Rep. Steve Daines may have barely won the vote on his amendment to halt an increase in the levels of minimum insurance required by truck and bus companies, but he took a misstep when he chose to do the bidding of well-paid truck and bus lobbyists at the expense of his constituents. Daines' actions turned a deaf ear to the needs of truck and bus crash victims, including those paying the price for last year's crash in Missoula that killed two and injured 30. The bus in that crash held the minimum insurance required, $5 million, which is not nearly enough to pay for all of the damages.
Truck crash victims also come up against similar shortfalls in coverage. Trucks are only required to carry $750,000 in insurance coverage but have the capacity to cause millions in damages. The gap between the insurance levels that trucks and buses are required to carry and the level of damages they can inflict on the American public is subsidized by the victims of these crashes as well as by taxpayers who pay through their support of social welfare programs including Medicaid and Social Security.
Thirty years of medical care cost inflation, which is higher than regular inflation, has occurred since commercial motor vehicle insurance levels were set, and would increase the levels for trucks to at least $3.2 million. Congress intended minimum insurance levels to trigger on-site underwriting by insurance companies. Unfortunately, the levels were set too low to do so at the time, and fail to do so 30 years later.
Coeur d’Alene, Idaho