Rising Auto Insurance Costs in 2024: Expert Insights from Christensen Law

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The background of the image consists of several overlapping U.S. one-dollar bills. The foreground features bold text that reads "RISING AUTO INSURANCE." The word "RISING" is highlighted in red, with a rising graph icon next to it, symbolizing an increase in costs. The rest of the text, "AUTO INSURANCE," is in black with a white outline, contrasting sharply against the dollar bill background.

Blindsided by High Insurance Prices? You’re Not Alone.

In 2024, U.S. auto insurance customers are feeling the financial pinch like never before. According to a report from Bankrate, the average cost of full coverage car insurance has soared to $2,543, marking a staggering 26% increase from the previous year. Additionally, the J.D. Power 2024 U.S. Insurance Shopping Study found that this surge in premiums, coupled with lukewarm customer satisfaction scores, has driven nearly half (49%) of policyholders to shop for new insurance plans. Among them, 29% have already switched carriers, with Gen Z leading the charge in this wave of change.

To understand the full impact of these rising costs, consider the national median household income of $74,580, as reported by the U.S. Census Bureau. On average, Americans now spend 3.41% of their income on car insurance, a significant financial burden.

This increase in premiums isn’t just a number on a bill; it’s a real hit to the wallets of families across the country, affecting their ability to manage other essential expenses.

A Closer Look: Michigan’s Auto Insurance Requirements

To illustrate the broader issues, let’s examine the auto insurance landscape in Michigan, where we have unique insurance requirements and challenges. Michigan’s No-Fault insurance system, controversially overhauled in 2019, mandates that insurers cover various costs of accident-related injury, treatment, and recovery, including medical expenses, time-limited wage loss benefits, replacement services, home modifications, survivor’s loss benefits, etc.

Michigan’s minimum insurance requirements include:

  • $50,000 per person and $100,000 per accident for bodily injury (BI)
  • $10,000 for property damage (PD) per accident
  • Property protection insurance, covering up to $1 million for damage to property (PPI)
  • Personal injury protection (PIP), which reimburses medical expenses, wage loss, and other costs for injured parties (PIP)

The statutory minimum for bodily injury (BI) coverage, mandated by law, is set at $250,000. However, individuals do have the option to opt for lower coverage limits if they choose to do so. This flexibility allows policyholders to select BI coverage as low as $50,000, depending on their financial circumstances and risk tolerance. Opting for lower coverage limits may reduce monthly premiums, making insurance more affordable in the short term. However, it also means assuming greater personal financial responsibility in the event of an accident where higher costs exceed the coverage limit.

The REAL Cost of Unlimited PIP

Car accidents are unpredictable events that can alter the course of your life in an instant. Whether it’s a minor fender-bender or a major collision, the consequences can be profound—physically, emotionally, and financially. That’s why having unlimited (or “no-limit”) personal injury protection (PIP) on your auto insurance is crucial. PIP covers reasonable and necessary medical expenses for you and your passengers in the event of an accident, regardless of fault.

Michigan PIP insurance allows drivers to select from among several medical coverage levels or lifetime “caps” on the amount of coverage they wish to purchase for car accident-related medical expenses should they ever be injured in a crash.

The medical coverage levels available include:

  • $50,000 cap on medical expenses for drivers covered by Medicaid (with conditions)
  • $250,000 cap on medical expenses
  • $500,000 cap on medical expenses
  • Unlimited medical coverage

These caps on medical coverage under Michigan PIP insurance reflect the maximum amounts that auto insurance companies will pay for an accident victim’s crash-related medical care, treatment, and expenses.

When looking to reduce your car insurance cost, adjusting your level of Personal Injury Protection may not be the wisest choice to save money, and here’s why:

Medical Expenses Coverage

PIP typically covers medical bills resulting from an accident, including hospitalization, surgery, rehabilitation, and home modifications. If you reduce this coverage and get into an accident where you or your passengers sustain serious injuries, you may end up being liable for substantial medical bills. This can far outweigh any savings you might achieve on your premiums.

