The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is looking for comments on a plan to raise insurance minimums for carriers and establish insurance requirements for brokers and freight forwarders.

The long-awaited notice is scheduled for publication in the Federal Register this week. The agency said it will publish an insurance proposal for private carriers separately.

The agency is acting on instructions from Congress to update insurance requirements that have been in place for almost 30 years.

In 1985, the Department of Transportation (FMCSA did not exist then) set minimums of $750,000 for general freight, $5 million for the most dangerous hazmats and $1 million for other hazmats.

In 2012, Congress considered telling the agency to raise the general freight minimum to $1 million but ultimately told the agency to prepare an analysis that could become the basis for a new standard.

In its analysis the agency found that the minimums need to be reevaluated due to increasing medical costs and changing statistical life estimates. It is considering a range of numbers but one would be to peg the minimums to the Consumer Price Index.

If that happens, the general freight requirement would jump to $1.6 million, dangerous hazmats would go to $10.8 million and other hazmats would go to $2.2 million.

In this week’s notice the agency says the analysis provides preliminary support for raising the minimums but it wants more information.

The agency has dozens of specific questions. Among them: what should the minimums be, what would an increase do to premium costs, how often do current minimums cover actual costs of a crash, and how would an increase in the minimums affect large and small carriers.

Comments will be due in February.

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