Tag Archives: minimum insurance

FMCSA will withdraw rule to raise truck min. liability ins. Who is responsible & who will pay the price?

Please pray for us to have wisdom on how to respond to the upcoming action (on Monday, June 5, 2017) by the DOT/FMCSA to WITHDRAW RULEMAKING on trucking minimum liability insurance  — which has not been raised in over 30 years.

This issue is one of the three #trucksafety issues which we included in our 2014 AnnaLeah & Mary Stand Up For Truck Safety Petition. FMCSA responded with rulemaking in November 2014. The 11,000+ petition signatures were added to the Public Comments for this Proposed Rule.

The AnnaLeah & Mary Stand Up For Truck Safety Petition: http://www.thepetitionsite.com/957/501/869/stand-up-for-truck-safety/

The signtures were posted on the Federal Register hereThe is a Comment on the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) Proposed Rule: Financial Responsibility for Motor Carriers, Freight Forwarders and Brokers: AnnaLeah and Mary Karth – Comments

Articles on this upcoming action:

  1. FMCSA Yanks Minimum Insurance Rulemaking, Heavy Duty Trucking, Truckinginfo.com, David Cullen, June 2, 2017
  2. FMCSA officially nixes rule on increasing minimum liability insurance required for carriers, Overdrive|June 02, 2017
  3. FMCSA Drops Plans to Study Raising Insurance Minimums for Motor Carriers, Brokers  This article even mentions that our 11,366 petition signatures were included in the Public Comments considered by FMCSA .
Who bears responsibility for this decades-long delay?
  1. The trucking industry for acting to delay progress on this important issue.
  2. FMCSA for not using their authority to subpoena the insurance industry to provide the necessary information for the required cost/benefit analysis.
  3. The insurance industry for not providing the requested information.
  4. The Secretary of Transportation for not using his/her authority to sign in an increase — as was originally intended.
  5. Congress for not acting to make sure that this issue is properly addressed.
  6. The President for not signing a Vision Zero Executive Order to ensure that safety rules are not delayed or diluted by cost/benefit analysis that does not give appropriate value to the preservation of human life and health.

See the April 2014 FMCSA Report on this issue: https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/sites/fmcsa.dot.gov/files/docs/Financial-Responsibility-Requirements-Report-Enclosure-FINAL-April%202014.pdf

Read more about this issue here:

Fortunately we plan on submitting a public comment to the upcoming FMCSA Motor Carrier Safety Advisory Committee public meeting on June 12 in D.C.

Despite our requests for Congress to hold a hearing to force the insurance industry to provide the necessary financial information, no one has been willing to do this. As Jerry says, it is a very one-sided situation: The FMCSA is apparently accepting the information that the rates will sky-rocket and trucking companies will go out of business  — although no one has been able to offer proof of this. At the same time, the FMCSA is apparently not accepting the proof that the current liability level is not adequate to cover the costs to society of these truck crashes.

Furthermore, this issue not only impacts the compensation for truck crash tragedies to the victims and the cost to society, but it also limits the ability of the market to ensure that trucking companies are held accountable for their safety practices.

 What will break through this roadblock?

Insightful Commentary on the State of Trucking Minimum Liability Insurance by a victim’s family member

Minimum Insurance infographic

What do you think about the tug of war over trucking minimum liability insurance? Should it or should it not be raised after 35 years? Before you decide, read this commentary by a family member of a truck crash victim (Michelle Novak):

Michelle Novak 🙁https://www.facebook.com/groups/494507530713925/permalink/548460131985331/)

“Not one single penny increase. It’s “purchasing power” is almost zero, and this is money that has to be disbursed among survivors of wrecks, whether one or thirty—they split the $750,000… After lawyer fees, first in line are the—get this—insurance company lawyers! They get free taken out of this survival money for victims, for emergency room lifesaving, surgeries, helicopter flights, ambulances, ICU, etc…even though those same lawyers are paid by the insurance company. They don’t shop around to find a lawyer who will handle passing out the money. These are lawyers who are part of these gigantic insurance behemoth. And after all the first responders line up for their cut to cover….responding to a truck crash, repairing roads and guardrail, hazmat responses, putting out fires, using the jaws of life to extract victims, police presence, etc…,

“Now. Imagine 15 victims, fine fatalities and ten injuries, nine damaged vehicles, on top of all this. Victims were airlifted, all were treated, and one needed heroic efforts and now a lifetime of care, has become disabled. ..there is so much in one complex wreck, it works be almost impossible to calculate cost. Doesn’t matter. Can’t sue the insurance company for knowingly covering a driver with a ten-year history of lawbreaking with his truck, leading to this crash. Can’t sue the govt agencies that simply didn’t bother dreaming with him and enforcing the laws it is tasked with enforcing. And the company is a one-truck operation that files for bankruptcy the day after the crash.

