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Lawmakers Consider Changes To No-Fault Auto Insurance

LANSING (WWJ) - Michigan's no-fault auto insurance law are the subject of hearings that opened in the state capitol Tuesday.

The rising cost of health care is leading members of Michigan's insurance industry to push for changes in the state's no-fault auto insurance law that offers unlimited lifetime injury and rehabilitation benefits, according to Pete Kuhnmuench, executive director of the Insurance Institute of Michigan.

"We've recognized some real problems in our no-fault system, long term, that we'd like to address and that's the escalating cost that come with that unlimited lifetime medical benefit," Kuhnmuench said.

But, supporters of the law, like John Truscott, say changing it will leave many people out in the cold.

"We limit the amount of lawsuits. We limit the amount of harm and damage to the drivers and we provide probably one of the best rehab-type service facilities in full coverage for traumatic injuries of anywhere in the country," Truscott said. "For paying a few dollars more a year, you're getting the best coverage and the best protection of any state in the country."

Some emotional testimony Tuesday included that of Erica Nader Coulston from Southfield who was paralyzed in a car accident a decade ago. She said no fault insurance allowed her to receive the care she needed.

"I'm not 100 percent completely independent in my daily needs, but I am more independent that I was 10 years ago or even three years ago because I am able to continue with my rehabilitation," Coulston said.

Coulston owns Walk the Line to SCI Recovery, a rehab center in Southfield, which helps people regain mobility.  She said the insurance company claim that changing the No Fault Law would result in lower premiums is misleading.

"There is nothing in the bill that says insurance rates will go down," Coulston said, adding that without No Fault insurance, people who are badly injured in car accidents would be forced to rely on Medicare or Medicaid.

Under the two bill package before the House insurance committee, unlimited coverage would be replaced with a choice of coverage ranging from $250,000 to $5 million per person, per occurrence. It would also include a medical fee schedule as part of the effort to control medical costs.

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