Comprehensive Protection

PIP not only covers medical expenses but also extends to other costs such as funeral expenses in case of a fatality, and even essential services like housekeeping and personal care if you’re unable to perform them due to injuries. These benefits provide a comprehensive safety net that might be crucial in unforeseen circumstances.

Long-Term Financial Security

While reducing PIP coverage might save a relatively small amount of money in the short term, the financial repercussions of inadequate coverage in a serious accident can be severe. It’s crucial to balance cost-cutting measures with maintaining sufficient coverage to protect your financial stability in the long term.

Michigan does allow you to “opt-out” of PIP at specified levels, but other conditions must be met, including proof of other insurance coverage. For most people, we do not recommend opting out, as it offers substantial protection. PIP coverage goes above and beyond compared to regular health insurance plans when you’re dealing with the fallout from an accident. It’s like having a superhero backup for when life throws unexpected curveballs your way. PIP doesn’t just cover your basic medical expenses like doctor visits and hospital bills after an accident. It kicks in to handle all sorts of costs that might pop up—such as lost wages if you can’t work, childcare expenses if you need help with the kids while you recover, even services you might need around the house if you’re laid up.

PIP is like having a safety net that catches a lot more than just medical bills.

Other Michigan Insurance Requirements

You must also carry PPI – Property Protection Insurance. No-Fault will pay up to $1 million for damages your car does to other people’s property, such as buildings, trees, fences, equipment, road signs, or a legally parked vehicle. It does not pay for damage to cars involved in a collision.

Residual Liability Insurance (Bodily Injury and Property Damage) – No-Fault protects insured persons from being sued as the result of an automobile accident, except in certain situations. This includes when the injured party does not have enough coverage to pay for treatment or payment must be made to compensate someone that was killed or seriously injured. This portion of your automobile insurance policy will pay up to your coverage limit amounts if you are found legally responsible for damages in the following situations:

  • You cause an accident in Michigan in which someone is killed, seriously injured, or permanently disfigured;
  • You are involved in an accident in Michigan with a non-resident who is an occupant of a motor vehicle not registered in Michigan;
  • You are involved in an accident in another state; or
  • For up to $3,000 if you are 50% or more at fault in an accident which causes damages to another person’s car which are not covered by insurance.

Your required minimum coverage No-Fault policy will pay up to certain amounts if you are found legally responsible. Although you may purchase coverage with different limits by speaking with your agent or company, the default coverage is:

  • Up to $250,000 for a person who is hurt or killed in an accident;
  • Up to $500,000 for each accident if several people are hurt or killed;
  • Up to $10,000 for property damage in another state.

On Driving Uninsured

As car insurance costs soar, Michigan faces a looming crisis with an increasing number of drivers unable to afford coverage. With nearly 20% of Michigan motorists already uninsured, this trend threatens to worsen an already dangerous situation on the roads.

Driving without insurance in Michigan isn’t just risky—it’s a misdemeanor punishable by fines up to $500, potential jail time of up to one year, or both. In addition, offenders face license suspension for 30 days or until they can prove insurance, accompanied by a hefty $125 reinstatement fee. The state also has the authority to restrict or suspend your registration if you cannot prove current insurance coverage, as well as impounding your vehicle and assessing driver responsibility fines.

This penalty not only impacts individual drivers but also jeopardizes public safety by potentially increasing the number of uninsured motorists on Michigan’s highways.

Of critical note is that you cannot sue an at-fault driver if you do not have your own insurance.

What if I’m Hit by an Uninsured Driver?

If you’re hit by an uninsured driver in Michigan, it can complicate your ability to recover damages for your injuries and vehicle damage.  As Michigan requires all drivers to carry No-Fault insurance, if you’re hit by an uninsured driver, your own PIP coverage should cover your medical expenses up to the limits you selected. However, additional optional insurances should be considered to keep you safe in the event other at-fault drivers are not insured.

