Consider it a form of accident forgiveness – courtesy the state of Michigan.
If you hit a pothole or get T-boned by an inattentive driver, your insurance rates will not automatically go up.
That’s the upshot of a House bill introduced Thursday. It prohibits insurance companies from increasing rates when the insured driver is not at fault.
“I can’t tell you how many constituents I’ve heard from about rates going up because they hit a pothole,’’ said state Rep. Patrick Green, who introduced HB 5699 on Thursday. “My son works at a Discount Tire; they were lined up 20 deep.’’
Green’s bill comes the same week Michigan roads were given a D-minus rating by the American Society of Civil Engineers Michigan Section.
Green, D-Warren, says the timing is simply a coincidence.
“If I hit a pothole that isn’t being filled, it can be a bent rim or a busted tie rod,’’ he said. “It might cost a thousand dollars or more to fix and I’m going to get debited by the insurance company? That’s not fair.’’
Too many drivers involved in accidents that are not their fault are unfairly penalized by hikes in collision and comprehensive coverage, Green said.
The practice grabbed headlines last year when a report by the Consumer Federation of America revealed that safe drivers involved in accidents caused by others often see auto insurance rate hikes.
Among the cities tested, drivers in New York City and Baltimore pay out the most, while drivers in Chicago and Kansas City faced average increases of 10 percent or more, the study found.
“Innocent drivers who don’t cause accidents should not be charged more because someone else hits them,’’ J. Robert Hunter, the group’s director of insurance, said at the time.
The Consumer Federation of America called on lawmakers around the country to “prohibit such penalties on innocent drivers.’’
The CFA said at least two states – California and Oklahoma - already prohibit such penalties.
Green said he wants to see Michigan join the fold.
“I’m already paying for the potential of an accident by paying my premium,’’ he said. “If something does happen through no fault of my own, I shouldn’t have to pay more.’’
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