Adam Zemke's insurance heartbreak
"This is a cash grab, pure and simple," says state rep Adam Zemke.
Asked about his new job as Ann Arbor's Fifty-Fifth District representative in the house, Zemke replies, "It's very different being in Lansing and having a voice at the table and trying to shape policies before they get enacted into law. It's an amazing feeling, though it's heartbreaking on occasion."
Zemke's current heartbreak is Governor Snyder's proposed rewrite of the state's auto insurance system. "If it goes through, this will be one of the most impactful reforms of our lifetime," he says. "In Michigan, we currently have no-fault auto insurance with an unlimited cap on catastrophic care. The governor says it's too expensive, and legislation is being considered now that puts a very low cap on catastrophic care."
Noting that the state's auto insurance rates are the eighth highest in the nation, Snyder proposes limiting insurance payouts to $1 million. Accident victims whose care costs more will be turned over to Medicaid, which doesn't cover rehabilitation. Snyder says the change will cut premiums by an average $125 annually.
"The governor's cap is awful," says Zemke, "and it will have a huge impact on the quality of life of people who've been in catastrophic accidents. I have a friend whose daughter was in a car accident-it wasn't her fault-and now she is a quadriplegic. The cost for her treatment and rehabilitation has been $26 million so far, and she can almost walk again. But it's taken a lot of money to get to that point-money that won't be available if the legislation becomes law." (Snyder's office didn't respond to requests for comment.)
Insurance companies currently cover claims up to $500,000, with the rest covered by the Michigan Catastrophic Claims Association, a group funded by drivers through an annual fee on auto insurance policies; currently $175, the fee is slated to increase to $186 on July 1.
Zemke contends that the only people who would benefit from Snyder's proposal are the insurance companies. "The fund is managed by them, and they say it's unsustainable, but they won't provide the numbers to prove it. There's $15 billion in that fund, and we put the money in!"
[Originally published in July, 2013.]