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FMCSA’s work to raise liability insurance minimums hinges on these questions

Is the current amount of “financial responsibility” — liability insurance, essentially — for carriers too low?

[related-post id=”108115″/]That’s a question the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has been grappling with since an April-issued report by the agency concluded, yes, the amount is insufficient and that many crashes run well above the current $750,000 minimum.

Trucking groups like the American Trucking Associations and the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Associations, however, contend that just 1 percent of all trucking-related crashes exceed the minimum, therefore making it impractical to impose an increase and the probable burden of increased premiums on motor carriers.

As part of a potential rulemaking to increase the minimum, the agency published Nov. 26 a list of 26 questions it hopes to have answered by carriers – both fleets and owner-operators.

[related-post id=”107397″/]The agency published the questions as an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, aimed at gathering industry input on the issue before proceeding with any rulemaking.

Carriers have until Feb. 26 to offer their formal input on the regulations.gov portal (click here to submit your comment), but here are some of the topics and questions the agency is seeking trucking’s input on:

Premiums:

-What are the current rates for carriers currently? And how do they vary based on FMCSA’s safety ratings?

-How much would premiums increase for each 10 percent increase in the liability insurance coverage?

-What percentage of fleets have coverage currently above the current minimums?

Current insurance levels:

[related-post id=”96517″/]-How often do crashes exceed the current minimums? And how often are carriers liable for the costs exceeding those minimums? Do these crashes cause carriers to go bankrupt?

Impacts of increasing insurance coverage:

-Would the effects of an increase be disparate for smaller carriers relative to larger ones?

-Would an increase affect carriers’ ability to obtain insurance?

-Would increasing minimums affect carriers’ investment in safety programs, preventive maintenance or investing in technology?

Timeline:

-What’s a reasonable phase-in period if FMCSA does increase the minimum coverage amounts?

-Should there be a process for updating the minimum in the future using inflation metrics? And how often should it be updated?

Self-insurance:

-Should the agency enhance the requirement for carriers that self-insure to have “adequate safety programs”?

To give FMCSA your input on these questions and more, click here.

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James Jaillet is the News Editor for CCJ and Overdrive. Reach him at jjaillet@randallreilly.com.