Lawmakers marking up the U.S. House of Representatives’ version of the surface transportation reauthorization bill have approved an amendment to more than double the required amount of insurance coverage for truck owners from $750,000 to $2 million.
The amendment, introduced this week by U.S. Rep. Chuy Garcia, D-Illinois, passed the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee late Wednesday by a vote of 37-27.
Proponents of the amendment argue that the current insurance liability requirement does not adequately compensate victims of accidents involving large trucks. Opponents of the measure, including small-business truck owners represented by the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, warn that raising the limits could put small-business truckers out of business.
“This amendment will do absolutely nothing to improve safety on our highways,” Todd Spencer, President and CEO of OOIDA, said in a statement. “What this proposal will do is destroy small trucking businesses in every corner of the country.”
OOIDA had initially supported several provisions in the House version of the reauthorization of the FAST Act, called the Investing in a New Vision for the Environment and Surface Transportation in America (INVEST in America) Act, a five-year, $494 billion surface transportation bill unveiled earlier this month. Those provisions included increased funding for highway construction, funding for truck parking projects, and provisions to limit excessive detention time.
But Spencer said his group now opposes the bill with the inclusion of the provision to hike insurance coverage for truckers.
“Small business truckers have been working around the clock to keep the country healthy, while risking their personal well-being and struggling to stay in business due to historically low freight rates caused by COVID-19. Unnecessarily increasing their insurance rates is not the way to thank them.”
The bill must be approved by the Democrat-controlled House, in a vote scheduled for late June, before moving to negotiations with the Republican-controlled Senate.
Click for more FreightWaves articles by John Gallagher