past 10 years have been the most profitable period in U.S. history for property and casualty insurers. (Page 11 of the Report). The table used on page 11 of the report which show profits from uses national figures, not specific to Michigan. In fact, a report compiled by Wayne State University paid for and on behalf of the Michigan Office of Financial and Insurance Regulation in 2005 found different results. The Wayne State study concluded that from 1992 to 2002, the insurance industry in Michigan had not been profitable. The last decade has been an unusually unprofitable period for insurance companies in Michigan, with loss ratios above historical averages for the state and contemporaneous averages for the nation. Returns on net worth similarly have performed below national norms over the period. (The Competitiveness and Premium Excessiveness of the Home and Auto Insurance Industries In the State of Michigan, by Center for Urban Studies, Wayne State University and Michigan Office of Financial and Insurance Services, A copy of the page, of course, is attached. Attachment F. A full copy of the report can be found on the Michigan Office of Financial and Insurance Regulation website, The Angoff Study, cited above, is specific to Michigan insurance companies. It concluded that: for the three leading Michigan auto insurers State Farm, Allstate, and AAA both liability and physical damage coverage has been highly profitable over the last five years. (Page 11 of the Report) The Angoff study mentioned on page 11 of the Consumer Advocate s report found that the three leading Michigan auto insurance companies had been profitable in the liability and physical damage coverages, but the author admitted that the companies were not profitable in the medical coverage portion of the market. The above tables and charts appear to indicate, that based on the data the insurers have reported in their annual statements, over the most recent five year period, liability and physical damage has been highly profitable but no-fault insurance has not. (Page 14 and 15 of An Analysis of the Profitability and Performance of the Michigan Auto Insurance Market, No-fault insurance includes Personal Injury Protection (medical), Residual Bodily Injury (lawsuit) and Property Damage coverages. These are the coverages that are mandatory in Michigan. Yes, we have attached page 14 and 15 from the Angoff study. Attachment G). Page 6

7 Insurance Institute Fact Checker on Auto Insurance Report The Insurance Commissioner cannot deny a company s rate increase unless the Commissioner can prove the un-provable: that insurance companies are not competing against one another. (Page 12 of the Report) Each insurance company files its rates with the Commissioner of the Office of Financial and Insurance Regulation who has the ability to review those rates and reject them if they are found to be excessive, inadequate or unfairly discriminatory. A review of competition in the market does have to be conducted to declare rates excessive. However, the Commissioner can reject rates for being inadequate or unfairly discriminatory without first finding on the issue of competition. ( We have attached Section of the Michigan Insurance Code. Attachment H). For example, under Credit Scoring, a factory worker in Kent County who did not complete high school, will pay a premium rate that is two or three times more than a physician in Oakland County, with the same driving record. (Page 16 of the Report) In this example, the Consumer Advocate is alleging that the factory worker does not maintain good credit. A credit-based insurance score is not assessing the amount of income, but how a person manages that income. Therefore, a factory worker in Kent County may have the same or better credit-based insurance score as a doctor in Oakland County. Studies by independent organizations have concluded over and over again that credit-based insurance scoring does not discriminate based on income, race or gender. (A list of all the studies is attached. Attachment I) Page 7

8 Insurance Institute Fact Checker on Auto Insurance Report Michigan s expenditures for No Fault health care coverage ranks right in the middle of the national pack, 22nd out of the 50 states, overall (source: NAIC). And the annual assessment for catastrophic claims has held steady. Today s $104 assessment is the same today as it was 18 years ago. (Page 20 of the Report) It is not that easy. The National Association of Insurance Commissioners Auto Database study does not separate medical care from the liability coverage component of its study. The NAIC study includes medical care, bodily injury and property damage coverages and calls it Liability Coverage. While Michigan s medical component would be higher than other states, the residual bodily injury coverage (or lawsuit) costs would be less than tort states, resulting in a middle of the pack premium for the three coverages. (The NAIC average liability premium exhibit is attached. Attachment J). The MCCA assessment has fluctuated over the years. When the MCCA began, its assessment was artificially low and eventually that put the MCCA in a deficit situation. Each year they collect enough money to pay the lifetime claims of all the people who are catastrophically injured during that year and also add an amount to recoup part of the deficit. In 1992, $32 dollars of the assessment was deficit recoupment. In 2008, $8 was attributed to deficit recoupment. That means that 18 years ago, the actual assessment was $78. In 2008, the assessment was $96. The MCCA pays out $55 million per month for catastrophic claims. (Of course, we have attached a listing of the MCCA annual assessment since its inception as Attachment K). Insurance claims are down, in Michigan and nationwide. The fewer dollars paid out to cover claims, the more money insurers make. (Page 37 of the Report). Fewer claims do translate into a reduction in premiums. In fact, auto premiums in Michigan have declined the past few years. However, auto rates are impacted by many factors, including the costs to repair cars and homes, cost of medical care, and the cost of lawsuits. While the number of claims may be decreasing, the costs to pay those claims continue to rise dramatically. The report fails to mention how much the average claim increased from 1989 to During that time, the average Bodily Injury Liability (lawsuit) claim went from $17,332 to $33,977 (96% increase). The average Comprehensive (auto theft, glass breakage) claim went from $566 to $1,119 (97% increase). The average Collision (vehicle damage) claim went from $1,515 to $2,730 (80% increase). The average Personal Injury Protection (medical, wage loss) claim went from $7,457 to $26,269 (261% increase). (Fast Track Monitoring System. Attachment L). Page 8

9 Insurance Institute Fact Checker on Auto Insurance Report...in the 15 years since Proposition 103 went into effect, California s average annual premium rates decreased by 7%, while rates nationally have increased by 47%. By comparison, Michigan s rates have increased by 69% during that period of time. (Page 21 of the Report) From 1989 to 2006 (the same period used by the Consumer Advocate to come up with the 69% increase for Michigan), California s average premium has increased 11 percent (See attachments B and C). Proponents suggest it is because of the price controls; however, a report by Milliman, Inc, found that while proponents of government price controls have continued to insist that Proposition 103 was responsible for bringing down auto insurance premiums in California, we found that other factors related to reducing exorbitant liability costs and led to decreasing premiums. Contrary to the pro-consumer description of Proposition 103, consumers may actually suffer as a result of such regulation, because insurers are not able to quickly pass through cost increases or decreases. Consequently, firms will tend to withdraw from the market when costs go up, and consumers will pay more when the costs go down. It is interesting to note that the latest study on average premiums from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (2006) found that California s average premium increased 10 percent from 2002 to 2006, while Michigan s average premium increased only 4 percent during this same time. In fact, from 2005 to 2006, California s average premium increased 1 percent, while Michigan s average premium went down 2 percent. Also note, that Michigan s premium provides coverage for mandated lifetime, unlimited medical coverage. In California, drivers are not mandated to carry any medical coverage. (We have attached the most recent report from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners. Attachment B and C and the Milliman study as Attachment M).

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12 Attachment B

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14 Attachment C

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17 Attachment D

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19 Attachment E

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22 Attachment F

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24 Attachment G

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27 Attachment H

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29 Attachment I

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32 Attachment J

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35 Attachment K

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37 Attachment L

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39 Attachment M

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