5 Steps to Becoming an Owner Operator in the Trucking Industry

Many commercial drivers dream of the day they become an owner operator instead of simply making money for someone else. If becoming an owner operator is a goal of yours, then you probably also anticipate being able to make your own schedule as well.

The journey toward actually reaching this goal may seem too complicated for many to achieve but with a little bit of focus and hard work, the benefits of being an owner operator could be yours sooner than you would think. The process is easiest for drivers who have already had a few years of experience behind the wheel. While driving truck for someone else, you are gaining a more complete understanding about each part of the trucking industry, and this understanding is what is sure to help you succeed in your goal.

One Step at a Time

Though the process may seem daunting, drivers who are willing to take one step at a time and realize that each step is imperative to the end goal become owner operators sooner than most would have thought possible. Following are five steps that can lead you to your goal of ownership.

  1. Important Numbers – The first step you need to take is to get a registered with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and get a USDOT number. This number will be used to identify and collect information about your safety information. This information includes any compliance reviews, inspections, data collected in audits and crash investigations. Once you have a USDOT number, You will need to request an Interstate Operating Authority (MC number). The kind of operating authority you need will depend on the type of cargo your plan to haul. There is a one-time fee to get a MC number from the FMCSA.
  2. Understanding Authority – By registering through the Unified Registration System (URS), you will be able to get our trucking authority in 20-25 business days. You will need to have your insurance company provide proof to the FMCSA that you have liability coverage.
  3. Insurance – You may think, while looking at insurance for your truck, that it is just in case of vehicle accidents. Understanding owner operator insurance requirements is something that you need to fully understand before moving forward in the process. Truck insurance is very different than simple auto insurance as it protects not only the owner, but also covers any loss of load or other assets. Certain kinds of insurance coverage are required by the FMCSA depending on what you plan to haul. Some types of freight, such as hazmat loads will require very different insurance than standard loads. The average insurance cost for an owner operator with one truck varies from an average of $8,000 – $12,000 per year.
  4. Lease or Own – One of the most difficult decisions, when considering becoming an owner operator. One of the biggest reasons that you might want to consider leasing a truck is that commercial trucks cost a lot! A decent used truck can cost anywhere from $60,000 to $100,000. Some leasing companies, however, do provide the option of leasing to own. This means that each lease payment gets you a step closer to ownership without having to pay the whole cost up front. If you decide that this is the right option, you may be required to haul for the leasing company, as well as find your own loads.
  5. Understanding Load Boards – Finding loads is one part of owning that many drivers do not get much experience with until they become owner operators. Thankfully, technology has made this process much easier than in the days when owners had to make phone calls looking for loads. The internet has many websites called load boards which are dedicated to helping owner operators find loads. Some of these boards are free, while others require a monthly membership fee for brokers and carriers. Even more convenient is the fact that many of these job boards have easy-to-use apps that can make grabbing the next load on your smartphone or tablet a breeze.

What You Need to Know About Truck Liability Insurance

Crunch the Numbers and Take the Leap

Taking a look at each step in this process before actually making the step can help you understand the costs of setting up as an owner operator. Make sure you factor in other costs that you will be faced with as the truck owner, so you will have a realistic view of how much money you can actually make. These costs, known as average operating costs are often calculated and called the cost per mile. You should include anticipated costs for fuel, vehicle repairs and necessary services, fees, taxes and a savings account that will help with any unexpected occurrences.

Though the process could take you several months, you will realize who worthwhile the work has been once you begin seeing the earning potential that is available to truck owners. Stop dreaming about being your own boss and take the leap as you change your life, your family life and your career for the better.

Prepare Your Fleet for Winter Driving

Though each season of the year will task a fleet in different ways, winter is the one that sends owners scurrying to make sure each truck is ready to ride out the storms. Even semi’s that spend the majority of their miles in warmer states can be unpleasantly surprised by weather that is not common. For instance, in Atlanta, Georgia, a January storm in 2014 turned roads into sheets of ice, causing thousands of people to be stranded at work, on the roads and even at school.

Prepare for the Unexpected

The rule of thumb, when you are responsible for the safety of your drivers, the delivery of goods and the overall expenses of the fleet is to prepare for the unexpected. This means getting those vehicles ready for the winter truck driving before they are caught in the cold. Failing to do so means leaving your entire fleet vulnerable during the most damaging weather season. Taking time to make sure each vehicle in the fleet is winterized can make all the difference to your drivers, customers and especially to your bottom line.

