Will the Changes to Freight Broker Requirements Impact You?

Brokers and freight forwarders play a valuable role in the transportation industry often acting as the go between for carriers and consumers. They match willing trucks with loads that need hauling and help get goods from one end of the country to the other. Since those doing the shipping are often unaware of the intricacies and difficulties involved in transportation, brokers and freight forwarders save carriers a lot of trouble by helping ensure everything is ready to go. As any busy trucker knows you don’t have time to spend hours on the phone; brokers and freight forwarders deal with the customer so you can focus on driving (and getting there safely).

The FMCSA recently made changes to the requirements for freight brokers. Will these changes have any impact on you?

Freight Brokers Must Hold $75,000 Surety Bond

Beginning Oct. 1, 2013 the amount of bond a freight broker must hold increases to $75,000, up from $10,000. This is a big increase and will primarily impact small and new brokers. Group surety bonds are not currently allowed, but the FMCSA may revise this after evaluation.

Definition of Broker Changed

Another big change is a change in wording redefining broker as a person that arranges the moving of freight for a fee. The new law specifically prohibits motor carriers from brokering loads unless they are registered brokers. If you arrange for loads to be moved, you must register as a broker, even if it’s just a few loads on the side. Enforcement for this provision might take time to develop as it is difficult to determine how many motor carriers also broker loads.

Motor carriers that want to register as brokers should file an OP-1 Form with the FMCSA. Include your US DOT number, but leave the MC number blank. The FMCSA issues a separate MC number for brokering authority.

Actionable Changes You Can Make

The new laws mean changes for the transportation industry. Here are a few changes you might want to make in accordance with the new laws:

  •  Avoid accepting loads from unregistered brokers.
  •  Register with the FMCSA as a broker if you currently broker loads.
  •  Increase your bond amount if you are a registered broker.

How Will These Changes Affect You?

The full results of this change are yet unknown. It may result in less brokering fraud since it will be more difficult to start up a new operation. Bond premiums will be higher and more difficult to obtain. Freight rates may also increase since the new bond requirements will be more expensive, thus pushing up the cost of transportation. This may also lead to less competition and fewer brokers, especially small brokers. With fewer small brokers large brokers may increase profits and decrease payouts to owner operators. Larger bonds will provide more protection for non-payment. Only time will reveal the full impact of these changes on those across the transportation industry. The one thing we do know however is that these changes will make an impact.

While the FMCSA’s recent changes primarily deal with freight brokers, they will have an effect on all involved in transportation. How do you see these changes impacting you?

Report Claims Quickly and Get the Most from Your Policy

Crunch… it’s a sound no one likes to hear, especially when you’re driving a commercial vehicle.

Unfortunately, accidents do happen, even to the best drivers. In 2011 the FMCSA noted more than 5 million accidents reported to police with 273,000 involving large trucks. Safety can play a big role in helping you avoid these accidents, and when they do occur, knowing how to properly report your claim could be essential in getting you the most out of your truck insurance policy. When you have a claim make sure you report it quickly and thoroughly.

  Reporting a Claim- The Do’s and the Don’ts

  Do…

  ·         Get as Much Information as Possible– After an accident get as much information as possible. This will make it easier for your insurance company to figure out fault and ensure quick resolution of your case. Get as much information as you can from other drivers and passengers involved. Also make a note of any potential witnesses with their contact information.

  ·         Take Photos– A picture’s worth a thousand words, especially after a truck accident. Take pictures any damage (both vehicle and property), the accident scene (skid marks, vehicle positions, debris, etc.), the area where the accident occurred (road signs and markers) and any identifiers (license plates, insurance cards, etc.).

  ·         Contact the Police– While police may not come out to every accident scene, it is always a good idea to advise them of an accident, even if it seems minor.

  Don’t…

  ·         Delay– Report claims as soon as possible after an accident or event. Many truck insurance providers require that claims be reported within 24 hours or a higher deductible will apply. Having to pay double your deductible can greatly increase the cost of an accident. Save money by contacting us as soon as possible after an accident. We’ll help you deal with your insurance company.

