Drivers who previously could have been put in a high-risk pool or denied coverage for not having insurance can avoid a penalty if they get insured by Dec. 31. (Shutterstock photo)

The City of Detroit is urging uninsured motorists to get coverage before the amnesty deadline. Under the state’s current auto insurance law, motorists can now choose between a variety of coverage options that previously weren’t available. 

After the law passed in 2019, motorists with health insurance that covers car accidents can typically save on their insurance premiums by opting out of personal injury protection (PIP). Or, drivers who want coverage for catastrophic accidents, can pay more for auto policies with unlimited medical benefits.

One piece of the state’s auto no-fault legislation is that drivers have an amnesty period during which they can remain uninsured without a penalty. But that period ends on Dec. 31. 

Mayor Mike Duggan said at a press conference Tuesday that one of the highest priorities with the no-fault insurance law was to get uninsured people affordable rates on car insurance. 

“More than 100,000 people in the last two years have gone and gotten car insurance that didn’t have it before,” Duggan claimed during the press conference. 

According to reports from BridgeMichigan, Detroiters pay some of the highest auto insurance rates in the country. Those rates are determined by several risk factors, including where you live. 

A report from The Zebra,  an insurance search engine, found that insurance rates dropped nearly 20 percent for Detroit motorists after the no-fault law went into effect in July 2020. The report also found that, despite that drop, Detroiters still pay an average of $5,072 per year, among the highest rates in the country. 

Duggan said the amnesty deadline is fast approaching. He said that he, other city officials and the media need to publicize the fine print of the “complicated” auto insurance law. 

“This is a provision everybody should be aware of,” he said. “If you’re thinking about getting car insurance, get it before Dec. 31 and there is a good chance your rate will be lower than if you wait.”

Anita Fox, director of the Michigan Department of Insurance and Financial Services (DIFS), echoed Duggan’s sentiments about waiting to get coverage. 

“If you wait, you’ll pay more,” Fox said at the news conference. 

Fox said getting auto insurance is important for Detroiters and everybody else. 

“The last thing you want to do is be in an accident and have no medical coverage for you or your family,” Fox said. 

Fox said she wants to make sure that everyone knows that this law gives a way out to drivers who previously could have been put in a high-risk pool or denied coverage for having a lapse in coverage. 

“If you get your coverage by the end of the day on Dec. 31, 2021, not only can you take advantage of the new choices under the law, the new rates where people are saving money, but you can avoid the penalties that might otherwise be associated,” she said. 

Laura Hall, the director of communications at DIFS, said it’s hard to compare Michigan’s auto insurance rates under the new law to other states because there are different coverage options in different states. 

We’ve maintained the highest benefits available in the country, while giving drivers new, lower cost coverage options so they can make the best choice for their family’s needs and budget,” Hall said in an email to BridgeDetroit. “We encourage drivers to shop around for savings, and talk to an insurer or insurance agent about how to lower the cost of their auto insurance.”

Bryce Huffman is a reporter for BridgeDetroit. He was formerly a reporter for Michigan Radio, and host of the podcast, Same Same Different.

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    1. You don’t have to apply. The amnesty is when you get your new policy. There isn’t a penalty or additional fee for not having insurance.

  1. there is no penalty for not having car insurance before the 31st. Think about it, I just bought a car on the 1st of the year…why would i get penalized. It doesn’t make any sense

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