Just like a driver of a small vehicle is required to carry a minimum level of insurance in order to drive, commercial trucking companies are also required to carry a minimum level of insurance in order to operate. This is for good reason. Large 18-wheelers are heavier and larger than just about every other type of vehicle on the road. So, when a semi is involved in an accident, the damage can be catastrophic thanks to the difference in size between the vehicles involved. In other words, a large truck can cause injuries and property damage that are much more serious and expensive than if all vehicles in an accident were similar sizes.
To make sure that truck accident survivors can receive the compensation they need after a serious accident, laws exist that place mandatory coverage amounts on large trucks. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has created mandatory coverage minimums for trucks that are based on what type of material they haul.
Mandatory FMCSA insurance minimums for trucks include the following:
- $300,000 for trucks that are under 10,001 pounds and that don’t haul hazardous materials
- $750,000 in coverage for trucks that are over 10,001 pounds and that don’t haul hazardous materials
- $1,000,000 in coverage for private drivers and companies that haul oil
- $5,000,000 in coverage for trucks that haul hazardous material other than oil
Can Truck Carriers Set Their Own Minimums?
Yes. A truck carrier can require an independent contractor to have more coverage than the law requires before allowing them to do work for it. This precaution is taken to help them ensure that the driver has enough insurance for the specific demands of the type of freight they’re hauling. Additionally, some carriers require truckers to carry optional coverage, such as cargo insurance. Since this coverage is not required by law, a carrier can set this requirement according to their preference.
Are Truck Insurance Minimums Enough for Accident Survivors?
In the 1980s, the Motor Carrier Act set many of the requirements for trucking insurance. The minimum level has not been adjusted since the bill was passed and the FMCSA has acknowledged that, because of, inflation and higher cost of medical care, $750,000 is no longer adequate to cover damages caused by commercial trucking accidents.
Six years ago, the FMCSA released a report revealing that if the minimum amount of $750,000 in coverage for large trucks had kept up with inflation, it would be about $1.62 million today. Notably, this doesn't factor in the accelerated rise of healthcare costs over the past two decades. Since the report, a House panel has attempted to amend the four-decade-old law to account for inflation.
According to Representative Jesus “Chuy” Garcia of Illinois, the change is crucial to produce “... minimum insurance required for commercial vehicles to support families recovering from crashes."
Our Firm Helps Truck Accident Survivors Obtain the Compensation They Need
When truck companies aren’t safe and insurance companies don’t offer the compensation accident survivors need, Arnold & Itkin steps in to demand answers. We’ve recovered billions of dollars by never settling for less than clients need. When the other side isn’t fair, we hold them accountable. When insurance companies aren’t ready to help, we demand they treat clients better.
If you’re struggling after a truck accident, we’re ready to help. Call us today to find out how we can fight for the compensation you need. We’re standing by to answer your questions during a free consultation at (888) 493-1629