  ·         Don’t Admit Fault– Never admit fault for accident, even if you think you might have caused it. Without understanding the complete picture behind the events, you don’t know whose fault an accident is. It’s possible that another driver was drinking or talking on the phone and is responsible. Don’t admit fault to other drivers or the police.

Do You Understand Your Policy?

  Every truck insurance policy is different, but understanding the details of yours is essential to getting the most out of your insurance, especially in an accident.  What’s your deductible? What are your requirements when reporting claims? If you don’t thoroughly understand your policy, take a few minutes and review it. The last thing you’ll want to deal with after an accident is trying to figure out your insurance coverage, although we’re happy to help if you need assistance.

Helping with claims is one of the many services we offer our customers here at Western Truck Insurance Services. We stay on top of your claim from the moment you report it to us, making sure you know what’s going on with your insurance company every step of the way. We only work with truck insurance providers that we trust and you can be sure that we’ll ask the right questions, get the best information and clearly relay any concerns to your insurance company. When we help you process claims you’ll know what’s happening, who’s handling what and how your needs are being met. Accidents are no fun, but with Western Truck Insurance Services by your side, they are a lot easier to handle.

  If it’s been awhile since you reviewed your coverage, give us a call. We can make sure your coverage is the best fit for your situation and give you a truck insurance quote for great coverage from some of the top truck insurance companies.

 

What Does the Future Hold for the Trucking Industry?

With ever rising fuel prices, stagnant cargo rates and increasing regulation, you might be worried about the state of the trucking industry. Are you going to be able to earn enough to support your family? What does the future hold? While we don’t have a crystal ball and can’t predict the future, careful analysis of the industry can shed some light on what changes you can expect in the coming months.

A series of recent investment reports about the trucking industry by Stiefel provide some valuable insights into what you may see in the weeks ahead. Let’s take a look:

·         52% of Truckload Carriers Expect Volumes to Grow Over the Next 12 Months– Increased volume means more work for truckers and higher rates, a very good thing for the industry.

·         CSA Scores Matter-80% of those surveyed indicate that some of their clients care about the safety scores of their drivers. Safe driving will not only help you to impress with your CSA scores, but also obtain the lowest possible rates on your insurance.

·         Driver Turnover Expected to Increase– As the economy continues to recover the turnaround for drivers is expected to increase from 100% to 150%, the level where it was before the recession. Truck drivers tend to switch between industries and as construction and other industries need more workers, driver turnover is expected to increase.

·         Sleep Study Requirement Could Lead to Shortages– If the FMCSA’s proposed sleep study requirement for high BMI drivers passes, a real driver shortage could result. Half of commercial licensed drivers have a BMI over 30. Sleep testing costs as much as $5,000. Many truckers will likely switch industries rather than submit to the testing. Fewer drivers could mean more money for those that remain.

·         Environmental Regulations Have Biggest Impact on Owner Operators– Potential new EPA regulations for fuel mileage could have a big impact on owner operators and smaller fleets. Increasing mileage will require big equipment changes. Smaller operations generally purchase equipment that can do multiple jobs; efficiency requirements may lead to highly specialized equipment that can only do one or two jobs.

·         Increased Expenses– The newer more efficient engines require more frequent maintenance. 40% of fleets reported increased expenses with the new 2010 engines while only 10% noted a decrease.

·         More Owner Operators Expected– Currently half of those receiving operating authority from the government are owner operators. As lease agreements become less lucrative, people decide to go at it alone. Stiefel expects many more owner operators in the coming months.

·         Less Reliance on Brokers– Carriers are choosing to use freight brokers less often. Brokers are most commonly used by companies making less than $25 million annually.

·         ELogs Becoming More Common-ELogs are becoming more common. Currently 42% of larger fleets are using them compared with 12% of smaller fleets. Some drivers are choosing to leave the industry rather than comply with these logs since they unveil unsafe driving practices fairly effectively.

·         Driver Shortages May Get Worse– While unemployment rates still hover at about 7.5%, in the trucking industry there are shortages of workers and they are expected to get worse. Increased regulation may lead to more drivers leaving the industry. Overall there are shortages in many areas in the industry: safety people, mechanics, drivers, etc.

