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Bill Seeks To Raise Trucking Liability Insurance Minimums

A federal bill would increase the minimum limits for trucking liability insurance coverage from $750,000 to $4.4 million. The bill, labeled the “Safe and Fair Environment on Highways Achieved through Underwriting Levels Act,” or “SAFE HAUL,” would require companies that carry trucking liability insurance to purchase at least $4.4 million in coverage. U.S. Rep. Matt Cartwright (D-PA) proposed the legislation, which would raise the minimum liability levels for trucking companies for the first time in 35 years.

Details of the Trucking Liability Insurance Bill

According to Rep. Cartwright, the federal limits on trucking liability insurance were first established in 1980. The $750,000 limit has not been raised since then. Rep. Cartwright proposed the $4.4 million limit on trucking liability insurance to reflect 35 years of inflation and increasing health care costs for trucking accident victims. He also proposed that the trucking liability insurance bill include an annual cost-of-living adjustment to the minimum coverage amounts to keep up with inflation rates.

Reasons for Raising Trucking Liability Insurance Limits

Rep. Cartwright also stated that commercial vehicle collisions have claimed more than 100,000 lives in the 35 years since Congress placed minimum limits on trucking liability insurance coverage. The initial law was intended to hold insurers liable for trucking operations before the underwriting process for their trucking liability insurance policies was completed. Rep. Cartwright pointed out that the current minimum coverage of $750,000 would not cover the medical costs of most injured parties involved in a major trucking accident.

Impact of Trucking Liability Insurance Limits

The efforts to raise the minimum limits on trucking liability insurance coverage could have a significant impact on the trucking industry as a whole. A report from the Trucking Alliance, a trucking industry support group, found that 42 percent of the cash settlements paid by trucking companies from 2005 to 2011 were more than the current trucking liability insurance limits. Despite the need for increased coverage, some smaller companies may hesitate to pay higher premiums that insurers may charge them to maintain such coverage.

Trucking Liability Insurance Bill “Matter of Public Safety”

Rep. Cartwright called the bill, which he first proposed in 2013, “a matter of public safety” and that it would “ensur(e) that victims receive the proper amount of compensation” for their injuries. Mary Alice McLarty, president of the American Association for Justice, called the trucking liability insurance bill “long overdue.” She said that the current trucking liability insurance regulations “shift the burden of crash costs to injured motorists, taxpayers, medical insurance carriers, and Medicare.”

Source: CDL Life:

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