House clears bill amendment to stop FMCSA from raising carrier insurance minimums

| June 10, 2014

Continuing Congressional action of late to try to rein in some Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration regulatory activities, the U.S. House voted June 9 to add an amendment to its version of an annual DOT funding bill to stop the agency from increasing the minimum amount of liability insurance carriers must have.

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FMCSA announced earlier this year its intentions to increase the current $750,000 minimum, saying it has not kept up with inflation since being set at that level in 1985. The Department of Transportation said in its most recent significant rulemakings report that the agency could publish a proposed rule as early as November to raise that amount.

The Transportation, Housing and Urban Development bill provides funding for the DOT for the 2015 fiscal year. Both chambers of Congress have a version of the bill in the pipeline. The Senate version includes an amendment to suspend some of the 34-hour restart provisions of the 2013 hours of service rule, along with language that directs FMCSA to publish a final electronic logging device rule by January 2015 and to publish a proposed Safety Fitness Determination rule by December. Click here to read more on the Senate version. 

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FMCSA said in a report issued earlier this year that if the $750,000 minimum liability insurance amount had kept up with the core consumer price index, a measure of inflation, it would be $1.62 million. If it had kept pace with the medical consumer price index, it would be $3.18 million.

Both the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association and the American Trucking Associations reject the agency’s claims that the current minimum needs changing, citing studies that show just 1 percent of all crashes exceed $750,000 in claims.

The amendment to halt the agency’s rulemaking came from Rep. Steve Daines (R-Mont.). If the House bill becomes law with the amendment included, it would “prohibit the use of funds to develop, issue or implement regulations that increase levels of minimum financial responsibility for transporting passengers or property as in effect Jan. 1, 2014.” 

Neither the House nor the Senate have passed their respective bills yet.

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