Car insurance refunds have been a key talking point for Governor Gretchen Whitmer this month — at events and following a campaign promoting them — as she seeks a second four-year term in office. November.
Here are some responses from Free Press Lansing bureau chief Paul Egan on the $400 refunds.
the Department of Insurance and Financial Services also offers its own Q&A.
Am I eligible for a refund?
To be eligible, residents must have an insured vehicle in Michigan as of October 31. The policy must meet the minimum insurance requirements to drive a vehicle on Michigan roads.
When does the money arrive?
Or as Whitmer might have said in his first campaign, when do I get my damn check?
This is really the question that everyone wants to know.
According to Whitmer, who hosted an event earlier this month in Detroit with Mayor Mike Duggan, some motorists in Michigan should have received it by now. But others may have to wait until May.
How will the money arrive?
Reimbursement — $400 for each qualifying insured vehicle — can come in the form of a check or automatic deposits from their insurance companies. Whitmer’s office said the deadline for auto insurers to send the money to policyholders is May 9.
Why May 9?
The Michigan Catastrophic Claims Association, an insurance industry-controlled fund, transferred $3 billion in excess funds to Michigan auto insurers earlier this month.
The money transfer triggered a 60-day deadline that requires auto insurers — not the state — to send required reimbursements of $400 per vehicle to eligible Michiganders by May 9.
The MCCA has more than $27 billion in assets, according to its latest financial statement, but holds a surplus, in part due to changes to auto insurance coverage under the 2019 law.
Is this the refund I saw on TV?
Yes. There was an advertising campaign on auto insurance reimbursements. It was funded by a pro-Whitmer group, Put Michigan First, affiliated with the Democratic Governors Association.
Why am I reimbursed?
Whitmer requested it in November.
“These $400 refunds are a game-changer for so many Michigan families,” she said in a press release earlier this month. “I requested these refunds because I am committed to reducing costs for the people of Michigan and putting money back in people’s pockets.”
The MCCA fund, which pays for catastrophic care and gets its money from a catastrophic loss surcharge that used to be added to all car insurance premiums. This fee, which was $220 per vehicle in 2019, has since been significantly reduced.
It is now only paid by motorists who opt for lifetime catastrophic loss cover.
Whitmer said the fund will continue to hold $2 billion in excess funds “to ensure continuity of care for survivors of catastrophic accidents.”
What are Whitmer’s other demands?
The governor also said the refunds: “are possible because we worked across the aisle to pass bipartisan auto insurance reform, and we will continue to work together to grow our economy and build a state where families can thrive.”
Is the timing ideal or suspect?
Detroit communications consultant Karen Dumas, who served as communications director for former Detroit Mayor Dave Bing, said the timing was perfect for Whitmer because “everyone is feeling the pain at the pump and the inflation “.
But Dumas also said refunds were “political or performative” and most residents weren’t considering other questions, including whether refunds should be bigger; whether they should have been sent directly to consumers rather than insurance companies; the impact of reduced coverage under Michigan’s 2019 changes to the No-Fault Automobile Insurance Act; and greatly reduced care for many accident victims who were catastrophically injured before the law was changed.
Detroit residents, she added, still pay high premiums compared to the rest of the state.
Kevin Rinke, a Republican gubernatorial candidate who was previously an investor in a company that worked with traumatic brain injury victims, called insurance reform “a bad agenda.”
A political rival, he accused Whitmer of using the refunds to bolster his re-election campaign by taking “credit for giving us back our own money” in the run-up to an election season.