COMMENTARY: Health insurance proving to not be goo enough for young drivers in Michigan


By Kevin Komar

In Michigan, drivers must purchase insurance to operate vehicles on public roadways. Until mid-2020, when a Michigan resident purchased auto insurance, they automatically were purchasing lifetime unlimited medical coverage for themselves and their resident family members in the event they were hurt in an auto accident. Starting in 2020, Michigan residents could begin purchasing varying levels of insurance protection for themselves with their auto insurance carriers. Depending on the situation, a Michigan resident can even choose to opt out completely of having medical coverage for themselves on their auto insurance policy. But having a choice is a good thing, right?

When it comes to medical coverage on auto insurance the best choice is maintaining unlimited medical coverage. Many question if is it worth it to pay a higher premium even if they have health insurance? The answer is “yes” and in many instances the premium is not that much higher.

As a lawyer who handles car accidents and claims for auto no-fault benefits, I am now witnessing the effects many people are experiencing due to their “choice” when deciding the level of medical coverage on their auto insurance policy. Let me provide two real-world scenarios I’ve already personally encountered due to a person choosing less than unlimited medical coverage.

In scenario number one, a drunk driver struck a young man on his way home from work. The victim suffered an injury that required surgery and a hospital stay. Before the accident, the victim had health insurance, so he opted out of buying medical coverage on his auto policy. However, when the accident occurred, he found nothing but red tape and denials from his health insurance carrier and a ridiculously high deductible. To date, his health insurance still has not paid a dime and continually gives one excuse after the next for the denials. His doctors are not getting paid so now he cannot get the therapy he needs for post-surgery. If he had purchased medical coverage through his auto plan, then these expenses would be paid, he would be getting treatment, and his credit would not be getting destroyed. Now he must chase the drunk driver through the court system in hopes that the drunk driver has sufficient auto coverage and that might take years to finally resolve. All the while, he is not working and probably will not be able to purchase a new vehicle with credit that is destroyed. By the way, the drunk driver never had to serve a day in jail.

In scenario number two, another victim of a distracted driver severely fractured her hand and suffered a fractured vertebrae in an accident. Before the accident, she opted to purchase $50,000 worth of medical coverage rather than unlimited medical on her auto policy. She has a state sponsored Medicaid plan, so she figured she was okay for coverage. The problem with that is the victim soon learned $50,000 does not go very far when she had to spend 5 days in the hospital undergoing numerous tests for a fractured vertebrae and ultimately having surgery with pins placed in her hand. She will require two more surgeries and therapy but her $50,000 in medical coverage is exhausted. But she has health insurance, right? The problem is the treating surgeon she likes is one of the best in the state. However, the surgeon is part of a practice that will not accept her health insurance. Now she must find a new surgeon for a very complex hand surgery. If she had at least purchased $250,000 for a few dollars more, then her medical care would have been surely taken care of. The distracted driver did not have any auto coverage.

The bottom line is that opting out of no-fault medical coverage or purchasing limited medical coverage is turning out to be a very risky situation for Michigan drivers. Health insurance carriers are not all created equal and as time goes on this situation will only get worse, it will lead to more lawsuits, and ruin more credit. The purpose of the no-fault act was to provide speedy coverage for those injured in auto accidents. Drivers are now in unprecedented times and facing greater complexities than ever before. As a Michigan car accident lawyer, I strongly encourage everyone to keep their unlimited medical coverage and budget to save money elsewhere.
Kevin Z. Komar is a member of the Sinas Dramis Law Firm personal injury team.