Bush Signs 2002 Transportation Bill: NAFTA Safety Mandates Meet Insurers Expectations

December 21, 2001

The National Association of Independent Insurers (NAII) is pleased that HR 2299, the Department of Transportation and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2002 recently signed by President Bush provides funding to establish the safety mandates now required for Mexican trucks to roll under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

Compromise legislation agreed upon earlier this month addressed the critical issue of placing adequate numbers of inspectors at Mexican borders, a safety issue of great concern to the National Association of Independent Insurers (NAII) since 1995.

“Our primary concern has always been that an adequate number of safety inspectors be trained and in place at borders when NAFTA became a reality, David Golden, NAII’s director of commercial lines commented. “The FY02 Transportation bill goes beyond what we expected by requiring the Department of Transportation (DOT) to actually establish a public policy standard on the numbers of safety inspectors needed. With a standard on numbers of inspectors in place and a time frame established for the gradual opening of some borders by May 2002, NAII believes that the ultimate goal of ensuring that Mexican trucks meet U. S. safety standards has the best chance to succeed.”

With funding in place, the NAII will continue to work closely with the Tri-Lateral Insurance Committee under DOT to smooth out differences in insurance coverage particularly between the U. S. and Mexico.

“While mutual recognition of insurance coverage in all three countries is the long-term goal best suited to enhance free trade objectives, there are many other workable insurance options available for consideration now,” Golden said. “Also, importantly, DOT will hopefully establish a final rule which will clarify that insurers must be licensed in at least one state in order to write Mexican trucks that travel in the U.S. This clarification will keep the door open to surplus lines writers already involved in the market. Another NAII goal is to help maximize the underwriting information on Mexican motor carriers that will be available to American insurance underwriters during the birth of a new insurance niche.”

According to Golden, the NAII is committed to continued work with Department of Transportation and the NAIC in the coming year as NAFTA is implemented.

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