Yesterday, Michigan had a larger-than-expected snowstorm and a lot of Michigan was unprepared, resulting in near-zero visibility during the morning commute. The storm was so bad that all the lanes of U.S. 23 closed down after a pileup involving 30 vehicles was reported in Munday Township.



As of yet, there have not been any reported casualties. But it got me thinking: how does insurance work when so many cars are involved in one accident? So I did some digging.


Michigan Insurance

Full coverage on a car costs an average of $2,133, making it the fourth most expensive rate in the country. Ever hit a massive pothole in the spring? Slide off the road from ice? Yeah, the snow is the reason our rates are so high. Michigan is also unique because it is among the few states that utilize no-fault insurance rather than TORT insurance. From Michigan Auto Law:


if you are injured in a car accident, an auto insurance company will pay your medical bills and lost wages regardless of wtehter you were at-fault. Either you or the legally responsible company will pay once you file an application for benefits.


Even though your insurance company will handle the costs involved in the accident, you are still legally allowed to sue the at-fault driver. The Michigan Department of Insurance and Financial Services provides a full breakdown of how no-fault insurance works, and you can read it here.


An ambulance responds to the scene of an emergency.

How Insurance Works in a Pileup

Multi-car pileups are incredibly difficult for insurance companies to figure out. States with no-fault insurance are fairly simple regarding pileups since no fault is at fault. This, determining who is at fault, is usually the thing that makes multi-car pileups so complicated. In TORT Insurance, companies need to determine who is at fault to charge the at-fault person's insurance.


Auto accident involving two cars on a city street


However, when there are so many people involved in an accident, there is usually not just one person at fault, or it can even be possible for no one to be at fault, or no one at fault if it is weather-related. Even if fault can be determined, when there are that many cars involved, it isn't possible for one person's insurance to pay out all those cars, and will probably cause no one to get any assistance from insurance.


At the end of the day, if you're in a multi-car pileup, you're most likely on your own.


Car Crashes from the 1950s Around Western Colorado

Here's a brief gallery featuring car accidents around Mesa County. Nothing of a graphic nature has been included in the gallery. All photos by Robert Grant.

Gallery Credit: Waylon Jordan

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