“$750,000 ….minus all those players. That is, of course actually nothing, which is why victims end up with medical liens placed on everything they own or ever might own, and are in debt the rest of their lives, on top of the injury, the death of their loved ones.

“Now Imagine your killed loved one wasn’t actually moving when the wreck happened. He wasn’t even allowed to move. An accident up ahead. Traffic stopped. Ever other citizen duly stopped, as required by law.except the sound asleep truck driver with the forged medical certificate, the black-market purchased commercial license, the falsified log books, the fact that though he was exhausted, he drove right by the last truck rest s stop only a mile or so before he plowed right into that liner of stopped cars, ripping apart five human beings as he went.

“$750,000 in an industry that capitalizes on carrying insurance from over thirty years ago, with insurers who are shielded from civil suit, which means they don’t have any responsibility for knowingly, or not even bothering to find out, if the drivers they profit off of are horrible risks or not. And why should they? The most they could possibly lose,no matter how many laws the driver broke, no matter how habitual a lawbreakers the driver is, and no matter how many lives he destroys, is $750,000…

“How fantastic to be in a risk-based industry, covering bets on risk, and not even needing the actual insurance model to guarantee profit. How great to be able to figure your maximum costs based on the number of drivers insured, knowing that you’ll never be dragged into court, never be called to answer for insuring lousy drivers along with good…..how profitable to be able to charge those drivers more based on risk, without ever having to pass that magic, chiseled-into-stone level of $750,000…that is a custom-made giant profit machine, if ever there was one.

“If anyone else happens to read this…..if you haven’t had to experience this reality yet personally, please do your best to picture it. It can be your reality in the blink of an eye: your never-ending injustice that you get to live every day, knowing that these insurance execs, CEO s, shareholders, all walk away oblivious to what this setup, that they don’t mind spending good lobbying money on, does to not only its victims, but the entire society of taxpayers who must pick up the costs for every one of the parties listed earlier, because the cost has to be paid.

“There are ways to raise this to appropriate levels, while still spreading out cost among drivers and those very rich insurance companies, and the very rich gigantic retail, warehousing and shipping firms that make constant use of their trucks.

“We’ll get a plan hammered out, at some point. And then we’ll push it until the entire industry shares the costs of risk. When they finally all share it, you’ll be amazed at how quickly they straighten all this out…and these nightmares will stop.

“They don’t do anything out of kindness, citizenship duties, or any altruism. You have to make it hurt their only source of feeling: the gigantic pile of wealth they amass at the expense of their victims.”

Chuck Novak’s crash: http://www.truckaccidentlaw.org/blog/3363/driver-faces-multiple-charges-in-deadly-north-carolina-truck-accident/ &  http://www.blueridgenow.com/article/20101027/articles/101029886

Read more posts on this topic:  http://annaleahmary.com/tag/minimum-liability-insurance/

Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association brochure of services

This OOIDA brochure describes their benefits and services. I picked it up at a truck stop while on a road trip. Note the truck driver insurance & minimum liability.

OOIDA brochure

Face-to-face with our congressman, George Holding, to discuss truck safety concerns

photo with George Holding

Earlier this month, I met with Congressman George Holding’s Constituent Services Representative, Doug Wegman, in Sharpsburg, North Carolina. I was the only one at the “Town Hall meeting” and was able to share the story of our truck crash and some of our concerns about truck safety. It seemed like a productive meeting.

I had emailed Congressman Holding’s office in June asking for an opportunity to meet with him while he was in recess in North Carolina. That never came about until I emailed my contact again early this week and repeated my request. I was then asked if I could meet with him in Raleigh on Friday, August 21, at 11:00 a.m.

Actually, that worked out very well (couldn’t have planned it better myself) because I was dropping our son off at the airport to go back to college in Texas that morning and then proceeded to the meeting with Holding. Doug Wegman was also there along with Holding’s District Director, Alice McCall.