Fleet Winterizing Checklist

Keeping a winterizing checklist on hand is a great way to make sure you do not miss any steps when making sure your vehicles are prepared for whatever winter might bring. Here are 7 checklist Items that should be performed on every fleet vehicle.

  1. Winter fuel – Diesel fuel and cold are typically not mentioned in the same sentence without some frustration. This is because diesel fuel is known to gel in very cold weather due to the hydrocarbon, Paraffin, found in the fuel. Educating drivers about the need to use a winter-blend fuel and having them add anti-gel additives when they are fueling can go a long way to ensuring the semi truck winter start, even in the cold winter weather.
  2. Battery testing–Because batteries drain more quickly in cold weather, each vehicle in the fleet should be tested to make sure the battery is strong. This should not be a one-time test, but should be done periodically throughout the winter to ensure that the battery is still able to maintain its charge level. Any battery that is more than 3 years old should be tested more frequently or replaced.
  3. Don’t forget the coolant – A truck’s cooling system is not just for the summer months. This system, containing coolant, controls the boiling and freezing points as well as offering some protection from corrosion. Checking the inhibitor levels and coolant concentration is a must before cold weather sets in. Older style coolants were known to drop in level pretty quickly, but there are newer coolants available today that can stay in the truck’s system for up to 600,000 miles.
  4. Check the engine heater – Weather the vehicles in your fleet use external, internal or coolant engine heaters, they should be checked as part of a winterization routine as well. This type of heater makes starting a diesel engine in the winter much easier, as they preheat either the coolant or the engine block. Easier starting saves wear on the engine, lowers emissions, and can even increase fuel economy, not to mention the fact that some also provide heat to your driver more quickly.
  5. What about the trailer – Drivers know that winter is as hard on the trailer as it is on the tractor. One frequent trailer problem is frozen brakes that simply refuse to release. Making sure to properly lubricate moving parts during the winter is one of the ways to make sure those brakes work properly when needed. Another way is to make sure all of the air is released from the brakes before stopping for an extended period of time.
  6. Check the electrical system for corrosion – Both tractors and trailers have a 7-terminal receptacle for the electrical trailer cable plug. These are standard throughout North America. This plug is critical as it controls all the lights, signals and antilock devices on the trailer. As such, keeping them clean is always important. It may take a bit more time and effort in the winter, as many chemicals such as magnesium chloride and salt are coming off the road. Prolonged exposure to such chemicals can corrode the contacts and cause the loss of lights, ABS equipment and power. Even more unsettling is the fact that any moisture that makes it into a plug or socket can slowly make its way into the wiring system causing expensive problems later on.
  7. Protect your drivers – Every fleet owner knows that trucks only make money when paired with good drivers. Making sure your valuable drivers have all the equipment they need for winter trucking safety. Such items include emergency flares, a tool kit, bottled water and non-perishable emergency food, waterproof gloves and a working cell phone.

Taking time to properly inspect and prepare each vehicle in your fleet can help to ensure that the wheels keep turning, no matter what mother nature surprises you with.

New Data from ATRI on the Operational Costs of Trucking

In a recent analysis by The American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI), motor carriers’ operational costs of trucking were quantified and documented, providing critical data so they could work to provide correct information to policymakers about how new funding strategies could negatively impact the freight movement. Because this study has been completed for 9 years now, the metrics continue to become more precise, resulting in an invaluable look at how the costs of the trucking industry have changed over time.

Marginal Cost of Operation Influencers

Many types of data were collected in 2016 in order to calculate the marginal cost of operation. These included:

  • Fuel – Fuel costs have represented between 30-40 percent of overall cost per mile during each year the study has taken place. However, prices declined steadily in 2015 and 2016 making the percentage lower for the second year in a row.
  • Equipment – Overall operating costs can be affected by age and type of equipment as well as the turnover rate. In this year’s study, owners of both truck tractors and straight trucks reported longer use before replacement. This trend explains the increased maintenance and repair costs that are predicted to increase.
  • Driver Pay – For the 4th year in a row, driver benefits and pay are both reported to have grown. This is most likely due to a shortage of qualified drivers. According to the American Trucking Association, the currently estimated shortage of 50,000 drivers is predicted to grow to an alarming increase of 175,000 drivers in 2025. In addition to the current and predicted driver shortages, another demographic is predicted to negatively affect the industry as well. This is the fact that over 50% of the qualified workforce is over the age of 45 while less than 5% are between the ages of 20-24. Shortages such as this will continue to push driver wages and benefits higher, further impacting the overall cost of ownership.

