LANSING — State Rep. Brian K. Elder (D-Bay City) has introduced a bill that would prevent insurance companies from raising auto insurance rates when a driver submits a claim from pothole damage to his or her vehicle. The bill comes at a particularly important time for Michiganders, as winter weather exacerbates the state’s already crumbling infrastructure.

“As temperatures change quickly, and our roads are subjected to all manner of weather, we’ve once again entered pothole season in Michigan,” said Rep. Elder. “When the snow begins to melt, new, deeper and more problematic potholes are going to emerge — that’s just inevitable. What we can do, however, is ensure that Michigan drivers are not penalized for our state’s bad roads.” 

The state’s weakened roads — which have not been fixed despite the passage of a package in August 2015 that was meant to finance infrastructure repairs through an increase in gas taxes and registration fees — cost Michigan motorists $4.6 billion a year annually in extra vehicle repairs and operating costs, totaling out to roughly $649 a year per motorist. Rep. Elder’s bill would prevent an automobile insurer from establishing a rate or premium surcharge based upon a prior claim for vehicle damage caused by a pothole. Rep. Patrick Green (D-Warren), a co-sponsor of the bill, praised Rep. Elder for taking initiative to protect motorist rights.

“The condition of roads in Michigan is indicative of a broader need to update our infrastructure statewide,” said Rep. Green. “The financial burden of damage caused by potholes should not fall on the consumer, especially when the state is not yet taking sufficient steps to solve this problem.”

 “Hiking insurance rates after pothole damage is essentially punishing Michigan drivers for using our roads,” said Rep. Elder. “Those potholes are not the fault of the driver, and they are unavoidable unless you stay off the road altogether. That is just not an option for the hardworking men and women of our state, many of whom have to commute for work. Protecting our drivers has to be a priority.”