Legislation that could significantly increase minimum liability insurance requirements for motor carriers has been reintroduced.
On April 15, Rep. Jesús “Chuy” García announced that he has reintroduced the “INSURANCE Act” to raise minimum insurance requirements for motor carriers to reflect increases in the cost of medical treatment. The text of the bill is not yet available.
When the bill was initially introduced in 2019, it pointed out that the current minimum insurance requirement of $750,000 established in 1980 has not been adjusted for inflation since then.
From the text of the 2019 version of the INSURANCE Act: “According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the amount of $750,000, set in 1980 (the year of enactment), would have the same purchasing power as $4,923,153.29 in 2019, if the amount was raised to account for medical-cost inflation.”
The bill also requires the U.S. Department of Transportation to adjust the minimum insurance requirement every five years to account for inflation relating to medical care.
The 2019 version of the INSURANCE Act was referred to the Subcommittee on Highways and Transit but never advanced.
“Families should not be saddled with long term-financial debt after dealing with the devastating injury or loss of a loved one. Still, thousands of families suffer in silence, burdened with insurmountable medical care costs after falling victim to catastrophic crashes with trucks,” said Rep. García. “The INSURANCE Act will reduce these undue burdens by increasing the minimum insurance requirement for trucks, which has gone unchanged for over 40 years.”
The bill is currently co-sponsored by Reps. Jared Huffman, Henry C. “Hank” Johnson, Jr. , John Garamendi, Mondaire Jones, Eddie Bernice Johnson, Steve Cohen, Adriano Espaillat, and Alan Lowenthal.
The bill also has the support of various highway safety groups including the Truck Safety Coalition, Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways (CRASH), Parents Against Tired Truckers (PATT), Institute for Safer Trucking, the American Association for Justice, and Road Safe America.
Groups like the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) have spoken out against an increase to minimum insurance requirements for truckers, pointing out that the move would likely not increase highway safety and pointing to a 2014 study that concluded that “The vast majority of CMV-caused crashes have relatively small cost consequences, and the costs are easily covered with the limits of mandatory liability insurance.”
In 2020, Garcia introduced an amendment to a transportation bill that would have would effectively increased current insurance liability requirements for commercial vehicle drivers from $750,000 to $2 million. The measure came under fire from members of the trucking industry who believed that it could force smaller carriers and owner-operators to shut down because of costs and it failed to advance.