A Closer Look at Line Item Costs

Looking at costs with an eye to the long-view helps to give historical perspective to compiled data. For instance, the knowledge that diesel prices were the highest in 2008, topping the pumps near $4.80 per gallon and stabilizing between $3.75 and $4.15 per gallon between 2011 and 2014 gives an understanding of just how relatively low diesel prices dipped in February of 2016 when they reached $1.98 per gallon.

Another cost that the study looked at historically was that of leasing or purchasing equipment. A reported increase in such payments in 2016 brought the current average to 25.5 cents per mile. This increase certainly factors into the higher Cost Per Mile.

Repair and maintenance (R&M Costs) were determined with several factors in mind. These included the age of trucks and trailers, vehicle configurations and technologies used. The average costs in this survey grew by 1 cent, making this the highest recorded year since the data was first collected 9 years ago. This is mainly be attributed to a shortage of diesel technicians.

Commercial truck insurance premiums also rose one percent this year, bringing the total to 7.5 cents per mile. Specialized carriers reported a much higher increase of 9.0 cents per mile. Compiled data verified that carriers with less than 100 power units experienced the highest rise in insurance premiums while the largest fleet operators reported a much smaller increase.

Other line-item expenses that were factored into this year’s study included permits and special licenses, tires and tolls.

Making Sense of the Data

Making sense of all of the data means making calculations that result in understandable bits of information. One such calculation resulted in an average Cost Per Mile (CPM) in 2016. This year’s average was $1.592, up just one percent from last year. Seemingly, the increase in driver wages and benefits was offset by the decrease in fuel prices bringing the averages relatively close together.

In addition, data was compiled to attain the average cost per mile by region. These findings showed the least expensive region to be the Midwest ($1.540) while the most expensive was the Northeast ($1.655).

By documenting and compiling this data, the ATRI has, once again, provided invaluable information which can be used for benchmarking. Such information is frequently used by carriers working to see if costs are in line with a nationwide average.

Commercial Trucking Tips: Avoiding Common Parking Lot Accidents

When you drive trucks for a living, you are constantly aware of the ways that other drivers on the road contribute to possible hazards that you will have to cope with. It’s just part of the territory, and developing a good sense of the pitfalls that come with the open road is just part of the job. What many truck drivers lose sight of, even the experienced ones, is how common parking lot accidents can be and how much extra time and trouble they can cause. It’s easy to overlook the dangers of parking lots, too, because the speeds are lower and traffic tends to be lighter than it is on the road. That shouldn’t lull you into letting your guard down, though. Instead, follow through with these tips for avoiding common parking lot accidents so that you can make sure your vigilance on the road has total follow-through.

Parking Lot Accidents Are Widespread

The first step toward grappling with the dangers in parking lots is realizing just how common parking lot accidents can be. Recent research has found that two-thirds of all trucking accidents involve a collision with a stationary object in a parking lot. That is an incredible number, and it doesn’t even include the number of accidents that involve slow-moving vehicles, pedestrians, or slips and falls when the driver is loading and unloading. On the one hand, these numbers show just how important it is to maintain vigilance in parking lots. On the other hand, they also speak to what a great job most drivers do with vigilance on the roadways. To get a better idea about how to put a stop to parking lot accidents, it helps to look at common accident types.

Basic Types of Parking Lot Accidents

Once you understand the types of accidents, it becomes easier to understand how a few basic trucking tips can help you prevent them all. That’s because the various types of accidents you might encounter all have a few common root causes that you can address with time and patience. Here are the types of accidents you might encounter in a parking lot:

  • Collisions with stationary or even fixed objects
  • Vehicle collisions
  • Intersection crashes
  • Slipping and falling
  • Liftgate injuries
  • Entry and exit injuries

What’s important to realize is that while there are several kinds of parking lot accidents, they can be easily grouped into those involving the truck and those involving only the driver.

Avoiding Accidents Involving the Vehicle

When you are looking to make sure you are safer on the road, your attention and diligence are the main attributes you need to work on. Avoiding distractions is about more than just making sure you have a clear view, though. It also means making sure you have a clear mind. A large number of parking lot accidents happen because drivers are working on other pieces of their job while driving. Whether it’s calling ahead to provide your next 30-minute delivery notification, prepping paperwork, or attempting to rebalance your priorities as you consider the rest of the day’s deliveries, you need to make sure you are putting it aside until you are actually done driving the truck. Otherwise, you are engaging with distractions instead of focusing on the road.

