Critics of increases to the federal insurance minimum requirements for passenger carriers, including school bus operators, applaud recent actions by the U.S. House of Representatives to stop the authority of the Department of Transportation over these changes.
A provision to prohibit the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) from raising insurance limits was included in the 2016 DOT Appropriations bill by lawmakers. Both the United Motorcoach Association (UMA) and National School Transportation Association (NSTA) have opposed efforts by the FMCSA to increase insurance limits since these would adversely affect them.
“To significantly raise insurance requirements on motorcoaches without a comprehensive study of the industry and adequacy of current limits is unfair and imprudent,” said Dale Krapf, UMA vice chairman and Krapf Bus Companies chairman of the board.
Regulation of financial responsibilities for passenger carriers, according to NSTA Executive Director Ronna Weber, should remain with lawmakers.
“We know of no data supporting an increase to the school transportation industry and believe oversight and control of any decision concerning a change in premiums should lie in Congress’ hands,” said Weber.
Insurance issues for passenger carriers, especially school buses, Weber stated, are different from insurance issues affecting the overall trucking industry. “School buses are the safest form of transportation available and while school buses may seem similar to trucks in size, there are several fundamental differences between vehicle types and operating environments that impact federal insurance coverage requirements,” said Weber.
The appropriations bill will go to the House floor with the insurance provision included as early as June 1.