MAINE MFR LEGISLATION WITHDRAWN AFTER OPPOSITION FROM TRALA
On January 2, 2019, Maine State Senator Robert Foley (R-34) introduced Senate Paper No. 11, which sought to increase the Minimum Financial Responsibility (MFR) for property damage from $25,000 to $50,000. Since the passage of the Graves Law, which greatly limited vicarious liability lawsuits, TRALA has seen state lawmakers, trial lawyers, and some in the insurance industry attempt to increase the MFR limits in states. While often times these efforts are led by trial lawyers seeking to encourage more lawsuits with larger payouts, in some cases it simply comes from legislators who do not understand the impact an MFR increase can have on the truck rental industry.
TRALA contacted Maine Motor Transport Association (MMTA) to express its concerns with Senate Paper No. 11 when the legislation was introduced. MMTA was able to set up a phone call with Senator Foley to discuss how his bill would negatively affect the truck rental industry. On January 25, 2019, TRALA and its member company U-Haul discussed industry concerns about this legislation with Senator Foley directly. Senator Foley explained that, as an insurance salesman, he was concerned the current level of $25,000 for property damage did not cover all of the damages he was seeing in Maine, citing a specific crash that caused significant property damage. TRALA effectively pushed back, stating that after speaking to its members nearly no claims involving rental trucks had ever exceeded $25,000 worth of property damage in Maine, with U-Haul giving strong evidence to Senator Foley that not a single incident was reported at that level in the past few years involving one of their vehicles.
Additionally, TRALA explained that increases to the MFR disproportionately affect rental companies who self-insure their vehicles. Since these companies self-insure, they are unable to make up for MFR increases through higher premiums and their only option is to increase rental fees, which harms consumers. The Senator understood these points and suggested we work on compromise legislation. TRALA explained it could accept an exemption from these increases for companies who self-insure their vehicles, but that its preference would be for the bill not to move given the negative impact on consumers and the fact that $25,000 was already the highest property damage minimum in the entire Northeast region.
Senator Foley was very receptive and reached out to TRALA several times to discuss possible amendments to his bill over the course of the next week. However, upon reflection, on January 31, 2019, Senator Foley contacted TRALA to say he was withdrawing his bill. TRALA agreed to work with the Senator in the future if a compromise solution could be found and he expressed a willingness to stay in touch over the issue and to build a stronger working relationship with TRALA.
TRALA would like to thank MMTA for its facilitation of the call that began such a productive interchange between Senator Foley and TRALA. If you have any questions on Maine Senate Paper No. 11, or issues related to state Minimum Financial Responsibility legislation, please contact TRALA's Andrew Stasiowski at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling (703)299-9120.