It is not easy to avoid these distractions, because your schedule is likely to be tight and delivery times stacked on top of one another, but if you have an accident, it will do more than delay your next delivery. It could throw your entire schedule for the day off, and it could also lead to consequences with your employer if the accident is determined to be your fault; OR EVEN WORSE. That’s why it is important to make sure you focus on the drive through the ENTIRE drive, even in parking lots at the end of the trip.

Trucking Tips for Avoiding Injuries Outside the Vehicle

The other major accident type, accidents that involve the driver but not the truck, can be harder to prevent. That’s because sometimes, these accidents are due to mechanical failures or to the state of the facilities you are unloading at. In those cases, it is important to have a combination of diligence to avoid any foreseeable accidents and great insurance coverage for when you can’t possibly foresee the accident.

That means you will need to find a carrier who offers you all the coverage your trucking business needs. The coverage needs to include vehicle collision coverage, but they also need to include:

  • Cargo liability coverage
  • Workers compensation and other employee coverage
  • Vehicle damage coverage

Only by making sure you have complete protection from an insurance provider like Western Truck Insurance Services at  www.TruckInsure.com  can you be sure your business is protected in the case of accidents of any kind, from the loading dock to the open road and back again, and considering all the possible pitfalls in between.

How to Avoid Collisions with Deer

Collisions with deer result in billions of dollars in vehicle damage and almost 200 fatalities every year. While there is always a risk of coming into contact with these animals, autumn can be an especially dangerous time, as it is deer mating season and there are more of them around. Drivers should be aware how to avoid collisions with deer in order to be better prepared on the road.

Smaller vehicles definitely take the brunt of damage when they come into contact with large animals. However, deer collisions can result in loss of revenue for large commercial trucking companies as well. Not only is there damage to the fleet vehicles, but also to the loads that are being transported. Situations in which the driver swerves to avoid hitting the animals can be especially dangerous, as the size of the truck can result in flipping of the rig or collision with other vehicles.

Stay Alert in High Risk Areas

Although deer sightings can occur anywhere, there are certain areas that tend to have a higher incidence of animal presence. In order to avoid collisions with deer, staying extra alert in these situations is important. The following circumstances call for increased vigilance:

  • Signs – areas with higher animal populations typically have signs along the road, warning drivers of their presence. Keep speeds at a minimum and scan the area regularly.
  • Mating season – the mating season for deer is at the beginning of fall in many areas of the country. The season for moose and elk is during September and October, and horses tend to mate more in the spring and summer.
  • Less-populated states – states and regions that have fewer people tend to have heavier animal populations, and extra care should be taken
  • Past sightings – drivers who spend a lot of time on the road may notice a pattern of areas in which there are more deer or other large animals
  • Higher activity times – deer tend to be out more during the early morning and early evening hours, and these are often the times it is harder for drivers to see
  • Be aware of the pack – deer typically travel with others. If one is crossing, keep in mind there are probably others behind and drive with caution.

General Safety Precautions

Staying alert in situations in which more deer may be around is a good start to avoiding deer collisions. However, there are other tips that all drivers can follow in order to stay safe on the road.

When driving on a multi-lane road, staying in the center lane is the best place to steer clear of hitting an animal. This allows for a larger space for deer, and gives the driver more time to respond in the event a deer does run onto the road.

Drivers should refrain from swerving. This results in a loss of control and an increased chance of collision with another vehicle. Because deer are unpredictable, swerving can even cause the driver to end up in their changed path.

Drivers should make use of their horn if a deer is sighted. A long blast can frighten the animal and keep them off the road. Hood whistles and other deer scaring alerts have been shown to be ineffective in keeping accidents to a minimum.

To help avoid collisions with deer, drivers should not rely on their headlights. They should not be in overdrive, nor should they be flashed to warn deer. Light can actually temporarily paralyze the deer, in which case they wouldn’t move off the road in time. Also, if the driver needs to stop, applying the brakes slowly and smoothly is the best method.

Although it does not necessarily prevent a collision, wearing seatbelts at all times is important. If the brakes are used forcefully to stop, the safety belt will help prevent injuries. In the unfortunate event of an accident with a large animal, seatbelt use can prevent much more serious effects such as flying through the windshield.

In the Event of a Collision

While following the above guidelines can greatly cut down on the chances of collision, there are times when impact cannot be avoided. If this occurs, there are certain steps drivers should take.

  1. When it is safe, drivers should pull over to the side of the road, allowing other vehicles to move by.
  2. Passengers should remain in the vehicle with the hazard lights on until it is safe.
  3. If the deer is alive, leave it alone. It could be injured and confused, making it dangerous to approach.
  4. Police should be contacted as well as ambulance services if there are injuries to the driver or passengers. Alert them to the presence of the deer in the case of it being a hazard in the road.
  5. Commercial truck drivers should contact their supervisor to report the accident, and drivers of personal vehicles should call their insurance company.

