Collision Course: Epilogue Part 2
Collision Course is a special Stateside podcast series about the breaking of Michigan’s no-fault auto insurance law and how it’s upending the lives of thousands of people, including one Detroit hockey legend.
This is Part 2 of the epilogue for Collision Course. You can listen to previous episodes here.
A class-action lawsuit before the state Supreme Court regarding auto insurance coverage could reroute the course for thousands of car crash survivors in Michigan, including Red Wings defenseman Vladimir Konstatinov.
The case – commonly known as the Andary case– involves two car crash survivors suing their car insurance company – USAA Casualty Insurance – to cover the full cost of their care. Changes to auto insurance law in 2019 allowed insurance companies to cut healthcare payments for long term critical care by 45%.
The Andary argument is that because their accidents happened before auto no-fault reform in 2019, they should still be covered.
In essence, they say that the auto no-fault reform law should not be applied retroactively, and everyone who paid for lifetime coverage before their accident should get the kind of care they’ve received for years.
The Court of Appeals response
Earlier this year the Michigan Court of Appeals sided with the plaintiffs. The decision meant insurance companies were to go back to paying a “reasonable rate” for necessary medical care for previous accident victims, rather than the deeply discounted rate that was part of the no-fault reform.
But insurance companies took swift action. They asked for two things: an appeal before the state Supreme Court, and for a stay on the Appellate Court decision. The insurance companies wanted the 2019 changes to auto no-fault to remain in place while the Michigan Supreme Court considered the case. The stay would have meant that insurance companies would not go back to paying full reimbursements while the case was in court.
The State Supreme Court’s response
The state Supreme Court came out with their response last week that they will begin hearings for this case in March of 2023.
The court also did not grant the stay, meaning insurance companies should continue paying the pre-2019 benefit levels until the case is decided.
But it’s not that simple.
“You might think that [victims and advocates would] be all excited,” said Tracy Samilton, reporter with Michigan Radio who’s been covering changes in auto insurance law. “But a lot of them realize it may not be automatic. It may not happen for them for a long time. Car crash victims have been fighting for more than a year to try to convince state Republicans that they made a mistake. They have had no success there. So a lot of this is riding on what the Supreme Court decides in the Andary case, and they know it.”
What this means for Vladimir Konstantinov
Red Wing defenseman Vladimir Konstantinov – who was catastrophically injured during a limo accident in1997 – needs around-the-clock care. This costs around $26,000 a month.
Since the 2019 auto no-fault reform took into effect, the company that provides his home care has been footing the difference of the bill.
But this new information from the court could mean that the scales are about to even out.
“People who have suffered through this type of traumatic injury should not then have to try and worry about how they're going to pay for it when they already have been guaranteed lifetime coverage through their policy and contract negotiations and parameters"Theresa Ruedisueli
Theresa Ruedisueli, who is the regional director of operation for Vladmir Konstantinov’s home care agency Arcadia Homecare and Staffing said that the company finished resubmitting all outstanding claims according to the recent Andary case order. She told us that one claim can be upwards of 2,000 pieces of paper.
“It takes a tremendous amount of time, man hours and just tenacity to get that all done,” Ruedisueli said.
She told us that so far none of the claims have come through yet, but she’s hopeful that they will.
“We've done all of our work on our end. So now it's in the insurance companies hands to do the right thing and to live up to the current law,” she said.
“Bake Sales” for Vladdie
In the meantime, Vladimir Konstantinov’s family and care team is still organizing fundraisers to pay for the cost of care. It’s a contingency plan.
And because of Konstantinov’s notoriety, there’s been outrage about these care reimbursement costs.
“People who have suffered through this type of traumatic injury should not then have to try and worry about how they're going to pay for it when they already have been guaranteed lifetime coverage through their policy and contract negotiations and parameters,” said Reudisueli.
We asked the Insurance Alliance of Michigan to appear on Collision Course and Stateside. After the state Supreme Court decided to hear the Andary case, the IAM executive director Erin McDonough released the following statement.
“If you pull the string on part of the medical fee schedule, the sweater unravels quickly. Everyone who got $400 per-vehicle refunds this past spring are going to be sending $48 of it back to the MCCA because of the disruption caused by the Court of Appeals’ decision. Both before and after the 2019 reforms, insurers have remained liable to pay reasonable and medically necessary care for those injured in auto accidents in Michigan. The issue is not about access to care, but about medical providers demanding an unchecked level of compensation, which the Court of Appeals has said should be no-holds-bared for those injured prior to when the auto no-fault reform law was changed in 2019, even though we’re talking about medical services that will occur in the future. With Andary appealed, we are waiting for the Michigan Supreme Court to make a final decision.”