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Bill would increase truck insurance policy limits for the first time in 33 years for catastrophic truck accident victims

September 6, 2013 by Steven M. Gursten

commercial truck insurance limits

I recently wrote about the dire need to raise insurance limits for commercial trucks and all other commercial motor carriers. I didn’t write this to be self-serving. Although yes, I am a lawyer who helps people injured in truck accidents and many of the people I’ve helped and will help will directly benefit from this.

But I also strongly support this legislation because doing so would REDUCE the number of truck accidents  throughout the entire country. In fact, raising insurance policy limits for big commercial trucks would be one of the best and most direct measures we can do to increase safety immediately – before people ever need a lawyer.

Currently, commercial trucks must carry a minimum insurance policy of $750,000 under the Federal Motor Carrier Safety rules (FMSCRs). This limit hasn’t been increased in more than 30 years to account for inflation and the devastation that occurs when innocent drivers’ lives are shattered by negligent trucking companies.

As I said before, increasing insurance limits for trucks increases safety because it would deter trucking companies from cutting safety corners in exchange for a bigger bottom line. It forces the insurance companies who insure trucking companies to take a hard second look, and to evaluate the safety records more thoroughly than they do today, when the minimum insurance limits for commercial trucks is limited to $750,000.

A bill proposed by U.S. Rep. Matt Cartwright would adjust the $750,000 insurance limit for motor carriers to $4.4 million to account for inflation relating to medical care. The bill is called H.R. 2730: Safe And Fair Environment on Highways Achieved through Underwriting Levels Act of 2013.

To put the current $750,000 limit into perspective: Many truck accident victims with catastrophic injuries (and our own clients) incur $750,000 in medical bills within a few short months. They receive nothing, even when their lives are ripped away from them by a truck company’s sheer disregard for safety.

If Cartwright’s bill becomes law, dangerous truck companies that do not follow the mandatory safety laws that threaten everyone on the roads, and companies that cause too many trucking crashes, would face higher insurance premiums. In some cases, based upon the safety record of the company involved, these premiums would be much higher. But this puts the efficient market theory to work to increase safety.  It efficiently puts the market to work by punishing unsafe companies and rewarding good ones with lower insurance premiums, because they represent lower risk.

Safe companies that follow the rules that keep others safe would have a competitive advantage to the companies that have poor safety records – instead of the current disadvantage that these good companies have now.  It would stop overnight the practice of unsafe companies that save money by skipping important safety measures from underbidding the companies that pay more for safe drivers and who do perform mandatory maintenance on brakes and tires.

That sounds like a measure that everyone could get behind.

Related information:

Truck accident tips & checklists: What you need to know now

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