LANSING — Members of the House Democratic Caucus held a press conference today to announce a series of bills intended to improve insurance dealings between providers and policy holders in Michigan. The 14-bill package will help keep rates low while increasing punishments for companies that use unfair or deceptive practices.

“Michiganders need insurance reforms that will save them money – not reforms that are designed to fatten the wallets of insurance company CEOs,” said state Representative Winnie Brinks (D-Grand Rapids), who sponsored one of the bills in the package. “Instead of weakening consumer protections, we need to hold insurance companies accountable and make sure they pay the price if they attempt to treat their customers unfairly.”

Brinks’ bill, House Bill 5519, would require property and casualty insurance companies to deal in good faith with a policy holder when a claim for benefits is made. Other bills would impose administrative fines for second violations made by insurance companies, create a right for an individual to pursue legal damages against an insurance company for denials made in bad faith and prohibit insurance companies from using an accident to justify rate increases on a policy holder if the policy holder was not at fault in the accident.

“Hardworking Michiganders are spending their hard-earned money to buy insurance policies that will protect them in the event of an accident, disease or disaster,” Brinks said. “Insurance companies must do the right thing when a customer files a claim. If they fail to live up to their agreement with their policy holders, they must be held accountable.”

The package of legislation also addresses Michigan’s automotive no-fault insurance system. Legislative Republicans have introduced proposals that would severely limit benefits to drivers and passengers involved in serious accidents, while delivering no long-term savings to insurance customers. Reforms introduced by House Democrats, on the other hand, are designed to protect customers and reduce insurance costs.

“The House Democrats’ plan to reform Michigan’s insurance industry extends protections to policy holders and lowers the cost of insurance for consumers across the state,â? Brinks said. “People want these kinds of reforms, not legislation that will make insurance companies more profitable at our expense. I urge my colleagues to work with us to bring real insurance reform to the state of Michigan.”