OOIDA rallies members to oppose minimum insurance bill

September 25, 2019

Mark Schremmer

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The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association is encouraging its members to contact their lawmakers in opposition of a bill that would increase motor carriers’ minimum insurance coverage to nearly $5 million.

In July, Reps. Matthew Cartwright, D-Pa., and Jesus “Chuy” Garcia, D-Ill., introduced the INSURANCE Act, or HR3781, that would raise the federal minimum insurance requirement for motor carriers from $750,000 to $4.923 million. The bill also would require the U.S. Secretary of Transportation to adjust the rate every five years to take into account in inflation costs related to medical care.

OOIDA is opposed to the bill, saying that it “will do absolutely nothing to improve safety.”

On FightingforTruckers.com, the Association has a form letter truck drivers can use to send to their respective lawmakers.

“The INSURANCE Act is a solution in search of a problem,” the form letter states. “Approximately 0.1% of truck-involved crashes have costs that exceed the current minimums.

“If Congress mandates these unwarranted insurance increases, it would threaten my livelihood and that of thousands of other small-business truckers throughout the country.”

OOIDA is leading a coalition of 31 trade associations that oppose the INSURANCE Act, as well as three other expensive trucking mandates.

“The studies have indicated the current minimum insurance level adequately covers damages in all but 0.06% of crashes,” the coalition wrote on Sept. 16 to the leaders of the Committee on Commerce Science and Transportation and the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure. “This is a clear sign today’s level of coverage is adequate. What studies haven’t shown is any improvement to safety associated with increasing insurance requirements.”

OOIDA contends that the mandate could force professional truck drivers off the road, because they wouldn’t be able to afford the expensive insurance premiums.

“It imposes yet another unnecessary and expensive federal mandate that will force the safest and most experienced truckers off the road while further lining the pockets of our nation’s trial lawyers,” OOIDA President and CEO Todd Spencer said.

Earlier this month, the Washington Examiner reported that the bill could benefit Rep. Cartwright’s family law firm.

In 2013, just months after Cartwright took office, he introduced a similar bill to raise the minimum liability insurance requirements to $4.2 million. The October 2013 issue of Land Line Magazine includes an article from Managing Editor Jami Jones detailing his connection to the Munley, Munley & Cartwright law firm in Pennsylvania. Cartwright’s wife, Marion Munley, works at the firm and specializes in commercial truck accident cases. Cartwright also reportedly holds an ownership stake in the firm.

“Rep. Matt Cartwright has spent years sponsoring truck insurance legislation that would directly benefit his family’s law firm, in which he owns a multimillion dollar sake, according to financial and lobbying records reviewed by the Washington Examiner,” the article stated.

Spencer told the Examiner that Cartwright should recuse himself from involvement in any such legislation.

“From our perspective, it’s blatantly obvious the motives behind the legislation are to economically improve the bottom line for attorneys that specialize in suing truckers,” Spencer said to the Examiner. “Should there be any integrity in our system at all, (Cartwright) should be recusing himself from involvement.”

Mark Schremmer

Mark Schremmer, staff writer, joined Land Line in 2015. An award-winning journalist and former assistant news editor at The Topeka Capital-Journal, he brings fresh ideas, solid reporting skills, and nearly two decades of journalism experience to our staff.