Should the Minimum Insurance Requirements for Trucks Be Raised?

Jun 08, 2021 Truck Accidents

Posted by: Kisling, Nestico & Redick, LLC

Right now, Congress and the trucking industry are arguing over the insurance requirements for their vehicles. Many feel the insurance limits for truckers are too low and insufficient to help anyone catastrophically injured in a truck wreck. On the other hand, the trucking industry believes the current limits should stay where they are, arguing an increase wouldn’t improve safety.

At KNR, our Ohio truck accident lawyers understand what’s involved with such a change, but we appreciate how devastating these accidents can be. We hope this provides some clarity about the issue, especially if you’re pursuing compensation after a severe truck accident.

Minimum Insurance Requirements for Trucks

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration requires commercial vehicles to carry:

  • $300,000 for non-hazardous cargo in vehicles under 10,000 pounds
  • $750,000 for non-hazardous cargo in vehicles over 10,001 pounds
  • $1 million for oil moved by for-hire and private carriers
  • $5 million for other hazardous materials moved by for-hire and private carriers

These are the bare minimum requirements. Trucking companies and owner-operators can purchase insurance with higher limits. They can also purchase other insurance coverage, such as cargo, physical damage, bobtail, medical payment, uninsured/underinsurance motorist, and reefer breakdown coverage.

Why Truckers Have Higher Insurance Requirements

Most people don’t realize that semi-trucks can weigh up to 80,000 pounds. However, the average weight of a car in 2021 is 4,094 pounds, according to AutoList. Compact cars can weigh closer to 2,500 pounds. Compared to a semi-truck, the average family vehicle is small and light.

The size difference between cars and commercial trucks is significant. If a semi crashes into a car, the damage is substantial. In many collisions, the truck totals the car and severely injures its occupants. They may suffer catastrophic injuries, which means they become disabled and unable to work. Grave injuries also can lead to death in the days or weeks after the crash.

The high insurance requirements compensate individuals seriously or catastrophically injured in a collision caused by a negligent trucker or trucking company.

There may be more than one severely injured individual who needs compensation to cover tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars of medical expenses, lost wages, and future care. And that’s before considering the victims’ physical pain and suffering, emotional distress, and mental anguish, which they should also be compensated for.

House Committee Approved Proposed Increase

Mid-2020, the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee approved an amendment in the INVEST in America Act that would increase the minimum liability insurance requirement for commercial vehicles from $750,000 to $2 million.

The current $750,000 requirement was established in 1980, according to Representative Jesus “Chuy” Garcia (D-Ill.). Since then, neither Congress nor the FMCSA has adjusted the amount for inflation. He and other members of Congress are concerned the minimum policy requirement isn’t enough to compensate victims of truck accidents who suffer catastrophic injuries.

Trucking Associations Opposes Increase

Both the American Trucking Association and the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association oppose increasing the minimum insurance limit. Sean McNally, ATA vice president of communications, went so far as to call it an “arbitrary increase.” The OOIDA says it could put owner-operators out of business.

Rep. Mike Bost (R-Ill.) called the possible increase a punishment against U.S. truckers. In 2020, Bost offered up an amendment that would remove the insurance increase provision from the INVEST in America Act. However, the committee rejected Bost’s amendment with a 38 to 30 vote, which means the increase remains possible.

What Comes Next for the INVEST in America Act?

The committee approved the INVEST in America Act, which will go to the House floor next. This current bill, HR 3684, is similar to one passed in the House in 2020 that died in the Senate.

Make the Most of Commercial Truck Insurance Limits

When a negligent truck driver or commercial motor carrier was at fault, you can still pursue compensation from their exiting, sizeable insurance policy. We know this provides little comfort if you or a loved one are severely injured. But, on a practical level, it improves your chance of being made whole again and recovering what you need.

The best way to assess your situation and what to expect after a truck wreck is to consult a lawyer experienced with truck accidents caused by negligence.

Call KNR Today

KNR has decades of experience and well-documented history of maximizing recoveries. If you’re ready to talk, call KNR at (800) 487-8669 or reach out online. Your initial consultation is free, and you only pay us if you recover compensation.

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