The push to increase liability insurance minimums on private commercial motor vehicles has regained momentum from a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, garnering support from a number of colleagues and restarting the debate over financial responsibility of transportation companies.
Matt Cartwright (D-Pennsylvania) recently wrote a letter to Scott Darling, chief counsel and acting administrator of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), detailing the need for raising the level of monetary accountability on motor carriers, including trucks and buses. Cartwright mentioned in the letter that in the past 35 years, accidents involving trucks and buses have been steadily rising, citing a recent collision in his home state where a tractor-trailer slammed into a tour bus killing three and injuring a dozen others. The case is still under investigation.
“When truck and bus companies’ insurance polices cannot provide appropriate compensation for the crashes they cause, the resulting health care costs are passed onto taxpayers through government programs, such as Medicare, Medicaid and Tricare,” Cartwright wrote in his letter.
This comes on the heels of a failed attempt in June by Cartwright to amend a House bill on transportation funding to delete a portion that would prevent regulators from increasing insurance minimums. Twenty-six members of Congress signed the letter along side Cartwright, following an outreach campaign that the National School Transportation Association was a part of.
“The safety of our nation’s interstate highways is critically important and we urge the FMCSA to strengthen protections for individuals and families who suffer from devastating highway accidents, utilizing minimum insurance rates to improve safety outcomes,” wrote Cartwright.
He continued, stating that by requiring higher levels of insurance “companies will be encouraged to examine their overall safety practices, risk perceptions and mitigation techniques.”
While the proposed changes have not been disclosed, the rumors are that the limit, which currently stands at $5 million, could be potentially pushed to $20 million per incident or claim. This speculation has led to a number of companies to voice their opposition.