What is the ELD Mandate?

Truck drivers and other commercial motor carriers need to be aware of the ELD mandate, which all commercial fleets must implement by December 18, 2017. Some drivers may be asking, what is the ELD mandate? ELD stands for Electronic Logging Device, and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration passed a rule that requires commercial vehicles to use these devices to electronically record a driver’s duty status.

Prior to the mandate, truck drivers used paper logbooks to record their hours of service. Not only does an ELD reduce the time it takes to fill out the paperwork, it also provides a number of other benefits to drivers as well as fleet and safety managers.

ELD System Functions

Tracking compliance in regard to hours of service is just one of the functions of an ELD system. Some of the others include:

  • Report on driver behavior – this includes information about idling, hard braking, and speeding
  • Map integration and rerouting – helps truckers avoid construction and navigate areas of high traffic
  • Automation of IFTA – makes it easier for companies to report fuel use under the International Fuel Tax Agreement
  • Streamlines DVIR – drivers must record and turn in driver vehicle inspection reports on a daily basis

ELD Benefits

The ELD mandate is expected to result in a number of benefits for both drivers and management. The initial goal of the system was to cut down on the amount of paperwork and increase accuracy. By doing so, it reduces the hassle of having to fill in a paper log every day; saving everyone time.

Dispatchers are able to keep up with a driver’s status in real time, and there is increased communication with those on the road. This helps them plan for the trip more efficiently and make sure everyone is in compliance in regard to the hours of service. Drivers themselves are also able to make better time because their routes are more streamlined thanks to the rerouting function.

For many companies, an ELD system will lead to increased revenue over time. This is especially true for businesses that integrate ELDs with other telematic equipment throughout their fleets. The data gained from these systems can help in the following ways:

  • They can show how to reduce the costs of operations and fuel
  • Show how to proactively maintain fleet equipment
  • Demonstrate how to create more uptime
  • Increase utilization rates

Integrating ELD systems can also improve customer satisfaction. With the optimized routing of trucks, materials and supplies are delivered quicker and with fewer delays.

Improved safety is also a benefit of using ELDs. Commercial trucking companies have a lot of liability, and overtired drivers have always been an issue. Because an ELD keeps track of the hours of service, drivers cannot fudge the time they are on the road. This keeps them more alert and able to stay safer, reducing the number of accidents. In fact, studies have shown that drivers who are well rested log around 10 percent more miles every week and are less likely to quit the job compared to those who work on limited sleep.

The rule surrounding ELDs include articles that prevent drivers from harassment. If drivers feel they have a valid case, the mandate has a provision for drivers to file a complaint with the regulatory board.

Exemptions to the Mandate

While most commercial trucks are required to have ELDs installed by December 18 of 2017, there are exceptions to the rule. Small businesses that have vehicles that are older than 2000 are not required to comply with the new rules. Companies with driveaway-towaway functions are also exempted as long as the shipments include the driven vehicles. For example, the ELD rules do not apply to businesses that deliver new motor coaches, and similar vehicles, to the dealers direct from the manufacturers.

Companies that do not have  long-distance operations,  are not subject to the log book rules, may not need to install ELDs. This is because records that are limited to fewer than eight days every 30 days are part of the exceptions.

ELDs and Tired Drivers

Although the use of ELDs have shown to reduce accidents due to less driver fatigue, the mandate is not enough to prevent tired drivers from being on the road. Companies are strongly encouraged to analyze the data they collect from the ELDs. Comparing different schedules and driving behavior can go far to determine which drivers are the safest on the road.

Some data scrutiny has shown that consistency is important. Drivers who start at the same time every day, no matter what that time is, are at a lower risk on the road. Those who drive irregular shifts tend to have more accidents.

Surprisingly, data has shown that short-haul drivers typically are at higher risk than drivers who drive longer hauls. The theory is drivers with longer drives have more opportunities to take a break and even a short nap if needed.

Truck Roadside Service

Why You Should Have Commercial Truck Roadside Service

If you’ve been in the trucking industry for a while, then you know all manner of mishaps can happen out on the road, some of which you or your drivers might not have the right equipment or knowledge to respond to on your own. Being well-prepared for any eventuality can go a long way in keeping you on schedule and satisfying your customers as well as your employees. Learn why truck roadside service is something you should be sure you have for the benefit of everyone involved in your business.

