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Uninsured drivers can still take advantage of amnesty provision

Michigan drivers who lack insurance are reminded that Jan. 1 is the deadline to take advantage of the state’s uninsured motorist amnesty period.

This consumer protection has already allowed more than 100,000 previously uninsured Michiganders to buy penalty-free auto insurance, said Department of Insurance and Financial Services Director Anita Fox.

“Prior to the amnesty period, drivers who had let their insurance lapse faced potentially expensive penalties and fees if they later tried to purchase an auto insurance policy,” Fox said at a news conference held Tuesday to highlight insurance reform.

The amnesty period ensures that fees will not be charged if the driver applies for a policy before the Jan. 1 deadline, Fox explained. Beginning in 2022, those fees can once again be charged.

Before Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed the bipartisan auto insurance reform law in 2019, an estimated 20% of Michiganders were believed to be driving without insurance. The amnesty period gives those who have allowed their auto insurance coverage to lapse the opportunity to purchase a policy without facing penalties or increased premiums if they apply for coverage with a licensed insurance agent or insurance company before the Jan. 1 deadline.

To drive legally in Michigan, state law requires the purchase of no-fault automobile insurance. Driving without insurance is punishable as a misdemeanor with a fine of up to $500 and up to one year in jail. The court may also order your license suspended for 30 days or until you are able to provide proof of valid insurance.

Auto insurance also provides financial security. If you or your family are injured in an auto accident, your auto insurance will pay all reasonably necessary expenses up to the limit of coverage you elect to purchase, as well as wage loss benefits and replacement service benefits.

In a serious accident, injuries can amount to hundreds of thousands of dollars in cost to you. The financial security that results from being insured is one of the most important reasons to purchase insurance.

Fox was joined at Tuesday’s press conference by Krysten Jones, 35, of Detroit. She was once paying more than $550 a month for auto insurance, despite a clean driving record. Jones had allowed that policy to lapse.

“I was willing to take the risk of driving uninsured,” she said. “(Under the new law) I knew I could sign up for coverage without paying fees or penalties, and my rates immediately dropped by nearly $400 a month. I was recently in an accident and I’m thankful that I was able to get this coverage before I needed it without paying fees or penalties. I encourage everyone to get covered as soon as possible.”

Consumers who have questions about the new law, including the amnesty period, should contact DIFS Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Eastern time at 877-999-6442 or by emailing autoinsurance@michigan.gov.

Consumers can also find a listing of frequently asked questions, tips for shopping for insurance, and an insurance locator to help find licensed agents by going to Michigan.gov/AutoInsurance.

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