Insurance and safety have yet to prove a correlation in trucking

July 28, 2021

SJ Munoz


Insurance and safety have yet to prove a correlation in trucking.

On the July 28 episode of “Live From Exit 24,” host Mike Matousek was joined by OOIDA Executive Vice President Lewie Pugh and Travis Ginest, OOIDA senior claims counsel, for a conversation on insurance minimums, tort reform, trial lawyers and more.

To protect the interest of its members, OOIDA is leading the charge with lawmakers on Capitol Hill. Specifically, the Association are fighting separate proposals that would increase motor carriers’ minimum insurance requirement by 167% and 556%, respectively.

“We have people on Capitol Hill every day,” Pugh said. “Our staff in Washington, D.C., is constantly working with lawmakers. We sent out a coalition letter along with other industries, and I was at a hearing back in February. But where the rubber meets the road is when we get members to pick up the phone.”

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Larger fleets, in particular, stand to benefit greatly from an insurance increase, Ginest said. A measure in the House highway bill would increase the minimum requirement from $750,000 to $2 million, while a standalone bill would boost it all the way to $4.923 million.

“There are some larger fleets who would like the minimums increased for a variety of reasons,” Ginest said. “They would benefit if there were less owner-operators. They have $100 million towers of insurance. Some of them are self-insured for up to $10 million, so they aren’t even purchasing that first layer of insurance.”

The idea of certain parties working together should be enough to raise eyebrows.

“When this kind of money is involved, it makes strange bedfellows,” Ginest said. “When you see two enemies get together and start working together to do something, you need to start asking yourself why they are doing this. The vast majority of cases are settled well under the current minimum. Raising the minimum to $2 million isn’t going to matter one way or the other.”

The Trucking Alliance is another group that has been in favor of an increase.

“We all know what the real issues are,” Pugh said. “We’ve been telling them for years the things that could make a difference and make the highways safer. I worked out there for 20 years, and I know how dangerous it could be. A lot of good drivers out there are just in the wrong place at the wrong time. Why aren’t they pushing for more training?”

In regards to Texas tort reform, Ginest said, “These types of things take years and years. It looks good on paper, but we’ll see how it plays out.”

Further complicating the matter for truck drivers are trial lawyer billboards and their negative reinforcement.

“It’s a propaganda machine,” Ginest said. “They all say the truck is bad. After you see this over and over, you start thinking, maybe these trucks are bad.”

Pugh also questioned how an insurance rate hike would lead to an improvement in highway safety, and instead proposed a different solution.

“It’s a proven fact carriers that pay more money are safer and have better retention,” Pugh said. “Trucking is so inefficient because shippers and receivers use trucks as rolling warehouses. We’ve completely set up the industry for failure by the way they workers are paid. If I have $1 million of insurance or if I have $2 million of insurance, how does that make me a better driver? How will this change safety?

OOIDA talk show

“Live From Exit 24” is scheduled for 11 a.m. Central every other Wednesday. Listeners can tune in to the show on the Live From Exit 24 website, OOIDA Facebook page or on OOIDA’s YouTube channel. The next episode airs Wednesday, Aug. 11.


“Live From Exit 24” launched as a way to expand OOIDA’s communication with members and to hear directly from drivers across the industry. OOIDA is asking for truck drivers to fill out a survey to let the Association know how you are liking the show so far. Help guide what’s addressed during the program. The survey is here. LL