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Lawmaker introduces bill to raise carriers' required insurance minimum almost 500 percent

Rep. Matt Cartwright said the new minimum is "essential to protecting our nation’s highways and ensuring that victims receive the proper amount of compensation." (The Trucker file photo)

The Trucker News Services

7/19/2013

WASHINGTON — Rep. Matt Cartwright, D-Penn., has introduced legislation that would raise the required insurance minimum for motor carriers from $750,000 to $4,422,000 per truck, increase of almost 500 percent.

Congress established the current insurance minimum in 1980.

Before being elected to Congress last year, Cartwright was a member of the law firm of Munley, Munley and Cartwright, a firm that specializes in accident and injury claims. After Cartwright was elected, he resigned the firm, which is now called Munley Law.

In present dollars, adjusted for the increase in the cost of medical care, it takes more than $4.4 million to provide for the equivalent of the $750,000 in the original law, Cartwright said.

“This is a matter of public safety.  Tragically, more than 100,000 people have been killed in commercial vehicle collisions since 1980,” Cartwright said.  “This legislation is essential to protecting our nation’s highways and ensuring that victims receive the proper amount of compensation for their losses.”

The current minimum of $750,000 fails to perform the basic functions that Congress intended: to promote safe operations by holding insurers responsible for inspecting trucking operations prior to underwriting policies and to protect the public, Cartwright said. 

Additionally, according to a recent study conducted by the Trucking Alliance, 42 percent of the dollar settlements paid by trucking companies between 2005 and 2011 for motor vehicle accidents exceeded the minimum insurance requirement, he added.

"Outdated trucking insurance limits shift the burden of crash costs to injured motorists, taxpayers, medical insurance carriers, and Medicare.  This legislation is long overdue," said American Association for Justice President Mary Alice McLarty.

The bill would also tie the future insurance minimum requirement to the cost of medical care inflation.

“This legislation protects the American public as well as trucking companies by ensuring sufficient coverage is available to cover the total costs of commercial vehicle accidents,” Cartwright said.

The Trucker staff can be reached to comment on this article at editor@thetrucker.com.

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