Video above shows example of Detroit woman forced to walk home in 2 degree weather Detroit police impound car; officer Gary Steele later demoted for racist post

Detroiters pay highest car insurance rates, have highest unemployment and child poverty rates in U.S.

U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib co-sponsors PAID bill that would lower rates

Dennis Boatwright II

By Dennis S. Boatwright II

July 22, 2019

Thousands of low-income metro-Detroit area moms cannot drive to work because law enforcement officials tow away their cars after they are unable to show proof of insurance, according to Wayne County Clerk records.

Consequently, these near minimum wage earners lose their only means of transportation and must scramble to find other ways to take their children to daycare and doctor appointments.

Essentially, thousands of cars bulge through the gates of police impounds because the mothers don’t earn enough money to pay Detroit’s unaffordable car insurance rates.

For instance, non-Michigan residents are astonished that Michigan drivers pay on average $2,693 annually, and are taken aback that Wayne County residents (including Detroit) pay nearly double that rate at $5,646 per year. This means Detroiters, in particular, have to pay the highest car insurance premiums in the nation, even though Motor City has the lowest per-capita income among large U.S. cities. Detroit’s unbelievable car insurance rates are double that of Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York City, big cities that also have high concentrations of people of color, as well as poverty and crime.

Car being impounded. Most drivers can’t afford costs to get cars back, they are sold at auction.

More directly, the average U.S. citizen pays only $115.00 per month while the average Detroiter pays an astonishing $470.00 each month per vehicle. In real terms, that means most Detroiters are paying two car notes every month, essentially.

It is no wonder that sixty percent of Detroit motorists take the chance of driving uninsured.

Since most Detroiters are unable to pay $470.00 per month, many don’t have coverage. This explains why police impounds are crammed with confiscated vehicles that otherwise can be driven.

According to 36th District Court records, when a single mom is pulled over for no insurance coverage, her car is impounded and she is written a two-hundred dollar misdemeanor citation. To get the car back, these distressed mothers are required to show proof of insurance and pay up to $900 in towing and storage fees in order to get the vehicle released from police custody. The fine and impoundment easily surpasses $1,000.

Detroit mother and children.

Since most struggling mothers cannot afford adequate insurance coverage nor the dispiriting towing and storage scams, their cars are auctioned away—oftentimes to a fellow police officer–after thirty days if they are unable to hustle up the cash.

Since the majority of single-parent moms don’t have required insurance, a nefarious cottage industry has popped up to feed off Detroiters who cannot pay such crippling premiums (sometimes 40-percent of their monthly incomes). Strip mall insurance brokerage companies like L.A. Insurance and Advasure sell desperate car owners thirteen-day car insurance policies for $400 ($800/mo). Then the relieved insured catch a ride to the police impound waving an insurance certificate to rescue the vehicle out of car jail, as they call it. Since the insurance policy just lasts two weeks, this sad cycle repeats itself over and over again.

To be sure, many are led to believe that car insurance in Detroit is the highest solely because of lower credit scores or high crime rates. (Credit scores are not the biggest spoiler, though in many cases they are privately factored in.)

Frankly, one reason Detroiters pay high insurance rates is that their political representation is indifferent and relatively weaker than the rest of the nation.

But there is room for hope.

Cars in impound lot.

Enough state legislators can vote to place a cap on how much an insurance company can charge motorists. If Detroiters want to get their insurance premiums lowered to the national average they must elect and support lawmakers who rank lowering car insurance premiums high on their legislation agendas.

So far, only freshman U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI, 13th District) considers this an urgent issue and has already made changes to Michigan’s insurance costs that will provide a 10-percent relief to monthly payments.

However, much more needs to be done and many more lawmakers must be willing to attack this exploitation of poor people. Sympathetic legislators need serious pastors, grassroots educators, and everyday folks to unite and mobilize around this important issue. Otherwise, thousands of more teary-eyed moms will be ordered to “step outside the car.”

U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib Bill Could Bar Michigan Auto Insurers From Using Non-Driving Factors

By Bethan Moorecraft

July 15, 2019 Ju

U.S. Rep Rashida Tlaib (D-Michigan)

st weeks after Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed a landmark no-fault auto insurance reform bill, legislators are demanding for more to be done to reduce the state’s extortionate auto insurance rates.

US Rep. Rashida Tlaib has introduced a bill called the Prohibit Auto Insurance Discrimination Act (PAID), which would prevent auto insurance companies from using non-driving factors like zip code, census tract, gender, education, occupation, employment, homeownership, credit score, and marital status, to determine rates.

According to a report in the Detroit Metro Times, Tlaib brought PAID to the table alongside Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman, D-N.J., because she believes the bill recently signed into law by Governor Gretchen Whitmer “does not go far enough to stop these harmful practices” of using non-driving factors.

“Auto insurance rates should be determined by your driving record, not your credit score, gender, marital status, education, residence, or any other non-driving factor that has nothing to do with your safety on the roads,” Tlaib commented. “Drivers in Michigan’s 13th congressional district face some of the highest car insurance rates in the nation, and non-driving factors that serve as proxies for race and income and allow modern-day redlining are a main culprit. The use of non-driving factors puts marginalized communities at a disadvantage and creates obstacles to economic opportunity for families.”

U. S. Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ)

According to the insurance search engine, The Zebra, Michigan has the highest auto insurance rates in the country, with an average premium of $2,693. Some drivers in the state are paying in the realm of $5,000 every year to get on the roads, which takes a significant chunk out of the average annual income of Detroiters.  

Watson Coleman told the Detroit Metro Times: “Car insurance is absolutely necessary for most American families, so when companies raise rates for unfair, undisclosed, and unproven reasons, families are going to be hurt. Income proxies like where you work or whether you have a college degree don’t weed out bad drivers — they just create a two-tier system where those who make less get charged higher rates. Working families deserve better than a system that is fundamentally unfair.”

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