I shared with Congressman Holding that I had grown up as a Republican and was quite surprised after our crash to find out that, in general, the Republican party line related to truck safety legislation consistently appeared to be pro-trucking industry and anti-safety. I am puzzled why there cannot be bipartisan solutions to these issues.

http://annaleahmary.com/2014/07/truck-safety-needs-bipartisan-support-protecting-its-citizens-is-one-of-the-basic-purposes-of-government/

His response — a typical one — was that Republicans generally oppose government involvement and regulation. The problem I have with that is the reality which I have painfully discovered that “safety is not an accident” — it doesn’t just happen by itself. Without rules and regulations and enforcement and justice and requirements, chaos and injury and death are more likely to occur.

At least I have not seen a better alternative. Have you?

However, thankfully, I came away from the meeting feeling that it was productive — a thought echoed by another son who attended with me. We had the opportunity to raise several truck safety concerns, including driver fatigue (electronic logging devices and hours of service), underride guards, and the minimum liability insurance for truckers.

We concentrated on the minimum insurance issue — which has not been raised — for 30 years and therefore certainly has not kept up with inflation. (Is that any surprise?!) The current level, $750,000, set in in the 1980s — adjusted for inflation — would now be more like $3.2 million for  the medical CPI adjusted level according to p. 11 from this document:  http://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/sites/fmcsa.dot.gov/files/docs/Financial-Responsibility-Requirements-Report-Enclosure-FINAL-April%202014.pdf .

And the statistical value of life is $9.2 millionVSL Guidance-2013-2 DOT value of life

I had a binder put together to leave with Congressman Holding. It had numerous articles about the insurance issue, including what the opposition (the trucking industry) has been saying about premiums skyrocketing if the minimum liability is raised — from $5,000 to $20,000. I showed him what I had found out from a couple of insurance companies which indicates that it would be more likely to go up to maybe $9,000. A bit of a difference.

This kind of potentially inaccurate and misleading information has been publicly disseminated and has influenced many truckers (most vociferously by representatives of OOIDA, Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, which by the way happens to sell insurance to truckers,  http://www.ooidatruckinsurance.com/) and legislators. In fact, I showed him the House Roll Call in which he had voted to freeze the funding for FMCSA to study this issue — even though Congress had previously authorized them to do so.

I was gratified that Holding took the time to look over the roll call and examine the 10 Republicans who had supported the need to allow FMCSA to proceed with rulemaking on this issue. He indicated that he intends to make some contacts for us, asked Doug to write down some of the names and the people both in the Senate and House with whom he is willing to connect us so that we can continue to shed light on this concern and ensure that the truth of the matter is uncovered.

I was also appreciative of the District Director’s input. When we discussed our pursuit of underride research to support the improvement of underride guards, Alice McCall mentioned that they could help with some contacts at universities, among other things.

In addition, she asked me how to pronounce AnnaLeah’s name (An-na-Le-ah) and said that it was beautiful. I told her that AnnaLeah loved her name and its uniqueness–although she had planned on publishing any written works under a pen name. I had showed them Mary’s braids and said that I was thankful that the nurse saved them and gave them to us. I had also brought along a shoulder bag which AnnaLeah had knit from a pattern in her head.

It reminded me of the many triggers which daily life brings of the loss we bear; as we drove to Raleigh I had seen a car on the side of the road. There was something sitting on top of the trunk of the car and for some reason that reminded me of our car after the crash — demolished with broken bodies inside. And it took my breath away once more to think of AnnaLeah’s life instantly snatched away. And the joy and creativity that were abruptly cut short.

http://annaleahmary.com/2015/05/my-favorite-memories-of-annaleah-well-some-of-them/

Alice also mentioned that she has several daughters. And, I had noted that Congressman Holding has 3 young daughters and a son himself. It is helpful to know that people understand that this is not just a matter of corporate profit but a life and death matter which could happen to anyone at any time.

Interesting articles, letters, and documents on the minimum insurance topic:

All in all, we felt that we were heard and are hopeful that Congressman Holding is likely to make decisions and take actions in the future to positively affect road safety as a result of the time which we spent with him.

p.s. Just read an Op-Ed (by a former executive of the American Trucking Associations) in today’s New York Timeshttp://www.nytimes.com/2015/08/22/opinion/the-trucks-are-killing-us.html?emc=edit_tnt_20150821&nlid=37926955&tntemail0=y&_r=0

p.p.s. Just scanned this OOIDA brochure–found at a truck stop while we were on a road trip.

