March 16, 2017
SPRINGFIELD (March 16)—SMART-TD’s legislative initiative to address some short-comings with the financial responsibility portion of the Illinois Vehicle Code as it pertains to contact carrier vehicles cleared its first hurdle on Wednesday by passing unanimously out of the Senate Insurance Committee.
Senate Bill 1681, which in the coming weeks will go to the Senate Floor for a full vote, would require railroads to verify that the contract carriers they hire to haul their employees have met the statutory minimum Uninsured/Underinsured motor vehicle coverage as provided by law, which is $500,000 per passenger thanks to legislation pushed by SMART-TD last year.
“We found recently, through some court cases and rulings, that there was some non-compliance among certain contract carrier companies when it came to their mandatory minimum UM/UIM coverage requirement,” said SMART-TD Illinois State Director Robert W. Guy. “This lapse in coverage is potentially harmful to our members should they ever be injured in an accident that is caused by a third party who only had minimal coverage.”
Because contract carriers are different from other motorists, as they are contracted by the railroads to transport their employees, the Illinois Legislature has consistently and in a bi-partisan manner determined that a higher amount of UM/UIM coverage was necessary to ensure adequate compensation to persons injured by wrongful drivers.
“But how do we ensure that the proper coverage is in place?” says Guy. “SB 1681 is the first step in ensuring that contract carriers have the minimum UM/UIM coverage.”
Since rail carriers and SMART-TD negotiated the bi-partisan legislation that led to UM/UIM minimums, it would seem to make sense for the rail carriers to verify that the contract carriers they hire have the statutory minimum motor vehicle coverage.
“And that’s what SB 1681 would do,” said Guy. “Requiring railroads to verify that contract carriers have met the statutory requirement is not overly burdensome of the industry and won’t add any additional costs regarding the execution of the contracts they have with the contract carrier companies.”
While passing out of committee on a unanimous basis is encouraging, we must continue to make calls to individual State Senator’s to express the need for this legislation.
“I want to thank those who already contacted their State Senator,” said Guy. “But we must continue to make those calls so that we can express how important this safety net is and why SB 1681 is needed, so if you haven’t done so already please reach out to your State Senator as soon as possible and ask them to support SB 1681.” For assistance in determining your State Senator please visit www.illini.utu.org and click on “Legislator Lookup”, or call the SMART-TD Legislative office at 312-236-5353.
Also, there’s a fabulous tool available that puts your legislator’s contact info in the palm of your hand. The Illinois AFL-CIO has a wonderful smartphone APP that put’s the contact info for the entire Illinois General Assembly at your fingertips. To download, go to the APP store and search for ‘Illinois AFL-CIO Legislative Directory’, it’s $1.99 and will allow you quick and easy access to contact information for your individual state legislator’s.