DETROIT – Drivers in Michigan are facing a difficult choice when it comes to auto insurance. New monthly savings options might look attractive, but reduced rates could come with a hefty price for anyone seriously hurt in a crash.
Michigan’s unlimited no-fault insurance has previously provided automobile accident victims with lifetime unlimited care for traumatic brain and spinal cord injuries.
That care included not only their hospital costs, but rehab services, wheelchairs, in-home care and required modifications to their houses and vehicles.
That coverage is no longer required, but crash victims said it can be priceless on the road to recovery.
“I never thought this was going to happen to me,” Edward Mainguy said.
Mainguy, a retired Port Huron firefighter, was driving home one day when a deer jumped in front of his car, causing it to roll over. He broke his neck.
“I had three major surgeries on my desk within a couple of months,” Mainguy said.
He spent four months in the hospital and many more in a wheelchair. But with extensive work at the Rehabilitation Institute of Michigan (RIM), he’s now walking again.
“Best thing in the world,” Mainguy said. “Who wants to be in a bed for the rest of their life? That’s not the way to go.”
“The impact on a patient’s functional well-being is going to be catastrophic,” said Ali Zein, the admissions director and therapy manager at RIM.
Zein said most seriously injured patients will quickly exceed their capped coverage and face limited options. If they can’t afford rehab and other therapy, many will end up in nursing homes and long-term acute care facilities, he said.
“You have patients that come in requiring total assistance with simple tasks, like bathing, grooming, dressing, brushing their teeth,” Zein said. “Come discharge day, they’re walking out of here or they’re able to roll themselves out of here. We’ve had patients who were told they would never walk walk down the aisle at their wedding.”
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Mainguy said he’s grateful his care was covered. He urges others to do their homework before reducing their coverage.
“You’re only one accident away from being in my situation,” he said. “That’s why they call them accidents. Nobody intentionally does this.”
The coverage is extremely complicated, and that’s just one piece of the whole puzzle. You should ask your insurance agent and your medical insurer what would be covered in worst-case scenarios.
The cast of care for spinal cord and traumatic brain injuries adds up fast, so it’s important to make a fully informed decision.