Uninsured Motorist Coverage (UM) is an optional insurance that protects you if you’re involved in an accident caused by a driver who doesn’t have insurance. UM ensures you can recover damages for pain, suffering, and financial losses that the uninsured driver’s insurance would typically cover. It’s generally affordable and also covers hit-and-run incidents where the at-fault driver is unidentified.

Underinsured Motorist Coverage (UIM), also optional, comes into play when the at-fault driver’s insurance limits are insufficient to cover your losses. For instance, if your damages amount to $500,000 but the at-fault driver’s policy only covers $250,000, your UIM can provide additional compensation up to your policy’s limits. This coverage is crucial because many drivers carry only the minimum liability insurance required by law, which may not suffice for severe injury cases.

A Warning for Motorcyclists

The new No-Fault law has changed the amount of benefit available to a motorcyclist who has been injured in a crash with a “motor vehicle” (a car or truck). An injured motorcyclist’s No-Fault medical benefits are limited by whatever No-Fault coverage level exists in the auto insurance policy from which they are seeking benefits – which could be $50,000 (for drivers on Medicaid), $250,000, $500,000 or unlimited. This means that even if the motorcyclist has his or her own unlimited No-Fault auto insurance policy on his or her own motor vehicle, the level of No-Fault PIP medical benefits to which they will be entitled is limited by the coverage levels chosen by the owner or driver of the motor vehicle or motorcycle involved in the crash.​

What Affects My Car Insurance Rate?

Car insurance rates can vary widely based on several factors, and understanding these can help you manage your insurance costs. According to Nationwide Insurance, the most common rating factors used to determine whether a driver is considered low or high risk include:

Your Vehicle

  • Car Safety Features: Modern safety features can reduce your premiums since they lower the risk of injury and accidents.
  • Year and Make: Newer cars might be more expensive to insure due to higher replacement costs, while certain makes might have higher theft rates.
  • Age of the Vehicle: Older cars might be cheaper to insure but could lack modern safety features.
  • Vehicle Ownership: Whether you own, lease, or finance your vehicle can also impact rates.
  • Cost of Repairs: Vehicles that are more expensive to repair or have expensive parts can lead to higher premiums.

Where You Live

  • State Regulations: Each state has its own insurance regulations and coverage requirements.
  • Local Crime Rates: Higher rates of car theft or vandalism in your area can increase your premiums.
  • Accident Statistics: Areas with higher rates of traffic accidents may have higher insurance costs.

Your Demographics

  • Age: Younger, less experienced drivers often face higher premiums.
  • Gender: Statistically, male drivers, especially younger ones, tend to have higher rates.
  • Marital Status: Married individuals often enjoy lower rates, as they are statistically less likely to be involved in accidents.
  • Credit Score: A good credit score can lead to lower premiums as it’s associated with responsible behavior.
  • Profession: Certain professions may qualify for lower rates if they are considered lower risk.

Driving History

  • Driving Record: A clean driving record with no accidents or traffic violations can significantly lower your rates.
  • Mileage: The more you drive, the higher the risk of accidents, leading to higher premiums.
  • Years of Experience: More experienced drivers typically enjoy lower rates.

Our Attorneys Are Here To Help

Navigating through your auto insurance policy can be daunting, but with Christensen Law, it doesn’t have to be.

We offer a FREE REVIEW of your insurance declaration page and policy limits. Our team can help you understand the changes to the No-Fault requirements, what types of coverage you have, and how it may impact you. This service is provided at no cost to you, giving you peace of mind and confidence in your insurance protection. Whether you’re unsure about comprehensive coverage or need clarification on liability limits, our experts are here to help you make informed decisions.

As auto insurance costs continue to rise and regulations evolve, staying informed about your coverage is more critical than ever. Contact our team today to schedule your no-cost consultation and take control of your insurance decisions.

Our experienced attorneys are ready to assist you in navigating the complexities of No-Fault law and its impact on auto insurance, ensuring you have the protection you need.