OOIDA brochure

 

p.p.p.s. Mary’s braids: 49 Mary's braids 016

p.p.p.p.s. AnnaLeah knitting one of her many creations. AnnaLeah at Lake Michigan 11

“Grieving family’s tireless efforts paying off,” by Brie Handgraaf

A reporter from Rocky Mount has been following our story since we got back to North Carolina in May 2013 after the crash. She published an article in today’s Rocky Mount Telegram following the recent Advance Notice of Public Rulemaking for rear underride protection on Single Unit Trucks–encouraging readers to write a Public Comment and make a difference.

“Grieving family’s tireless efforts paying off,” By Brie Handgraaf, Staff Writer,

Monday, August 3, 2015

https://www.rockymounttelegram.com/news/grieving-family8217s-tireless-efforts-paying-2947611

Thanks, Brie!

The Public can Comment on the rulemaking here: http://tinyurl.com/oxfgovj

Other articles by Brie Handgraaf:

Picture 667

ELDs for Trucker Hours; Minimum Liability; & Underride Guards: AL&MSUFTS Petition Update

AnnaLeah & Mary Stand Up For Truck Safety Petition

Petition Request

Current Rulemaking Stage

Electronic Logging Devices (ELDs)

The Petition’s 11,000+ signatures were added to the Public Comments for the Electronic Logging Device Rule.  The comment period ended May 27, 2014.

Final Rule is scheduled to be published by 9/30/15.

Companies would then have 2 years from that date to comply.

Minimum Liability Insurance

ANPRM was issued on 11/28/14 meaning: FMCSA announced that it is considering a rulemaking that would increase the minimum levels of financial responsibility for motor carriers.

https://www.federalregister.gov/articles/2014/11/28/2014-28076/financial-responsibility-for-motor-carriers-freight-forwarders-and-brokers

Public Comments closed on 2/26/15.

Those Comments are now being reviewed.

Trucking industry has attempted to get an amendment passed this summer on the THUD Appropriations Bill which would take away funding from FMCSA for continuing the rulemaking process.

Underride Guards

Based on the petition, available information, and the agency’s analysis in progress, NHTSA has decided that the Petitioners’ request related to rear impact guards merits further consideration. Therefore, the agency grants the Petitioners’ request to initiate rulemaking on rear impact guards. NHTSA is planning on issuing two separate notices—an advanced notice of proposed rulemaking pertaining to rear impact guards and other safety strategies for single unit trucks, and a notice of proposed rulemaking focusing on rear impact guards on trailers and semitrailers. NHTSA is still evaluating the Petitioners’ request to improve side guards and front override guards and will issue a separate decision on those aspects of the petition at a later date.

Proposed Rulemaking was issued for rear impact guards on tractor-trailers on July 10, 2014. This is the rulemaking stage in which an agency proposes to add to or change its existing regulations and solicits public comment on this proposal. Recommendations for revision of existing regulations are expected to be issued for Public Comments before the end of 2015.

https://www.federalregister.gov/articles/2014/07/10/2014-16018/federal-motor-vehicle-safety-standards-rear-impact-guards-rear-impact-protection

The Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) for Single Unit Trucks was issued on 7/23/15, with the Public Comments Period closing on September 21, 2015. This will be followed by an analysis of the Comments and a determination about whether or not, or how best, to initiate a rulemaking.

http://www.regulations.gov/#!docketBrowser;rpp=25;po=0;D=NHTSA-2015-0070

Here is an outline of the rulemaking process:  https://www.federalregister.gov/uploads/2011/01/the_rulemaking_process.pdf

Update on Electronic Logging Devices: “FMCSA advances e-log mandate, rule sent to OMB for approval”

http://www.overdriveonline.com/fmcsa-advances-e-log-mandate-rule-sent-to-omb-for-approval/

This means that the Electronic Logging Devices rule could be going into effect by September 30 and the industry would have to comply with it within two years.

“Still seemingly on target for its projected Sept. 30 publication, a Final Rule to mandate the use of electronic logging devices has been sent from the DOT to the White House’s Office of Management and Budget for final approval before being published.

The DOT’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration sent the e-log rule to the OMB July 30, along with a Final Rule that will implement stiffer penalties for carriers, shippers, brokers and others who coerce or pressure drivers to not abide by federal safety standards like hours-of-service limits.

The OMB legally has 90 days to approve the rules or send them back to FMCSA to be changed, which is unlikely.

The rule, which will take effect two years following its publication in the Federal Register, will require all truck drivers who are required to keep records of duty status to use an electronic logging device, formerly known as electronic onboard recorders.”