What do you predict will happen in the coming months for the trucking industry? How will these predictions impact the way you drive? While the industry is constantly changing, one thing will always remain the same: we strive to bring you the best rates on great insurance.

General Liability – What is General Liability, Who Needs It, What does it Cover?

A form of Insurance designed to protect Owners and Operators’ businesses from a wide variety of liability exposures.  These exposures could include liability arising out of accidents resulting from the premises or the operations of an insured, products sold by the insured, operations completed by the insured, and contractual liability.

General Liability insurance is the first major layer of protection for claims of bodily injury or property damage against your business.  General Liability covers you, but it also covers many others involved in your business, such as:

  • If you have a joint venture or partnership, all of your partners, members and their spouses are protected if they are sued for something they do in an official capacity related to your business
  • If your business is a corporation, your policy covers all of your business executive officers, stockholders and directors while they are acting in their official capacities
  • If you have subsidiaries, your policy liability coverage extends to any subsidiary where you own at least 50 percent of the stock
  • Your employees are also protected from claims that result from actions they take in their capacity as employees.
  • If you have a written agreement to indemnify a person or organization, such as a vendor, that person or organization would be protected against liability claims for property damage or bodily injury as a result of selling or distributing your products
  • Anyone legally associated with your business, including volunteers working under your direction, are covered for liabilities that result from the work they do for you, and for the use or maintenance of your property that is in their care

What GL Insurance Provides

  • Bodily Injury
    – Covers Medical Costs
    – Loss Of Services
    – Court Awarded Compensation for deaths that result form Injury.
  • Property Damage
    – Physical damage to the property or
    – Loss of use of the property

Coverages

General Aggregate – limit that will be paid during any one policy period.
Occurrence – limit for the sum of damages and medical expenses because of all bodily injury and property damages arising out of any one occurrence.
Products & Completed Operations Aggregate –  limit for damages because of bodily injury and property damage.
Personal & Advertising Injury – limit for the sum of all damages because of all  personal and advertising injury sustained by any one person or organization.
Damage to Rented Premises – limit for damages because of property damage to any one premises while rented to you, or in the case of fire, while rented to you or occupied by you with permission of the owner.
Medical Expenses – limit for all medical expenses because of bodily injury sustained by any one person.

Rating

There are four main ways to rate General Liability:

  • Trucker’s Payroll
  • Gross Receipts
  • Number of Units
  • Area (square feet)

Excess Liability

  • Insurance that is excess over any other insurance, whether it is primary, excess, contingent or on any other basis.
  • Fire, Extended Coverage, Builder’s Risk, Installation Risk or similar coverage for your work
  • Fire insurance for premises rented to you or temporarily occupied by you with permission of the owner
  • Insurance purchased by you to cover your liability as a tenant for property damage to premises rented to you or temporarily occupied by you with   permission of the owner

When this insurance is excess, there will be no duty to defend the insured against any suit if any provider of other insurance has a duty to defend the insured against that suit. If no provider of other insurance defends, we will undertake to do so, but we will be entitled to the insured’s rights against all those providers of other insurance.

  • When this insurance is excess over other insurance, we will pay only our share of the amount of the loss, if any, that exceeds the sum of:
  • The total amount that all such other insurance would pay for the loss in the absence of this insurance
  • The total of all deductible and self-insured amounts under all such other insurance.
  • We will share the remaining loss, if any, with any other insurance that is not described in this Excess Insurance provision.

Comprehensive and Specified Perils

Operators of commercial vehicles, such as truckers, need a number of insurance products.

Automobile Physical Damage insurance covers the damage to, disappearance, or destruction of actual automobiles and/or their equipment, such as tractors, trailers or semitrailers, trucks, or private passenger types of vehicles. Equipment does not include personal effects (clothes, eyeglasses, etc.)

Covered autos are determined by designation symbols that must be tailored to whether the automobile that is to be insured is owned, rented, leased, hired, or borrowed and the type of vehicle. Premiums usually depend upon the type and age of the vehicle, coverages chosen, garaging location, driver information, deductibles chosen, and loss experience

Such coverage is divided into two major components “collision” and “all perils other than collision.” Collision covers striking another object (including other vehicles) and overturn of the vehicle.

