No-fault automobile insurance is required by law in Michigan. Every vehicle owner must purchase certain basic insurance coverages to drive their vehicle (in fact, the Secretary of State office will not issue registrations or license plate tags without showing proof of insurance). "The owner or registrant of a motor vehicle required to be registered in this state shall maintain security for payment of benefits under personal protection insurance, property protection insurance, and residual liability insurance." MCL 500.3101(1). It is a crime to operate a vehicle without security (a.k.a. minimum automobile insurance) in the State of Michigan.
The minimum coverage required to be purchased for no-fault insurance must include the following:
- Up to $20,000 limit per person injured.
- Up to $40,000 limit per accident if two or more people are injured or killed.
- Up to $10,000 limit for property damage caused by your car in another state.
- Property protection insurance (PPI) up to $1 million for damage your car causes to other people's property such as buildings and fences.
- Personal injury protection (PIP) up to $5,700 per day in 2018 for reimbursement to eligible injured parties as a result of an accident for wage loss, medical expenses and essential services.
These coverage limits represent the bare minimum and Michigan drivers can (and often do) purchase higher limits and additional insurance such as comprehensive coverage and collision coverage. The purpose of the no-fault insurance laws is to protect all Michigan drivers and reduce litigation (e.g. if one driver collides with another driver and neither had insurance, then the injured driver must sue in court to recover damages). Uninsured drivers operating their vehicles in a careless manner simply make the system more expensive for everyone else.
Minimum automobile insurance is only required to be in effect during the period the motor vehicle is driven or moved on a highway. A "highway" means a public road or street, so security is not required if the vehicle does not leave private property.
Driving without automobile insurance carries bigger penalties than you may expect. A person who operates a motor vehicle on a public highway without the minimum required security is guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by a fine between $200 and $500, or up to one year in jail, or both. MCL 500.3102(2). There are no points assessed against a Michigan operator's license for this offense, but the fines and costs are usually stiff.
If you are charged with operating a vehicle without security, an experienced traffic lawyer may be able to negotiate a resolution with the prosecutor to reduce this offense to a lesser misdemeanor, a civil infraction or even a dismissal under the right circumstances. If you or a loved one need help defending against any traffic offense in the State of Michigan, do not hesitate to contact the attorneys at Kershaw, Vititoe & Jedinak for your best defense today.