August 17, 2016

SPRINGFIELD (August 17)—SMART-TD’s 2016 legislative agenda, one that concentrated on concerns with contract carrier vehicles, gained another victory last week as Governor Rauner signed SB 2882.

SB 2882 will raise the minimum amount of Uninsured/Underinsured (UM/UIM) motor vehicle coverage that a contract carrier vehicle must carry. The current minimum, established a decade ago by legislation initiated by SMART-TD, is $250,000 per passenger.

“That minimum will now be doubled,” said SMART-TD Illinois State Legislative Director Robert W. Guy. “We realized that the earning potential for current railroaders is substantially higher than it was a decade ago, so those monetary protections needed to be raised as well.”

“Our members are put at risk when being transported in private contract carrier vehicles,” Guy said. “Adequate insurance coverage protecting them from uninsured or underinsured drivers is a must.”

Beginning on January 1st, 2017, contract carrier vehicles in Illinois that transport railroad employees in the course of their employment will be required to carry $500,000 worth of UM/UIM coverage per passenger.

“SB 2882 ultimately passed both chambers of the Illinois General Assembly with a total of one ‘No’ vote,” Guy said. “Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle recognized the need to protect workers who could be at risk of losing earning potential should they be unable to return to work.”

“The coverages provided for in SB 2882 aren’t meant to replace a career’s worth of earnings,” Guy said. “But, it would help tremendously for any rail worker involved in an accident caused by a motorist who is either uninsured or underinsured.”

While encouraged by the updated protections for SMART-TD members and other railroaders who are transported in contract carrier vehicles, Guy warns that the work of the Board is far from over.

“We must also use all avenues available to us to ensure that those ‘private’ contract carrier companies are complying with the minimum standards set forth by statute,” Guy said. “We will also need to impress on the rail carrier’s what the requirements are and that we feel their contracts with the van companies should include proof of the coverage.”

While incidents and/or accidents are rare, this coverage allows for moderate recovery for SMART-TD members who may not be able to resume their regular railroad duties through no fault of their own.

“That’s the basis for the legislation,” Guy said. “No one should lose their livelihood due to inadequately insured motorists.”