The refunds are part of 2019 auto insurance reforms — negotiated between Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and the Republican-led Legislature — that to cut what had been the highest rates in the nation by ending mandatory lifetime coverage for auto crash victims and creating new fee limits for medical treatment.
Anita Fox, director of the state insurance office, said auto insurers must refund the $400 through a check or direct deposit — rather than applying it to customers as a credit.
Fox said she’s confident insurers will issue the refunds before their deadline.
“(The refund) process is huge,” Fox said. “There are 7.1 million drivers and (the state) doesn’t keep that information as per vehicle, your insurance company does. It takes a while to get the process set up and transfer billions of dollars.”
The process has been less than smooth for many, including Ron McDonagh, 62, of Burt.
He said he hasn’t received his check, and was informed by his insurer the $400 refund would be applied toward his upcoming policy premium which renews on April 28, in apparent conflict with the rules.
“I’m low-income and I need the money to get a colonoscopy because I have diverticulitis,” McDonagh said. “I owe (the hospital) $100 and they won’t schedule the operation until I pay it. So I could really use that $400 to take care of my medical needs.”
Fox urged eligible drivers like McDonagh who are encountering similar problems to contact the state at 833-ASK-DIFS.
Michigan has tried to keep the refund process as simple as possible, Fox said.
“This is their money that they paid into this fund,” Fox said, referring to motorists. “You shouldn’t have to fill anything out. You shouldn’t have to take it as a credit. It’s your money that ought to be returned and we know that’s important especially coming out of a pandemic.”
Fox also warned drivers to beware of potential fraud, such as scammers calling consumers to get private information.