Comprehensive:

Comprehensive or “All perils other than collision” include loss by fire, lightning, explosion, theft, windstorm, hail, earthquake, flood, mischief, vandalism, falling objects, or the sinking, burning, collision or derailment of any conveyance transporting the auto. These coverage’s can be purchased on an all inclusive or comprehensive basis.

Specified Perils:

Written on a basis where each peril is specifically described (called named peril or limited specified causes of loss.) Which are listed on the policy page under Section IV – Physical Damage Coverage.

Excluded Perils:

In both cases there are some perils which are excluded from coverage.

Need help with your commercial truck insurance? Contact Western Truck Insurance now.

Protecting Your Business is Serious Business

Work Related Accidents Impact…

  • You and your net worth
  • Your time and focus
  • The company you have built and its Stakeholders
  • Employees and their families
  • Lease Operators and their families

Risk Management is Mission Critical

  • What happens if an employee sustains a work-related injury or worse?
  • What happens if a lease operator sustains a work related injury or worse?
  • How is your exposure as a business owner different in each scenario?

Lease Operator

The Exposure…
The reality of occupational accident exposure is that if Lease Operators do not have coverage, then a serious injury will result in a claim made to the Motor Carrier’s workers compensation policy. Successful or not, you can count on the claim being made.

The Facts…
Occupational accidents and injuries can have devastating effects on an organization without proper protection.  If there’s enough money involved, personal injury lawyers will challenge the financial responsibility of all involved parties.  The related legal defense costs alone can severely impact operating profits and even drive many businesses into bankruptcy.  The coverage to reduce the exposure is both prudent and affordable.

What are the options?

Option #1:
Leave everyone exposed to a “parade of horribles.”

Option #2:
Agree that your lease operators are statutory employees and enroll them in your workers comp plan. This is the most expensive solution and may cause you to absorb the full onslaught of accompanying payroll taxes (perhaps even retroactively).

Option #3:
A Group Occupational Accident Plan for your lease operators allows you to pass through the related costs to them at a group rate, protecting them with 24/7, 48-state coverage, including survivor benefits, and defends your independent contractor agreement with them. Moreover, if you lose in a challenge by a court of law or workers comp review board, the Occupational Accident policy for the injured lease operator can be designed to convert to a ‘full blown’ workers comp policy and eliminate your company’s related contingent exposure.

Key GAIC Advantages for Lease Operators

  • Coverage limit issues, i.e., Plan A, B, C, or D;
  • Commencement Period
  1. GAIC gives 90 days to report a claim, treatment can begin when necessary
  2. Competing policies say treatment must begin in 90 days
  • Sub-limits: e.g., most competitors have $ 1,000 max limits for chiropractic care, ambulance or air flight, physical therapy, & other rehab treatment GAIC does not impose the sub-limit Accidents must be reported within 90 days, benefits can begin immediately upon reporting or at any time thereafter, and are not subject to a 90 day commencement period…and Accident benefits include dental where most competitors do not
  • When a $ 2mm CSL per occurrence aggregate for any one accident is selected, $ 1mm is set aside specifically for medical expenses, & $ 1mm for death, disability, & rehabilitation.
  • GAIC assigns a Nurse Care Manager to help insured deal w/ Psycho-Social issues
  • Temporary and Long-Term Disability Income benefit is based on Schedule C income and retro to day 1 (most competitors impose a 7 day grace period) and applies to the definition of “Under the course of doing business,” which includes maintenance, cleaning, & other misc activities…so coverage is not limited to just driving and loading/unloading
  • The $ 1mm maximum accident medical benefit is annual, not a lifetime one
  • Death benefits apply if death occurs within 2 years (instead of just 52 weeks) from the accident

