But unlike other states, which require drivers to carry only a limited amount of PIP coverage, Michigan's no-fault auto insurance policies guarantee unlimited medical benefits. Insurers pay medical claims up to $530,000, and the nonprofit Michigan Catastrophic Claim Association covers medical costs exceeding that threshold. Car owners must pay an annual assessment to the association, currently $186 per vehicle. The fee is not included in the Insure.com premium study, yet Michigan still ranks as the most expensive state.
Some people simply can't afford the premiums, says Jeremy MacDonald, immediate past president of the Michigan Association of Professional Insurance Agents and president of the Mid-Michigan Agency in Alma.
"People will cut where they can," he says. "They have to sacrifice things they are likely to use, like collision insurance, to pay for things they aren't likely to use, (like unlimited PIP benefits)."
Rates are highest in Detroit, where some residents fudge addresses to get a break on rates.Still others deal with high rates by signing up for insurance to register their cars and then dropping the coverage. Some agents sell seven-day policies, which technically fit the letter of the law, but are clearly designed to skirt the state's requirement for drivers to carry insurance, MacDonald says. No. 2: Montana Car insurance rates soar into the big sky in Montana, according to the Insure.com study, which calculated an average premium of $1,886. Montana has made the top 10 in previous years, but this is the first year it broke into the top three most expensive states. A variety of factors may be at play, says Bob Biskupiak, CEO of the Independent insurance Agents of Montana. In efforts to bring insurers to the state, he says, he and others have heard carriers express caution about the state's court system. "We're viewed by insurance companies as having a more liberal court," he says.