Not a great week for auto owners in Mich.
It was not a good week for auto owners.
On Thursday, members of the Michigan Catastrophic Claims Association announced they were raising the per-insured vehicle assessment in insurance policies from $192 to $220 for the 2019-20 period.
The announced increase generated an immediate response from Michigan House Republicans via Twitter: “MI drivers will now be assessed the highest car insurance fees ever,” the GOP tweeted. “On top of paying the highest car insurance rates in the country. With the governor proposing the highest gas taxes in the country. It’s unacceptable.”
The tweet then directed people to state Rep. Jason Wentworth’s webpage. Wentworth, who chairs the House Select Committee on Reducing Car Insurance Rates, said “this (the MCCA’s announcement) on top of the governor’s lazy 45-cent gas tax proposal is going to drive residents out of the state and hurt Michigan’s economy.”
I have news for Jason — wait, it gets even better.
According to GasBuddy.com, national analysts examining the petroleum industry, Michigan consumers were experiencing higher increases in gas prices over the last three weeks than consumers anywhere else in the U.S.
“Gas prices in the Midwest have seen a large surge in recent weeks with average gas prices in Michigan leading the nation, rising 75 cents per gallon from their 2019 low,” said Patrick DeHaan, head of petroleum analysis at GasBuddy.
“It’s been nothing short of madness at the pumps since early January with retail gasoline prices on a tear, especially in the Great Lakes,” he said.
On Friday, the average price of gas in Alpena was $2.90 for regular unleaded. However, there was nearly a 30-cent difference by just traveling 65 miles south to Tawas City, where gas was selling Friday for $2.61 a gallon. In Gaylord, gas averaged $2.90 a gallon, while in Traverse City it was selling for $2.74 a gallon.
While prices are up all over the state, there are huge discrepancies right now between Alpena and points elsewhere.
And it might not improve anytime soon.
“Gasoline prices have increased in all 50 states in the last week as refineries continue working toward cleaner, more expensive gasoline and as oil prices have continued creeping higher,” DeHaan said. “Unfortunately as seasonal issues continue to weigh on markets along with higher oil prices, it’s likely we’ll continue to be in this pattern for at least a few more weeks.”
The lowest priced gas in Michigan this week sold at $2.33 a gallon, while the highest priced was $2.99. Nationwide, the lowest price was $1.12, with the highest price at $5.04.
All in all, it was a bad week for motorists — or was it?
As the frustrating list grew longer and longer , it might have given Michigan legislators more reason to move quickly on auto insurance reform in our state. If that happens, there is a growing belief that state legislative leaders will work with Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on an acceptable gas tax compromise that will fall short of of the 45 cents she proposed, but still be enough to get roads repaired. The two — auto insurance and gas tax — might be bundled together.
If both of those issues were hammered out and gas prices would stabilize in the months ahead, consumer confidence would grow again, which would lead to more summer travel.
If that were to occur, it would be welcome news indeed to tourism-related businesses everywhere.
Bill Speer can be reached at 989-354-3111, ext. 311, or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @billspeer13.