Important Coverage Points for Fleets

  • Major point:  to keep personal injury attorneys away and adverse decisions from workers comp review boards, fleets need to offer the most broad occupational accident coverage available
  • GAIC does not impose Aggregate Limits on the Group Policy as do competitors…if a fleet has 100 drivers, each with $ 2mm Aggregate Limit, then GAIC’s exposure is $200mm.  A competitor will attempt to sell the same deal but put a $ 5mm or $ 10mm aggregate “stop loss” limit in
  • Average length of disability with GAIC is 29 days, which is 9 to 14 days shorter than before the Nurse Care Manager benefit was introduced.
  • Any expense not covered is a potential black hole liability
  • GAIC’s policy limits are generally higher than competitors
  1. Accidental death benefit pays $ 50K more ($ 300K vs $ 250K), i.e., the $ 2000/month survivor benefit pays for 125 months instead of just 100 months
  2. Accidental Dismemberment pays $50K more ($ 300K vs $ 250K)
  3. Paralysis benefit pays $50K more ($ 300K vs $ 250K)
  • Contingent Liability Feature available to the Motor Carrier as part of the Occupational Accident plan…it defends the lease agreement if a lease operator accident claimant attempts to claim employee status & collect workers comp benefits…and it defends the company in a Court of Law or in a Workers Compensation Review Board…if you lose, the contingent liability feature will pay up to statutory limits of a Workers Comp Policy

Need more information or help? Western Truck Insurance can answer all of your risk questions and help protect you and your business.

WHAT IS STATED AMOUNT PHYSICAL DAMAGE?

Unlike private passenger type vehicles commercial trucking physical damage is often insured on a “stated amount” basis.

Physical damage premiums for private passenger type vehicles are ordinarily determined based on the original cost of the vehicle and its age.  This is practical largely because these vehicles depreciate in an easily predicted fashion.  Heavy commercial vehicles, however, are designed to outlast their engines.  Truck tractors, often traveling well in excess of 100,000 miles per year are designed to have their engines replaced regularly.  The value of the vehicle therefore is heavily dependent upon how recently the engine has been replaced.  A four year old tractor, for example, with a new engine, is worth considerably more than a similar four year old tractor with similar mileage and with its original engine.

Since it is more difficult to determine the worth of heavy commercial vehicles based on original cost and age, truck insurers have developed an alternative method, “Stated Amount” for providing physical damage coverage and determining premium.  The insured “states” the maximum vale of the vehicle and the premium is determined as a percentage of that value.  That percentage decreases as the deductible increases. 

In general lower valued vehicles pay a higher premium percentage than more valuable vehicles because damage that would be a partial loss on a high valued vehicle could be a total loss on an older, lower valued vehicle.

The insured does not automatically receive the stated amount in the event of a loss.  The amount paid is always the least of three possible values:

  • The actual cash value of the vehicle at the time of the loss
  • The cost of repairing or replacing the vehicle with one of like kind and quality
  • The stated amount of insurance for the vehicle

Therefore the most that the insured could collect in the event of a total loss would be the stated amount. 

On a stated amount basis truckers must value their vehicles in advance.  At each renewal the values must be reevaluated.  Automatic coverage is made more complex because of the need for timely vehicle valuations.  Professional underwriters will require insureds to justify in advance valuations that differ significantly from average expectations.  A little time spent resolving these issues when the vehicle is initially insured can avoid serious claims settlement problems following losses.

Truck insureds and truck claims adjusters, however, both favor the stated amount approach.  They like the idea of having an automatic cap on the value of the vehicle.  It makes claims settlement negotiations less contentious.  It is also easier and more accurate to compare competitive quotes on a percentage of value basis.

WHAT IS PHYSICAL DAMAGE INSURANCE?

Operators of commercial vehicles, such as truckers, need a number of insurance products.

Automobile Physical Damage insurance covers the damage to, disappearance, or destruction of actual automobiles and/or their equipment, such as tractors, trailers or semitrailers, trucks, or private passenger types of vehicles.  Equipment does not include personal effects (clothes, eyeglasses, etc.)

Covered autos are determined by designation symbols that must be tailored to whether the automobile that is to be insured is owned, rented, leased, hired, or borrowed and the type of vehicle.  Premiums usually depend upon the type and age of the vehicle, coverages chosen, garaging location, driver information, deductibles chosen, and loss experience

Such coverage is divided into two major components “collision” and “all perils other than collision.”   Collision covers striking another object (including other vehicles) and overturn of the vehicle.