Lock-Out Service

If one of your drivers were to accidentally lock her or his keys in the truck, it will undoubtedly lead to delays as well as more than a bit of frustration. While a locksmith can always be called, it’s an added and unnecessary expense no one needs to take on. With roadside service, your drivers can have the situation taken care of and get back on the road to their final destination as soon as possible.

Flat-Tire Change

Having a flat tire is another common issue that can lead to delays. While big commercial trucks lose tires all the time, they can become stranded on the side of the road just like the drivers of regular motor vehicles if a tire springs a leak. Something else to consider is the fact that a truck might not handle as well or as safely if one or more of the tires is flat, which puts your drivers as well as everyone else on the road at risk. Roadside service can take care of flat tires safely and efficiently, guaranteeing the job is done right the first time.

Battery Jump Start

Batteries can become just as flat and lifeless as tires. No matter what it was that caused the battery to die, the issue needs to be handled soon and with the help of a professional. Commercial truck batteries and regular automobile batteries aren’t the same, which means your drivers can’t simply ask for a jump from someone in the parking lot or a nice driver passing by. For the job to be done not only right, but safely, it’s better to have roadside service jump the battery back to life instead. A single phone call can do wonders in such a situation.

Towing

Mechanical problems that go beyond batteries and flat tires might require a tow. Because of the size of a commercial truck, a special towing rig and vehicle need to be used so the job is done properly. Roadside assistance companies familiar with working with big trucks know just what equipment and vehicles to use to properly tow a truck somewhere it can be looked over by a professional mechanic.

Mobile Mechanic

Not all breakdowns have to end in a tow to the nearest commercial truck mechanic. Sometimes, mechanics are able to come to your drivers instead. This can be of a huge advantage because it can save your drivers the time it takes to not only get to the mechanic, but having to wait in line if there are other vehicles ahead of theirs. Hopefully, the mechanic can take care of the issue then and there, but if not, at least you’ll have a solid idea of what’s wrong with the truck.

Fuel Delivery

Traveling on unfamiliar stretches of road or simply forgetting to glance at the fuel gauge can lead to an empty fuel tank miles and miles away from a gas station. When this happens, your drivers need a reliable way to get the gas their trucks need and someone who can deliver it to them with ease. Your employees can stay with their trucks while the gas comes to them rather than have to walk for miles to the nearest gas station that has the fuel their trucks need.

Special Perks

Roadside assistance isn’t just great for common traveling mishaps like those mentioned above. For instance, your drivers can enjoy hotel and travel discounts for overnight runs that require them to stay out on the road for extended periods of time. Some assistance programs provide special concierge services for lodging, restaurants and fuel as well as truck stops. Even better is the fact that there are programs that provide members with special discounts on car rentals, medication and even theme parks. You don’t always have to be on the road to enjoy the advantages of being a member of a truck roadside assistance program.

Peace of Mind

As you can see, there’s a lot that can happen out on the open road. Setting out on a run knowing you and your drivers have quick and easy access to such services as those mentioned above can bring your drivers substantial peace of mind, allowing them to do their jobs without worry.

Clearly, there’s much to be gained by joining a roadside assistance program. Do yourself and your drivers a huge favor and start exploring your options today with Western Truck Insurance Services to bring financial and mental security and to allow your business to operate a bit more smoothly.

What You Need to Know About Truck Liability Insurance

Just as you want to properly insure your personal vehicle, the same is most certainly true when it comes to commercial trucks. Not only does insurance provide you and your drivers with peace of mind, it could also be just the thing to keep your trucking business up and running without having to cover insurance-related damages on your own. Learn more about truck liability insurance from Western Truck Insurance Services and why it should be included on your policy.

Different Types of Truck Liability

One of the very first things you should know about liability insurance is there are several different types. Various kinds include:

  • General liability
  • Primary auto liability
  • Non-owned trailer liability & Trailer interchange
  • Motor Truck Cargo Liability

Primary Auto Liability Insurance

At the very least, you should have auto liability insurance on all your trucks, which is a requirement in all 50 states. With this liability insurance, any damage or injuries to other motorists that result from an accident deemed the fault of one of your drivers would be taken care of. In addition to primary auto liability insurance being required in all states, there are also specific minimum limits required, so be sure you meet those limits. Because there might be more than one vehicle and/or person involved in an accident, which can compound costs, it’s often a good idea to have more than the bare minimum.

