FMCSA idles costly truck insurance coverage scheme

Citing “insufficient data or information to support moving forward with a rulemaking,” the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has withdrawn a proposal expanding the scope of commercial motor vehicles warranting a minimum amount of insurance per truck, potentially increasing coverage from $750,000 to $4 million annually.

The National Ready Mixed Concrete Association welcomed the move, noting that a) minimum mixer truck insurance thresholds are generally set on the state versus federal level; and, b) the proposed rule aimed to put private carriers, such as ready mixed concrete producers, under federal requirements generally limited to hazardous material and other high-risk carriers.

In a member survey supporting comments submitted to FMCSA in early-2015, NRMCA Compliance and Operations staff found most ready mixed producers hold coverage amounts in excess of the minimum requirements and/or umbrella policies for rare, higher claims. “The ready mixed concrete industry survey data directly calls into question the necessity for proposing to make any changes to the current financial responsibility regulatory scheme,” NRMCA told the agency.

Among many other FMCSA proposal opponents, the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association argued that the rule factored insurance figures based on increases in medical inflation, and would place significant financial burdens on motor carriers without any improvement to highway safety—as more than 99 percent of crash damages are covered under current financial requirements.

Despite receiving a significant response to its Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, FMCSA noted how those submitting comments failed to provide responsive information necessary to allow the Agency to proceed to a formal rule. In particular, responders did not provide sufficient cost or benefit data and the Agency was unable to otherwise obtain sufficient data on industry practice with respect to the level of liability limits in excess of the Agency’s minimum financial responsibility requirements; the cost of such premiums and their frequency; plus, the amount by which bodily injury and property damage claims exceed policy liability limits.

Announcing the withdrawal of its Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, FMCSA conceded, “The anecdotal and hypothetical data provided by commenters are not sufficient to allow the Agency to perform a systematic cost-benefit analysis that would be required to raise motor carrier minimum financial responsibility through a rulemaking. Based on the information provided, FMCSA is not able to determine (1) potential increases in insurance premiums associated with increased financial responsibility limits, or (2) or the impact of an increase in minimum financial responsibility requirements on insurance company capital requirements set by insurance regulators to ensure there are sufficient reserves to minimize the risk of insolvency and protect consumers. Moreover, FMCSA is not able to calculate economic benefits from having more financial resources available to assist crash victims associated with increased minimum financial responsibility limits.”

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