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The Michigan Supreme Court ruled last week strictly along partisan lines to lift the ban that previously prevented insurance companies from using credit scores to set rates for consumers.
Writing the majority Republican opinion, Justice Maura Corrigan ruled that the Michigan Office of Financial and Insurance Services, the regulatory body for the insurance industry, lacked the authority to ban the use of credit scores to determine premiums.
That means those with not-good-enough credit can be charged more when trying to get an insurance premium.
Chief Justice Marilyn Kelly wrote the dissenting opinion, arguing that the main reason for the State Insurance Code is to “provide for the continued availability and affordability of automobile insurance and homeowners insurance in this state and to facilitate the purchase of that insurance by all residents of this state at fair and reasonable rates.”
Because of that, Justice Kelly noted that the state’s Insurance Commissioner is empowered by the laws governing insurance regulation in the state to bar the use of credit scores.
Not only was I disappointed with the ruling, I kept asking myself, are the conservative justices living in a vacuum? Or do they all have pretty much the same lifestyle, like former Republican presidential candidate John McCain who could not remember how many houses he owns?
Apparently the collapse of the economy and its devastating effect on Michigan, leaving many jobless and struggling to pay their monthly bills, did not factor into this ruling. Even though the Insurance Code clearly stipulates the need for fair and resonable rates, the partisan justices have handed the insurance industry a financial windfall.
In an economy where there is high unemployment shrouded by the cloud of uncertainty, demanding more from families who are barely surviving, in addition to the nightmare of expensive mortgages, is absurd.
Giving legal justification to an unfair practice is not what Michigan needs. In fact this ruling by the state’s highest court will further drive people away from Michigan. It only oils the wheels of the exodus movement because once Michigan becomes known as the place of hardship, exorbitant insurance rates and as a leaderless state, we can have a funeral service for the state and forget about it once and for all.
Even though urban dwellers, especially Blacks, have historically been at the receiving end of negative policies pushed by money-grabbing, profit-driven industries, this recent court ruling will affect everyone, regardless of ethnicity.
Urban residents will not be the only ones to suffer in this case because the downturn of the economy has gone beyond Wayne County, and it is affecting suburbia.
The last thing Michigan needs is an unregulated industry, as evidenced by the collapse of Wall Street after years of deregulation of too-big-to-fail companies pushed mostly by GOP lawmakers.
If the court that is supposed to ensure fairness and justice does not appear to be that final arbiter, where should people with less power and money go?
The judiciary is supposed to be the last hope of the common man and this judgment goes against that philosophy.
While the insurance industry is excited with the ruling under the guise of helping those with good credit scores get better rates, the current economy contradicts their argument.
Because even those with previous good credit scores, because of the horrendous economy, are seeing their credit scores go down. Not because of their own fault, but by virtue of their employment situations. Unable to locate a job in time more often than not means paying your bills late.
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