General Liability Insurance

With general liability insurance, your trucks are covered when they otherwise aren’t on the road, such as when they’re parked at restaurants, in a parking lot and even while loading and unloading. You can also be covered against theft and vandalism. One thing worth pointing out here is that general liability insurance can be broken down into several smaller packages, so be sure you look over and understand your options before reaching a final decision.

Further Examples of Incidents Covered by Truck Liability Insurance

So you understand what you’re truly getting with liability insurance, there are some specific covered incidents we’d like to share. If a package is delivered and later discovered to be damaged, your liability insurance will take care of it without you having to spend money on a replacement. Should anyone become slip and fall inside a truck, any resulting injuries will be handled by liability coverage.

There’s a chance you or your business could be made the target of slander or libel. Should you decide to take legal action, your liability policy will take care of the legal fees, which is sure to bring you great personal and financial relief.

Understand Your Limits

As you can see, there’s a lot that can be covered by liability insurance for trucks. That being said, there’s just as much that is not covered by this particular type of insurance. While you’re talking with agents about cultivating your policy, be sure you ask about your limits and common incidents that fall out of the range of your policy. Even better, ask if there are any riders you can or should add to your liability policy. Also, be sure to ask about insurance restrictions you should be made aware of.

Do What You Can to Lower the Cost of Liability Insurance

Because you’ve got more to pay for than just the cost of truck insurance, it makes sense for you to find ways to reduce the overall cost of coverage. For instance, make sure your drivers remain safe while on the road since their driving records directly influence how much you can expect to pay for coverage.

Just as driving records impact how much you can expect to pay for insurance, the same is true of your credit score. This is because insurance carriers often consider consumers with low credit scores as financial risks who are likely to be poor drivers as well. No matter how you might feel about this comparison, it’s always in your best interest to do everything you can to improve your personal as well as your business credit score.

You should also make sure your drivers are dependable and trustworthy. Putting reckless and poorly experienced drivers behind the wheel can increase the chances of an avoidable accident, which can drive up your premium costs. Additionally, make sure your drivers are well-aware of the latest trucking laws and your company’s safety policy.

To know which types of truck liability insurance are best for you and your drivers, sit down with an experienced agent to go over each type and talk more about where your business is now and where you’d like to take it in the future so you always have the coverage you need no matter how or when things might change.

Choosing the Right Commercial Truck Insurance

While it’s great to have commercial truck insurance to protect your employees as well as your business, you’ve got to make sure you’ve got the right type of insurance and that you work with an agent who knows what she or he is doing to ensure you’re getting the protection and peace of mind you need. Here are a few tips for selecting the right trucking insurance.

You Have Control Over How Much You Pay

One of the first things you should realize is you have more control over the final price of your policy than you might realize. For instance, if your trucks are more expensive, you can expect your premiums to be more expensive as well, which makes perfect sense when you think about it. There’s also the fact that lighter trucks don’t cost as much to insure as heavier trucks.

How you use your trucks also influences how much your insurance will cost. Companies that are service-focused or specialize in retail purposes often don’t pay as much for coverage as businesses that deliver products and goods. While you most certainly shouldn’t base your business on how much you have to pay for insurance, such information is beneficial when determining the ongoing costs of your company.

Ask What Kind of Coverage You’ll Have

Because not all insurance companies operate the same way, clearly ask your agent what kind of coverage the truck insurance policies have. Some of the most common coverage types include:

  • Towing and labor costs
  • Bodily Injury & Property damage liability
  • Comprehensive & Collision coverage for damage done to  your vehicles.
  • Loading and unloading liability
  • Non-owned or Hired Auto coverage, in case you ever need to rent a vehicle
  • Medical payments

Here is where you want to be completely open and honest about the overall nature of your business, where your business is now and where you’d like to take your business in the future; let your agent get to know you and your trucking company inside and out. Make sure the insurance company can offer you the coverage you need.

Explore Your Payment Options

Your company finances will play a big part in how you pay for your insurance. While you can always pay your policy in monthly installments, it’s often less expensive to pay your annual premium in a single lump sum, mainly because insurance companies often offer discounts for doing so. Besides monthly and annually, you might also have the option of paying bi-annually. Once you know which paying option works best for you, see what options your agent  can offer so you get the best deal with the coverage you need. Speaking of which…

Determine How Much Liability Coverage You Need

Liability plays a big part in your insurance policy and your peace of mind if you ever have to file a claim. Again, here is where you want to offer full disclosure to your insurance agent about your business and your business operations. Once you know how much liability coverage you require, compare costs and specific coverage details with the insurance companies you’re considering.

