Truck accidents have the potential to result in enormous damages at great financial cost. Because of this, commercial carriers are required by law to carry a minimum amount of insurance to protect themselves and the public against the costs incurred from tractor\trailer accidents. However, the minimum coverage amount has not been adjusted to provide adequate coverage in close to 35 years, meaning many 18-wheeler accidents cost a lot more than the coverage that most companies carry.
Though federal safety organizations are lobbying for increases in minimum coverage for commercial carriers, efforts to increase financial protection for truck crashes have been met with much opposition.
Outdated Minimum Insurance Limits
According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Association, the current minimum insurance coverage for commercial trucking companies is $750,000. This is an amount that was determined to provide sufficient crash coverage in 1980; however, with inflation, the increased cost of living, and other factors, this amount is far from sufficient today. It has been found to be inadequate in over 42 percent of truck accidents in recent years.
Therefore, the FMCSA has been supporting an increase of coverage to $4 million, an amount formulated to represent today’s economy based on the revised cost of 18-wheeler accidents today. Unfortunately, pressure from trucking companies and the industry as a whole has prevented this regulation change from going into effect, and it remains in negotiation.
The Real Cost of Trucking Accidents
While it may seem like $4 million is a huge amount to insure for and will most certainly affect commercial carriers with higher premiums, safety experts point out that wallet-conscious companies may not be seeing the big picture. Serious trucking accidents incur costs into the millions. Although there are sometimes multiple parties that can reimburse for these costs, nearly half of the time there is insufficient coverage for these damages. When that happens, those costs end up passed down to the state and the country in various ways.
The carriers themselves may not end up penalized by higher premiums and their insurance company pays for the coverage. The lasting result is a greater cost in general to the consumer and the community in the form of higher taxes, higher cost of living, higher healthcare costs, and more. Eventually, it all affects those same companies in different ways.
Does Increasing Insurance Limits Make Sense?
The purpose of increasing insurance limits is to make commercial carriers and their insurance companies financially responsible for any damage they may cause. When these costs are passed down, there is a much greater cost to the public and no incentive for companies to increase their safety measures to reduce costly 18-wheeler accidents.
A main argument supporting the increase of insurance minimums suggests that while premiums will be higher for carriers, putting the cost back onto the companies removes the cost from the public sector. The results in doing so should reduce other costs that increase a company’s business expenses, such as employee health insurance, fuel prices, and more. It will also help prevent insurance companies from short-changing settlements for truck crashes due to inadequate coverage.
The FMCSA’s report supporting this important increase to provide adequate insurance coverage for truck accidents was recently blocked by legislation. Efforts are ongoing to improve insurance coverage. The FMCSA continues to support their report and is negotiating with Congress and the trucking industry as a whole to agree on an increased insurance limit that can begin to cover the cost of tractor\trailer accidents when they happen!
Pearland, Pasadena, Webster, League City, Webster, Manvel, Alvin, Friendswood, La Marque, Texas City, and Galveston
Hildebrand & Wilson, LLP
Robert W. Hildebrand, Attorney at Law
J. Daniel Wilson, Attorney at Law
7830 Broadway, Suite 122
Pearland TX 77581
Phone: (281) 408-2190