Battle over Truckers’ Hours of Servicehttp://www.overdriveonline.com/report-fmcsa-cant-effectively-study-2013-hours-of-service-safety-conclusions-likely-skewed/

“In responding to the report, the DOT noted the GAO had recognized achievements associated with the hours rule: A decrease in the frequency of long work schedules, lower risk of driver fatigue generally, and reduced fatal truck crashes. It agreed with the GAO recommendation to adopt guidance outlining research standards for future analyses and promised a detailed response to the entire effort within the next 60 days.”

Petition Photo Bags at DOT, best

 

Ralph Nader: “Enough! Stop More Giant Truck-Trailers on Your Highways”

Ralph Nader speaks up about the battle for truck safety, calling for citizens to speak up for safer highways–a matter of life & death.

Read more here & see how you can help:  https://blog.nader.org/2015/07/02/enough-stop-more-giant-truck-trailers-on-your-highways/

Rebekah photo of crash

 

Contact Information for U.S. Senators:  http://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm?OrderBy=state

Contact Information for U.S. House of Representatives:  http://www.house.gov/representatives/

See previous posts for Congress contact information:

Please use the icons below to SHARE this call for action.

 

Tug of War over truck/highway safety: Something’s wrong with this picture!

Two years ago a truck crash killed our two youngest daughters, AnnaLeah (17) and Mary (13).

One year ago, we garnered over 11,000 signatures on a petition asked Secretary Foxx to advance 3 measures to improve factors related to safety on our roads.

We have seen step-by-step progress toward our goals but get concerned when we see signs that a tug of war continues over this life & death battle.

“Two Different THUD Bills Set Up Congressional Showdown on Trucking Issues” http://www.landlinemag.com/Story.aspx?StoryId=29323#.VZUr1_lViko

  • In our AnnaLeah & Mary Stand Up For Truck Safety Petition, we asked for Electronic Logging Devices to be required as soon as possible due to our concern about the impact of Driving While Fatigued (DWF) on truck drivers’ ability to respond in emergency situations (e.g., in work zones or when traffic is backed up due to a crash ahead–as in our case) http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2014-10-01/mom-takes-on-truckers-after-highway-wreck-kills-daughters
  • Yet, there is still opposition to this method of keeping track of the hours that drivers are behind the wheel (paper log books are a joke, not considered reliable, & never shown to us after our crash).
  • From that report on the THUD Bills: “The House version also chose not to expedite mandates for electronic logging devices or speed limiters, which – like the insurance issue – are items opposed by OOIDA and small-business truckers but supported by large carriers and the American Trucking Associations.” – See more at: http://www.landlinemag.com/Story.aspx?StoryId=29323#.VZUr1_lViko
  • You’ve got to be kidding!
  • In our petition, we also asked for increases in minimum liability insurance for truckers–currently at $750,000 for over 35 years.
  • This, too, is being opposed. Read what that article said, “The House of Representatives has already passed its version of HR2577 for Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (THUD). That occurred on June 9. OOIDA and small-business truckers won a victory in that version because it contained language to prohibit the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration from pursuing an increase to insurance requirements for motor carriers.” – See more at: http://www.landlinemag.com/Story.aspx?StoryId=29323#.VZUr1_lViko
  • At least there is some hope for moving the insurance issue forward, “Specific to the insurance issue, the Senate version says FMCSA may continue pursuing an increase to insurance requirements, but only if the Department of Transportation secretary reports to the Appropriations Committee about the effects of raising the financial responsibility. The report would have to include an assessment of crashes that exceed the damage limits and assess the effects of higher insurance premiums on large and small motor carriers.”While hardly a glowing endorsement for increasing insurance requirements, the Senate version of HR2577 does not prohibit an increase as the House version does.” – See more at: http://www.landlinemag.com/Story.aspx?StoryId=29323#.VZUr1_lViko
  • See what I found out on estimated liability insurance rates if the minimum is raised: http://annaleahmary.com/2015/06/uncovering-new-information-on-trucking-minimum-liability-insurance-rates/

And while I’m at it, here are some other things going on with truck safety:

  1. “Tractor-trailer hitches could be faulty, 6,000 may be in use”  http://bigstory.ap.org/article/b9a33284cb604dc79f7e7d8ecd3c18ef/tractor-trailer-hitches-could-be-faulty-6000-may-be-use
  2. “Senator Goes After Reform of FMCSA” http://www.landlinemag.com/Story.aspx?StoryID=29305#.VZUqSPlViko     Comment by Steve Bixler
    “I applaud Sen. Fischer for her work on this bill. I have been saying for years, and hopefully it can be added to this or another bill soon, that what we need is a panel of veteran truck drivers, not company executives or industry stakeholders, but the actual guy who has his butt in the seat everyday, to oversee and review all existing FMCSA Regs, and also to be a part of all new regulation writing, so we can finally get rules and regs that are actually about safety and not money.”