Know Your Limits For General Liability

Another key to getting just the right truck coverage is to know your policy limits; specifically, your occurrence limit and your aggregate limit. Occurrence limit is how much you’ll pay to make a single claim while your aggregate limit is the full amount your coverage will pay for all claims made in a single year. This information helps you determine if you should make a claim for an incident, consider paying the damages on your own or seek a viable alternative without putting your coverage at risk.

Find Out About the Cost of Your Deductible

Because no insurance policy is complete without a deductible, find out what yours will be. While you can always raise the cost of your deductible to lower your insurance premiums, it shouldn’t be so high that you can’t actually afford to pay the deductible should you ever have to file a claim. In any case, it’s best that you always have enough saved up in a business account that you can easily and quickly pay your deductible if need be.

Know How the Claims Coverage Works

To get back to business as soon as possible after an accident, learn how to file a claim the right way and do so in a way that you stand the best chance of having your claim accepted.  Generally, it is best to seek  assistance in claim presentation from your agent.   . Additionally, ask if you can start the claim online or through a phone app to speed up the process in case an adjustor isn’t able to get out to you or your driver ASAP.

It might take some time to find the right truck insurance, but the hard work is certainly worth it. Use these tips and your own judgment to find the best fit.

Trucking Insurance – How does it Work?

Most people don’t understand trucking insurance and haven’t done enough research before buying insurance. When it comes to trucking insurance, business owners have even more options. Let’s discuss the different types of insurance so that when you are ready to buy or renew your business insurance, you will have an idea of what types of insurance will fit into your business plan and goals.

Four main types of commercial truck insurance:

  • Liability insurance (Auto & General) pays for damages you cause. This insurance is usually required by law and is not an option.
  • Bobtail insurance, which is sometimes referred to as non-trucking liability, is a voluntary type of insurance that covers your truck when you’re not under dispatch.
  • Motor truck cargo covers the freight you are pulling. Although this insurance is not required by law, the shipping company may require it.
  • Physical damage coverage bases the premium on the value of the equipment. Your lienholder may require it, but generally it is not required by law. This type of coverage protects your truck against fire, theft and other types of damage. Ask your agent what is allowed and what is excluded. Always understand your policy.

Your business may want to consider these other types of trucking-related insurance coverage:

  • Non-owned trailer liability and physical damage are policies that protect the trailer if it belongs to someone else.
  • Terminal coverage protects freight which is stored at specified terminals for a specified time frame, generally 48 to 72 hours.
  • Warehouse legal protects goods that are stored for a longer time at that the terminal coverage and for which a storage is charge is made. The amount of coverage you want is based on the amount of goods stored. Workers Compensation and/or Occupational Accident Injury Coverage to protect the individuals employed or contracted with.

Obviously, if you never store goods or you own your own trailer, you won’t necessarily be concerned about some of these types of insurance. However, it is good to know that these policies are available to protect your risk exposure. Western Truck Insurance Services is always happy to answer any of your questions about insurance to give you the information you need to make an informed decision.

Saving Money on Your Trucking Insurance

Unfortunately, trucking insurance is one of the largest fixed costs of any trucking business. It’s a very important aspect of your business plan. It makes sense to work with your agent or broker to find the best coverage at the best rates to protect the future of your business and family. Although insurance can seem very costly each year, consider how much it would cost to replace your truck or cover the medical bills of a family injured in an accident. Here are some ways to get the best deals on your insurance:

  • Ask for fixed premiums.
  • Pay your insurance up front instead of in installments.
  • Ask if the insurance company has various discounts for various situations.
  • Talk to your insurer about a safety program. Many times, your insurer will help you put policies and procedures to help you run a better program.
  • Your insurer may also give a discount if your company has a written maintenance plan and a good history of looking after your vehicles.
  • Don’t overstate the value of your truck, hoping to get a better deal if it’s damaged in an accident.
  • It may not be cost-effective to have physical damage coverage on older, low value, vehicles.
  • You may also keep your premiums lower by watching your driving records closely. Make sure drivers obey traffic laws to prevent having traffic offences from accruing.
  • Talk to your insurer about where you keep your trucks, especially when parked overnight. A riskier area of the community may mean higher premiums.
  • As your vehicles get older, you may want to look at upgrading to safer and newer equipment.

Trucking insurance might be expensive, but it’s because trucks are expensive and accidents can be very costly;  especially in today’s litigious society. Trucks often carry valuable cargo which are also  subject to expensive losses.

Now that you understand the types of coverage and some of the factors that go into the costs associated with insurance, you can make better decisions about your own policies to cover your business.