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Increased Commercial Carrier Liability Insurance Coverage Sought by Congress

Apr 24, 2014

United States Representative Matt Cartwright (Democrat-Pennsylvania) has been fighting to increase liability insurance coverage for commercial carriers, and recently received backing from the head of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).

Representative Cartwright has said that decades of insufficient liability insurance for commercial carriers has led to inadequate compensation, as well as an unnecessary financial burden on the Social Security Administration and Medicare, when catastrophic injury resulting from commercial vehicle crashes occurs.

Representative Cartwright wrote to the head of the FMCSA, Anne Ferro on October 31, 2013, seeking action and review by the Administration over the appropriateness of the long-standing federally mandated tractor trailer liability insurance minimum limit. For the past 32 years, the limit has been set at $750,000.

Congressman Bruce Braley (Democrat, Iowa); Congressman John Lewis (Democrat-Georgia); Congresswoman Grace Napolitano (Democrat-California); Congressman Albio Sires (Democrat-New Jersey); Congressman Robert Scott (Democrat-Virginia); Congressman Robert Brady (Democrat-Pennsylvania); Congressman Chaka Fattah (Democrat-Pennsylvania); and Congressman Filemon Vela (Democrat-Texas) also signed the letter.

Representative Cartwright announced that Ms. Ferro responded to the request and that FMCSA issued a report to Congress that concluded information indicating that today’s limits do not adequately cover catastrophic crashes. The letter also indicated that to increase existing limits to accommodate for healthcare inflation the following limit increases must be put in place:

General Tractor Trailers
From today’s $750,000 to a proposed $3,188,250

Low Hazard Hazmat Tractor Trailers
From today’s $1 million to a proposed $4,251,000

High Hazard Hazmat Tractor Trailers and Large Buses
From today’s $5 million to a proposed $21,255,000

Small Buses
From today’s $1.5 million to a proposed $6,376,500

The FMCSA response also indicated that, “The Agency has formed a rulemaking team to further evaluate the appropriate level of financial responsibility for the motor carrier industry and has placed this rulemaking among the Agency’s high priority rules.”

The move is meant to increase highway safety by increasing funds that cover trucking accidents.

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