Something’s wrong with this picture! When will it end?

Let’s make sure that it is not just about $.

And let’s not just point our finger at someone else to take the blame. Let’s figure out what we can do to end this senseless, tragic heartache happening on our roads. Let’s work together.

We Rescue Jesus Saves 018

Safety Is Not A Priority

Uncovering new information on Trucking Minimum Liability Insurance Rates

After numerous phone calls and emails, I have finally been able to find someone who could give me a rough estimate of the premiums which a trucking company might be able to expect if the minimum liability gets increased from $750,000 to $4.2 million. In fact, two people–unbeknownst to each other–referred me to this man, who is the president of an independent insurance agency.

I spoke with him yesterday and explained to him the kind of information that I was looking for and why I was doing so.  I let him know that I have been trying to verify whether there was any truth to the “early estimates” which I have been reading about and that it was important to me to know whether what truckers and Congress were being told was accurate. Specifically, is it accurate that a current premium of $5,000/year could skyrocket to $20,000/year?

He then described to me the graduated system of premium rates–which I had previously heard of through John Lannen: http://annaleahmary.com/2015/06/the-future-of-trucking-who-pays-for-the-costs-of-safer-roads/ John Lannen, executive director of the Truck Safety Coalition, has shared background information with us which he has gathered from numerous sources, presentations, and conversations regarding the economics of additional insurance coverage for motor carriers.  It turns out that the first million dollars’ worth of  trucking insurance is the most expensive and each incremental amount is cheaper. . . . ” (For more details, go here: http://annaleahmary.com/2015/06/trucking-minimum-liability-insurance-trucker-wages-a-facebook-conversation/ )”

After speaking with him, I immediately proceeded to email him and document what I had heard him tell me over the phone. I asked him to verify the accuracy of my description. Here is my email to him and his response to me:

Thank you again for taking the time to speak with me and answer my questions about trucking liability.
Please let me know if this is an accurate representation of your rough estimate of the impact of an increase in liability coverage upon trucking premiums:
1st million: $5,000/truck
2nd million: add $1,200
3rd million: add $900
each additional million: would continue to be a smaller increase
So, in this example, a trucker who currently pays $5,000 (and again, I am confused if this means that this $5,000 is for just his liability portion or his whole insurance bill) would pay something a little more than $7,100–like maybe $7,600.
To clarify: That estimate of a trucker’s premium would be for if the liability coverage was $4.2 million.
Would this be an accurate ROUGH estimate?
Marianne
His reply to me:

Marianne:   Thanks for your call and again my sincere regrets for your loss.   Yes, this is a very rough and best guess estimate based on what I see and hear. 

Best wishes in your pursuit. 

I also heard back from a trucker whom I have been in conversation with via email and facebook. Tilden Curl got me in contact with his insurance agent, who responded to the above information with his own estimate:

Hello Marianne and Tilden,

 My condolences, Marianne, for your loss. My heart is heavy for you as Tilden spoke of your story and inquiries to me yesterday. Admittedly my thoughts drifted to you & your daughters while I passed a number of tractor/trailers on the freeway just last night. . . 

Due to so many factors the variance of premiums is enormous. We have seen some at $1,800 all the way up to $9,000 annual.

Historically, since the current minimums were mandated back in early 1980s, a good average would be the $5,000 mark. It does tend to flow up and down with the economy, markets, catastrophic events, and such, but a good average is the $5K.

I can only speculate on what the premiums would be if federal mandate were to be elevated to a $1.5MM, $2MM, $3MM or even $4.2MM limits.

The numbers estimated in the other emails seem pretty low to me. I would think closer to:

1.5MM – $6,200 +/- annual

2MM – $7,000 – $7,500

3MM – $7,800 – $8,400

4.2MM – $8,600 – 9,300

Mark D. Johnson

HUB International Transportation Insurance Services, Inc.

