House passes amendment freezing insurance minimums; vote on full bill later Tuesday night

By Jami Jones, Land Line managing editor | Tuesday, June 10, 2014

A move to increase the minimum required insurance carried on trucks in the trucking industry could very well be put on hold after the U.S. House of Representatives passed an amendment Tuesday afternoon prohibiting any increase in fiscal year 2015.

The amendment, sponsored by Rep. Steve Daines R-Mont., and co-sponsored by Rep. Sam Graves, R-Mo., seeks to prohibit the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration from initiating a rulemaking that would increase the minimum required insurance on trucks in the industry.

The full House voted 214-212 on the amendment Tuesday afternoon, which added the amendment to the House’s version of the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development appropriations bill – dubbed the THUD bill.

The House is expected to vote on the full THUD bill later Tuesday evening.

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association has been a staunch opponent to any move to increase the minimum levels above the current levels.

The Association was part of an alliance that lobbied in support of the Daines-Graves amendment. The alliance pointed that while FMCSA’s own study found that less than 0.2 percent of truck-involved accidents result in damages that exceed higher insurance requirements, there are no studies that show higher insurance requirements result in improved safety performance.

“First and foremost, we appreciate the hard work of our members as they reached out to their lawmakers this issue. Special thanks to Congressman Daines and Congressman Graves and their staff for offering the amendment and working it through the process,” said OOIDA Director of Government Affairs Ryan Bowley.

The amendment, if passed into law with the full THUD bill, would prohibit the FMCSA from spending any funding to develop, issue or implement regulations that increase the insurance minimums. The amendment would freeze the minimum requirements at the current levels of $750,000 for interstate commerce and $1 million for hazmat haulers.

Daines and Graves encouraged support of their amendment to fellow members of the House in a “Dear Colleague” letter. The letter pointed out that less than 0.2 percent of truck-involved wrecks have property and injury damages that exceed the current minimum insurance requirements.

In spite of that very small number, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has pledged to pursue an increase in the required insurance by starting a rulemaking later this year.

The increase, proposed to be more than $4 million per truck, threatens to increase insurance premiums as much as four times and could likely lead to more than 40 percent of the current motor carriers going out of business, according to the Daines-Graves Dear Colleague letter.

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