Man paralyzed in crash speaks out against Michigan’s no-fault auto reform: ‘I had a life. I don’t have one now’

Companies discharging no-fault clients

Reform of Michigan’s no fault auto insurance law, which passed in 2019, was hailed as a way to finally lower people’s exorbitant premiums. While many have seen thousands in savings and many others await $400 checks from their insurance companies, there have been some unintended consequences. Those who have been injured in catastrophic accidents were previously fully covered in their treatment, but what’s happening to them under this new law, according to those involved, is being called a humanitarian crisis.

The reform of Michigan’s no-fault auto insurance law, which passed in 2019, was hailed as a way to finally lower people’s exorbitant premiums.

While many have seen thousands in savings and many others await $400 checks from their insurance companies, there have been some consequences.

Those who have been injured in catastrophic accidents were previously fully covered in their treatment, but what’s happening to them under this new law, according to those involved, is being called a humanitarian crisis.

Read: Michiganders receiving catastrophic care services worry of cuts under new auto insurance fees

Brian Woodward knows all about Michigan’s no-fault insurance system. He was paralyzed from the chest down in a car crash when he was 24 years old. For 30 years he was living a productive life.

“I was working 40 hours as a contractor for one of the big three automakers. I had gone back to college and got a bachelor’s degree. I had bought my own house,” Woodward said.

He even went hunting and fishing.

“Some people said I did more than what other people were doing on their feet,” Woodward said.

But since last summer, steadily many people have lost not only coverage -- but their at-home healthcare providers because the money simply isn’t there. It means people like Woodward can’t live at home and are forced to move to rehab facilities.

Read: Flashpoint: Reform for no-fault auto reform; Tackling surging inflation

“I lost my caregivers because the company that was providing the caregivers could only pay them about $12 per hour,” Woodward said.

Proponents of the new law said that on top of finally lowering auto insurance premiums in the state, previous victims of catastrophic accidents are grandfathered in and covered.

But so many people like Woodward are getting letters stating they are discharging no-fault clients.

“They were not grandfathered into family provided care. They are being limited to 56 hours,” Tiffany Youngs-Bokas, COO of Kennedy Care, said. “You still have that benefit, but the trouble is is that no one can afford to provide it to you for what they’re being reimbursed for.”

“I had a life. I don’t have one now. And I’m not happy about it,” Woodward said.

As for the $400 checks. Brian said that’s part of the money that could be used for those patients, and in many cases like his, keep them in their homes and not in rehab centers.

Read: Michigan starts issuing $400 auto insurance refund checks: Your most common questions answered


About the Authors:

Jason anchors Local 4's 5:30 p.m. newscast. He joined WDIV in January 2015 as a general assignment reporter and has a Journalism degree from Michigan State University.

Kayla is a Web Producer for ClickOnDetroit. Before she joined the team in 2018 she worked at WILX in Lansing as a digital producer.