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THUD amendment against raising liability insurance for truck, bus companies

Rep Steve. Daines said increasing insurance requirements for small trucking and bus companies would jeopardize the jobs those companies provide. (The Trucker file photo)

The Trucker News Services

6/11/2014

WASHINGTON —  The House of Representatives Tuesday tacked an amendment on the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development Appropriations Act that would prohibit the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration from moving forward with any action that would increase insurance requirements for truck and bus companies.

Rep. Steve Daines, R-Minn., who introduced the amendment, said higher insurance requirements would greatly increase costs for small businesses and jeopardize the jobs they provide.

The entire bill passed 229-192 and is now headed to the Senate. Daines' amendment passed 214-212.

“The small businesses that make up the majority of the truck and bus industries not only provide jobs for thousands of Americans, they play an important role in moving goods and people and supporting our economy,” Daines said. “It flies in the face of common sense to put people’s livelihoods at risk without any evidence that it would improve the safety of our roads or better meet the needs of catastrophic accident victims. I’m glad the House joined me in supporting this measure to protect small businesses and the jobs they provide.”

In April, the FMCSA announced that it would move forward with a rulemaking to increase the amount of liability coverage. The current required $750,000 of primary liability coverage could be raised to as high as $4 million of primary liability coverage. This comes despite findings by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) that less than 0.2 percent of truck-involved accidents result in property and personal injury damages that exceed current minimum liability coverage requirements, Daines said.

According to Daines, it is estimated that the FMCSA’s rulemaking action could increase insurance premiums by more than four times their current levels and by as much as 60 percent for bus operators. Small businesses, which make up the majority of these industries, would be impacted the most by the increases, as they would face the full brunt of higher premiums.

Daines’ amendment is supported by the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, United Motorcoach Association, National School Transportation Association and American Bus Association.

In a letter supporting the amendment, those organizations noted: “The higher premiums will impact single truck and bus owners the most, where higher operating costs lead to less take-home pay. Increases of this magnitude are unaffordable, and will simply force many out of the industry altogether. Making matters worse, an increase is not backed up by data … No study has shown that higher insurance requirements will result in improved safety performance of a motor carrier.”

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

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