Local lawmakers say a long overdue bi-partisan plan to overhaul Michigan’s auto insurance system has been reached.

Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer and Republican leaders reached a bipartisan agreement on legislation that they say will cut the state's high car insurance premiums. The House voted 94-15 in a rare Friday session to approve a 120-page bill that was said to be hastily drafted to enshrine a deal struck overnight. The Senate voted later in the day and the Governor is expected to sign the bill soon. The prospect of a ballot initiative on the issue was said to have played a role in moving along negotiations, because if successful it could have taken away the Governor’s veto power.

The deal removes a unique Michigan feature of providing unlimited lifetime medical coverage to anyone seriously injured in an auto accident. It also bans insurance companies from using non-driving factors such as sex, marital status, zip code, credit score, home ownership, education level and occupation as factors in setting rates. Some Democrats criticized that the provisions included in the bill are not enough to protect residents in urban areas from high rates, as insurers can still use “territory” when setting rates. Others felt the deal was rushed so lawmakers could pat themselves on the back during an upcoming conference on Mackinac Island next week.

All three Republican lawmakers from Livingston County voted for the deal. State Representative Hank Vaupel of Fowlerville says they worked hard on the bipartisan solution that gives Michigan drivers the choice they want and need for affordable car insurance. State Representative Ann Bollin of Brighton Township said she was proud to play a part in delivering the reforms to drivers in Livingston County and across Michigan – adding the changes will lower costs, crack down on fraud and provide more coverage choice. Senator Lana Theis of Brighton Township commented that she was pleased the governor has joined lawmakers in supporting long-overdue reforms to lower auto insurance costs for drivers. She says the plan will help ensure that drivers will be better able to afford the auto insurance they have and uninsured drivers will actually be able to afford to purchase auto insurance. (JM)