Liability insurance limit protections in highway bill under attack

By Jami Jones, Land Line managing editor | Tuesday, November 03, 2015

A pair of lawmakers are prepared to offer amendments to the House’s version of a long-term highway bill that if accepted and signed into law could pave the way for unnecessary increases to liability insurance requirements on trucking companies.

Currently the U.S. House of Representatives is preparing for consideration of the Surface Transportation Reauthorization and Reform Act of 2015, or the STRR Act of 2015. The bill, along with an attempt to fund the infrastructure, will also outline Congressional mandates on transportation agencies.

In the base bill passed out of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, two sections, 5501 and 5503, provide protections against unjustified increases to liability insurance requirements on trucking companies.

Sections 5501 and 5503 of the Surface Transportation Reauthorization and Reform Act of 2015 – or STRR Act for short – work in tandem to make sure FMCSA has adequately researched and proven that an increase to the liability insurance requirements on truckers will improve highway safety.

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association is opposed to any increase in the current liability insurance requirements.

OOIDA has pointed to FMCSA’s own research showing that more than 99.7 percent of all crashes are more than adequately covered by the current $750,000 requirement. In addition, the Association says all of the research and attempts at justifying an increase have not proven that the roads will actually be safer. All attempts are purely economically motivated, the Association leadership says.

OOIDA’s Government Affairs team has learned of two possible amendments that could be offered to strip the protections against unnecessary liability insurance increases in the highway bill. One will be offered by Rep. Lois Frankel, D-Fla., and another by Rep. Hank Johnson, D-Ga.

OOIDA issued a Call to Action to its membership asking for them to call their members of the U.S. House of Representatives and encourage their lawmakers to support Sections 5501 and 5503 and to block any amendments offered to remove those provisions.

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