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Double billing: Arguing against first responder fees

In a recent editorial to the Times Herald in Port Huron, Michigan, the executive of Michigan's Insurance Institute argued against the trend of cities billing citizens whenever the police or fire departments respond to their traffic crash. The letter explains that auto insurance policies do not include coverage for the cost of first responder care or equipment, so why should we be charged separately for the accident report? Regardless, if you become involved in a personal injury lawsuit for damages after a motor vehicle accident, you may be able to recover those fees in the settlement.

No doubt, Michigan's No-Fault Personal Injury Protection benefits throw a curve ball into all of this. Our auto insurance no-fault policies give us a lifetime of unlimited medical benefits if we are ever injured in an auto accident. Only 12 states currently have no-fault laws, but even then, they contain qualitative or quantitative thresholds.

It seems the charge from local cities and other municipalities is only for the report that firefighters and police officers have to file after an accident. Accident victims are certainly surprised when the bill shows up in their mailbox.

So, the Jaws of Life and oxygen tanks are covered, but not the piece of paper that the officers have to write on? Apparently not. Municipalities believe that insurance companies should pay for the reports and investigations because it is the insurance companies that use the reports. But doing so would simply pass the increased costs onto the policyholders.

Many people use those accident reports: personal injury lawyers, doctors, emergency room staff, prosecuting and defense attorneys, the media, at the Department of Motor Vehicles.

Source: thetimesherald.com, "Traffic-crash fee is double-billing," Pete Kuhnmuench, June 25, 2012

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