MACKINAC ISLAND, MI — Governor Gretchen Whitmer, leaders from the Michigan House and Senate, and officials from Detroit and around the state gathered on the big porch at the Grand Hotel this morning.

They were there to watch the Governor sign a bill into law for auto insurance reform.

The process on reform been stalled until there was a clear threat of a ballot initiative to make an end-run around Michigan’s Republican-controlled legislature and the Democratic Governor by billionaire mortgage mogul Dan Gilbert.

Senate Bill 1 stops the use of gender, marital status, home ownership, occupation and zip codes for setting rates. It also stops the use of credit scores, but doesn’t stop the use of credit reports. And location still matters, as yet-to-be defined “territories” replace zip codes.

It also allows policyholders to choose their level of Personal Injury Protection coverage, lowering a portion of the rates. It also guarantees rate decreases for eight years.

But the devil is in the details.

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan at the announcement said that Detroiters, on average, would see a $1,000 annual decrease in their car insurance rates, and out state would be about $500.

Hearing that, I realized standing on the porch it was time to do some math.

Auto insurance in the city of Detroit annually costs, on average, $5,464. The second most expensive city is New Orleans, Louisiana at $3,686.

Taking a grand off of Detroit’s total would put us at $4,464. Still more than $750 higher than the second ranked city.

In a city where the average household income is just under $30,000, cutting a bill by $1,000 is some relief and nothing to sneeze at. But it still results in a monthly premium of $372 a month.

But it’s not just Detroit. Let’s zoom out to the state level to use that $500 number.

Using the same data set as Detroit, Michigan’s average annual rate is $2,693. Most expensive in the nation, again. The $500 cut brings us to $2,193.

We’ll slide into second most expensive in the nation, behind Louisiana ($2,339) and just above Rhode Island ($2,110).

There’s been a lot of stories hailing this deal as “historic.” And far as getting cooperation across the aisles, it is. It’s been rare.

But as far as actual impact? So far, this looks like a deal on the edges. Not a comprehensive reform.

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