No-Fault Supporters Blast Denial of FOIA Request > Michigan State Medical Society


No-Fault Supporters Blast Denial of FOIA Request

from Gongwer News Service
Capitol Record - June 11, 2013

No-Fault Supporters Blast Denial Of FOIA Request 

Officials with a group trying to block changes to Michigan's auto no-fault insurance law blasted a decision by the Department of Insurance and Financial Services to deny a request for information on how the Michigan Catastrophic Claims Association established its vehicle surcharge rate. 

In a letter to the Coalition Protecting Auto No-Fault, the freedom of information coordinator for the department said the information requested is specifically exempted from release by Michigan's Insurance Code. 

The department did provide the organization with a copy of an audit and actuarial report of the MCCA, which the letter said was the same materials provided to Rep. Pete Lund (R-Shelby Township). 

Mr. Lund is the sponsor of HB 4612*, which would change the current no-fault system to end life-time medical benefits for catastrophic accidents and institute instead a $1 million limit. While supporters have argued that would still be the highest benefits allowed by any no-fault system in the nation, critics have argued that limit would lead to families bankrupting themselves to pay for needed benefits. 

The request included the same documents CPAN has requested in a lawsuit against the MCCA. 

In fact, an official with CPAN said the group made the FOIA request when it was suggested by an insurance industry spokesperson the documents they sought were with the department. 

Last December, the Ingham Circuit Court held that the documents had to be made open. The MCCA has appealed the decision and the case is awaiting a hearing before the Court of Appeals. 

In a copy of a deposition related to the lawsuit, CPAN indicated the documents they sought in particular were the rate calculations to determine the vehicle surcharges the MCCA establishes each year and which are included in the automotive no-fault insurance billings. 

Critics of the current no-fault system have argued that auto insurance rates are so high in Michigan because of the unlimited, lifetime benefits. To help finance the system to pay for those benefits, the MCCA has assessed each vehicle $186 for the upcoming year. 

But John Cornack, president of CPAN, said the MCCA has nearly $15 billion in assets with no public oversight of the systems. 

Supporters of the MCCA have argued that all financial data that would establish the MCCA's condition is already available. 

Officials with CPAN said a possible appeal of the ruling was under consideration though the group was focusing more now on its Appeals case.

Posted in: Advocacy