Wisconsin Senate Addresses Minimum Financial Responsibility
- By: Shannon Davison
- On: 02/11/2016 09:35:58
- In: Legislative Bulletins
TRALA is pleased that the Wisconsin's legislature has acted to correct a significant problem with the Minimum Financial Responsibility (MFR) requirements for consumer rental trucks.
TRALA is pleased that the Wisconsin's legislature has acted to correct a significant problem with the Minimum Financial Responsibility (MFR) requirements for consumer rental trucks. Today, the Wisconsin Senate introduced TRALA-supported legislation that will correct this error, and bring the state into compliance with the rest of the country. This legislative fix comes after more than a year of TRALA educating state lawmakers as to the current problem that exists in Wisconsin.
In 2012, a Wisconsin court ruled that a rented truck was subject to $750,000 in Minimum Financial Responsibility. The issue is predicated on two state statutes -W.S.A.§ 344.51, Financial Responsibility for Domestic Rented or Leased Vehicles, and W.S.A. § 194.41, Contract of Liability for Damage to Person or Property, which are in conflict and have resulted in a broad and gross misinterpretation of the proper MFR amounts that consumer rental trucks must abide by. As a result of these contradicting laws, rental companies may be held to higher levels of MFR, regardless of the legally stated amounts of $25,000 for bodily injury or death to one person and $50,000 for bodily injury or death to more than one person, as well as $10,000 for property damage for rental trucks.
Since this decision, TRALA has engaged with lawmakers in Wisconsin to correct this language. The legislative fix proposed today will require that only trucks rented by motor carriers, contract carriers or private carriers of property be subject to the $750,000 Minimum Financial Responsibility. This will eliminate the ambiguity and move consumer rental trucks into the same class they currently are in all other states. TRALA has received word from the Wisconsin Department of Transportation that they will not object to the removal of consumer rentals from this requirement, which removes an important hurdle in moving this legislation forward.
Additionally, TRALA has learned that this bill could begin to move through the legislative process quickly as the author of this bill, Senator Jerry Petrowski, serves as Chairman of the Transportation and Veterans Affairs Committee and that committee could hold a hearing on this bill in the next several weeks. TRALA is working on coordinating local member support within Wisconsin to help push the bill through the House and Senate. TRALA anticipates that a House companion bill will be in the next few days.
To see a copy of the Wisconsin Senate Bill, please click here.
For questions regarding this issue or the TRALA-supported legislation, please contact TRALA's Peter Einisman at PeterEinisman@trala.org or by calling (703) 299-9120.