Even if we go with the second estimate, $9,300, this is still only an increase of $4,300 from a current $5,000. Compare this to the “early estimate” of $20,000 or more, which is what is being told to truckers and would increase their premium by $15,000/year.

Thus, the estimates I have been given are at least $11,700/year less than what truckers are apparently being told. Big difference.

Furthermore, I am assuming, that Congress has been told that the rates will skyrocket and go up to $20,000. So the question is:  Did Congress vote upon the THUD Appropriations Bill — to take away funding from FMCSA which would allow them to continue the rulemaking on this vital matter (previously authorized by Congress) — based on INACCURATE information?

Read about that here:

My Crash Course on Underwriting for Trucking Minimum Liability Could Impact You

In case you did not know it, the minimum level of liability insurance, which trucking companies are required to have, is $750,000 and has not increased in over 35 years. It has not kept up with inflation as Congress intended when it originally authorized the Secretary of Transportation to set that limit.

“The Motor Carrier Act of 1935 first directed the establishment of Federal rules and regulations for interstate motor carrier operations that govern “security for the protection of the public.” Over time, both Congress and the Federal government have taken numerous actions to address the levels of financial responsibility, most recently with the recent enactment of MAP-21. The current minimum levels of financial responsibility for commercial motor carriers were established by Congressional legislation in the early 1980’s. Recently, there has been interest in determining whether the current mandated levels continue to accomplish these goals and whether victims of truck- and bus-related crashes are adequately compensated.” p. xi  http://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/sites/fmcsa.dot.gov/files/docs/Financial-Responsibility-Study.pdf

As one daughter of a truck crash victim has said, “That’s $750K for each incident, not each person injured or killed in a crash. So if several families or cars are involved all those injured and all the families of those killed must share the $750K if that is all the truck company has.”  http://trucksafety.org/dawn-kings-journey-2011/

In contrast, check out this DOT document which they prepared in order to determine the value of lost life and injury and its impact on rulemaking decisions:                                          VSL Guidance-2013-2 DOT value of life .

In the fall of 2014, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA)  issued an advanced notice of proposed rulemaking  in order to study, among other things, the question of whether the minimum liability level should be increased in order to more adequately compensate for lost life and injury due to truck crashes.

  • The Federal Government has long required motor carriers to maintain certain levels of financial responsibility, either through insurance, a bond, or other financial security, as a means to protect the public in the event of a crash.  An April 2014 Report to Congress found that while catastrophic motor carrier crashes are rare, the costs for resulting severe and critical injuries can exceed $1 million; current insurance limits do not adequately cover these costs, which are primarily due to increases in medical expenses and other crash-related costs. – See more at: http://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/newsroom/fmcsa-seeks-comment-public-insurance-providers-motor-carriers-revising-minimum-levels#sthash.dQV1v0AQ.dpuf
  • From a study released in April 2014, FMCSA says that, “The legislative history of minimum insurance requirements for commercial motor vehicles (CMV) indicates that Congress recognized that crash costs would change over time and that DOT would periodically examine the levels and make adjustments as necessary. A variety of recent studies indicate that inflation has greatly increased medical claims costs and related expenses. In conclusion, FMCSA has determined that the current financial responsibility minimums are due for re-evaluation. The Agency has formed a rulemaking team to further evaluate the appropriate level of financial responsibility for the motor carrier industry and has placed this rulemaking among the Agency’s high priority rules. The FMCSA will continue to meet with the stakeholders, including impacted industries, safety advocacy groups, and private citizens, as it moves forward with developing a proposed rule.”  http://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/mission/policy/report-congress-examining-appropriateness-current-financial-responsibility-and

Unfortunately, despite the insistence of many that this increase is necessary, the trucking industry is lobbying against it–declaring it unnecessary–and, at present, has put a rider in the THUD appropriations bill now being voted on. If the bill passes with that rider intact, then FMCSA will no longer be funded to complete the rulemaking process which has already been authorized.

What is the truth in this matter–necessary or unnecessary? That is what I would like to know. And I think that truckers and lawmakers and the public need to know this as well. And that is why I set out on a quest recently to find the answer to that question.

The support for halting the rulemaking which is coming from the trucking industry includes the Independent Owner Operators, who in particular are being told that their premiums will skyrocket if the rule were to pass.  According to Jami Jones from OOIDA (Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association),

“An increase such as the one Cartwright is proposing would cripple small-business-truckers. Currently, the national average cost for a small-business trucker insuring one truck is about $5,000 per year.

