The Controversy Around Trucking Insurance
There are plenty of costs truck drivers have to balance, especially if they’re owner-operators. One of the most constant expenses in trucking is insurance. Drivers of commercial vehicles pose more of a danger in the event of an accident, so being able to cover the risk is important.
Since 1983, trucking has had a minimum insurance requirement of $750,000. This number is one that independent drivers have worked hard to keep low. An increase would mean costly readjustments in the budgeting of thousands and thousands of drivers. However, safety advocates have argued it is necessary to raise the federal minimum.
There have been numerous cases of injury victims not getting their full settlement from truckers and trucking companies that lacked enough funds. This problem is one that has persisted over the past several decades, with multiple administrations attempting to raise the minimum.
Major efforts were taken in the Obama administration, where raising insurance minimums joined a long list of proposals by safety regulators including mandatory ELDs, reduced emissions, and more stringent weight limits. The effort was unsuccessful, as it was ruled there was not enough data to justify the change.
The Trump administration recently ruled the same way, but statistics about crashes involving large trucks have people concerned. Nearly 4,000 people die a year in the US from accidents with trucks. Some victims survive, but find themselves dealing with lifelong injuries and needing long-term medical care.
Some advocates claim the minimum today, adjusted for inflation, would be over $2 million. The current minimum has not increased with the rising cost of medical expenses, making it questionable that the amount could cover serious injuries of even one accident victim.
Not everyone agrees that insufficient data exists to justify the switch. Some claim that regulators have purposefully dragged their feet in order to keep the minimum low. The financial liability truckers face is large, and while insurance does help it has not been a very effective way to compensate victims presently – at least at its current levels.
As the trucking industry turns to telematic solutions and cloud-based data management, if data does exist to justify the change it will be much easier to find in the future.