It’s virtually impossible to project what the cost would be if the minimum liability requirement were increased more than 500 percent.

For starters many insurance carriers may quit offering insurance because of the increased amount of financial resources they would have to have in place to even write the policies. Secondly, there is no straight-line increase that can be drawn. But early estimates place annual premiums at $20,000 or more for a one-truck owner-operator for a $4.2 million liability policy.” – See more at: http://www.landlinemag.com/Story.aspx?StoryId=25702#.VXoxp_lViko

In contrast, check out this opinion on the potential premium:

http://annaleahmary.com/2015/06/the-future-of-trucking-who-pays-for-the-costs-of-safer-roads/ John Lannen, executive director of the Truck Safety Coalition, has shared background information with us which he has gathered from numerous sources, presentations, and conversations regarding the economics of additional insurance coverage for motor carriers.  It turns out that the first million dollars’ worth of  trucking insurance is the most expensive and each incremental amount is cheaper. . . . ” (For more details, go here: http://annaleahmary.com/2015/06/trucking-minimum-liability-insurance-trucker-wages-a-facebook-conversation/ )”

Additionally, I have been having online conversations with truckers and have not found any evidence to verify the validity of that $20,000 estimate. Many people in the industry pooh-pooh safety advocacy which they consider based merely on emotion. But do they hold themselves to the same standard and insist on FACTS?

I am certainly motivated strongly by emotions to be in this quest for safer roads for the long haul. But I hope that I am basing my statements and my advocacy on facts and logical reasoning. In fact, I am not content to accept at face value statements by the trucking industry which influence both those whom they represent and also lawmakers who make decisions on truck safety legislation. I am, therefore, concerned about decisions being made on matters which impact victims of truck crashes and which quite possibly may be impacted by misinformed fears.

Because I feel so strongly about getting to the bottom of this question, I have spent many hours this week trying to find out what the new premiums will actually be for truckers if the minimum liability level is eventually raised. In order to educate myself on this topic, I have spoken or emailed with:

  • Todd Spencer, Executive Vice President of OOIDA–the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (awaiting a response from him)
  • National Association of Insurance Commissioners (who explained to me that as liability limits go up, rates go down. He also told me that insurance companies are required by law to file their rate tables with the state and that I should be able to contact a state department of insurance and ask for that information. He said that the rate tables would list the options for liability limits and that each level would indicate a figure which would be a multiplier–to be multiplied by the trucker’s base rate in order to find out the new premium at higher levels. I have yet to get access to these tables.)
  • North Carolina Department of Insurance (still have to check with the Property and Casualty Division)
  • Numerous insurance agencies
  • Several truckers, including: http://annaleahmary.com/2015/06/trucking-minimum-liability-insurance-a-facebook-conversation-with-truckers-continues/

Many independent owner operators are concerned that they would bear the brunt of increases — being at a disadvantage to the larger self-insuring trucking companies. FMCSA’s rulemaking addresses this issue. http://www.landlinemag.com/Story.aspx?StoryID=28110#.VXozEPlViko

Along that line, please read this paper written by an independent owner operator:      Tilden Curl Paper on Trucker Insurance

Finally, I contacted FMCSA, to whom, on May 5, 2014, we originally presented our petition request for raising the minimum liability. At that time, they indicated that in order to get access to proprietary insurance information to determine estimated premiums they would have to initiate the rulemaking process–which they did in November 2014.

However, when I emailed FMCSA today to find out if they had gotten access to that proprietary information, they let me know that they did not yet have the information to estimate the increase in insurance premiums. In order to get that information, they have recently published a rulemaking entitled “Confidential Business Information,” which would “help encourage insurance companies to share some of their proprietary information” for use in the agency rulemaking process–without disclosing confidential information to the general public.

The evident lack of transparency really bothers me, especially with all of the rumors going around–rumors which are swaying decisions and actions that impact life & death matters.

Meanwhile, who pays the price for this issue being stuck in limbo? Some would claim that, “In the end, if minimum liability insurance is increased to $4.2 million, the only winners would be the trial lawyers and large motor carriers – with small-business trucking suffering an expensive, wildly burdensome and completely unnecessary mandate.” – See more at: http://www.landlinemag.com/Story.aspx?StoryId=25702#.VXo3XvlViko

Really? What about those who already bear the brunt of unexpected, unnecessary tragedy and untimely death? Aren’t they the ones that the insurance is intended to benefit?

 

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