“All perils other than collision” include loss by fire, lightning, explosion, theft, windstorm, hail, earthquake, flood, mischief, vandalism, falling objects, or the sinking, burning, collision or derailment of any conveyance transporting the auto.  These coverages can be purchased on an all inclusive or comprehensive basis, or a basis where each peril is specifically described (called named peril or limited specified causes of loss.)  In both cases there are some perils which are excluded from coverage.

Excluded perils for which no physical damage insurance coverage is ordinarily provided include nuclear hazards, war or military actions, organized racing or demolition contests, wear and tear, road damage to tires, and damage to most electronic equipment not required for the operation of the vehicle.

Although not mandated by law, like automobile liability insurance, physical damage is ordinarily required by financial institutions that loan money to purchase automobiles.  Since the automobile is used as collateral for the loan, the lender needs to make sure that the collateral remains unimpaired.  The insured’s own equity in his or her vehicle is also protected.

There are ordinarily separate deductibles for the “collision” and “other than collision” coverages.  Deductibles are the portion the insured must pay in the event of a loss.

The amount of coverage is ordinarily limited to the cost of repairing or replacing the damaged or stolen property or its value less depreciation.  If an insurer pays a physical damage claim that is the fault of someone else then the insurance company upon paying the physical damage claim assumes the right to recover the cost from whoever caused the claim.

Truck Accident Claims Reporting and Handling

It seems that one of the more consistent areas of needed improvement for truckers, whether large fleet, small fleet or owner operators, is in the approach to claims reporting. This writer, who actively receives claims, has seen the gambit in claims reporting from well documented detail to virtually no information provided at all.

So what’s the big deal?  Why collect any information at all, especially if there will be a police report available anyway? The answer to these questions is not always obvious to the truck driver who is feeling threatened by the consequences, regardless of whether the accident was the driver’s fault.

Approximately 30% of truck accidents are never reported by truck drivers. Most of those “non-reports” are not-at-fault accidents and the drivers just “presume” the other party will take care of their own damages. Many, however, are the result of a driver either embarrassed about the incident or hopeful it will just disappear. Finally, quite a number of these non reported accidents are the result of the driver just not knowing what to do.

Accident reporting is simple. Just about every insurance company and/or agent provides an accident report form directly to the motor carrier or driver. That form is the basis for collecting information about the accident and all drivers should carry that form in their truck. It is the responsibility of fleet safety personnel to make sure the form is in all trucks and that drivers are continuously trained on how to complete it.

At the time of any collision, fire, theft, or other loss, the driver should take a deep breath and go into, what I call, “the data collection mode”. This should be a non-emotional, fact gathering, state of mind. There should be no admitting or blaming for wrong doing with other parties. The driver should immediately grab the accident report form and begin asking questions and documenting information.

The first, and most obvious, is to assess whether anyone is hurt including the other driver and anyone else involved. Assuming the other driver has not been hurt and can actively participate in obtaining details, he/she should get themselves, all other parties, and the vehicles out of harm’s way if at all possible.

Once safely out of danger, the driver should note the date, time, and specific location of the occurrence on the report form. Also write down the description of the other vehicles involved, license plate numbers, and note how many people were in other vehicles.  Again, document this information on the report form. Before the police arrive, the driver should courteously approach the other parties and invite them to assist by exchanging contact information including name, address, phone numbers, email addresses, and insurance information.   No discussion of who was at fault should occur as that only leads to everyone becoming defensive and uncooperative. If the driver has a camera, or phone equipped with one, it is advisable to take pictures of everything.

After exchanging information, the driver should clearly write out an honest description of what occurred along with a graphic diagram of the incident. Doing so will help everyone visually understand the nature of the verbal and written details. Once this has been completed, the fleet safety manager (if applicable), a representative from the insurance company, and/or the insurance agent should be contacted.

Generally, the biggest stumbling block we run into is with the driver not moving quickly to obtain the above information, and then when police arrive and separate the parties, it’s too late for the driver to obtain the much needed information.

Claims that are reported immediately and with complete information are almost always settled at a lower cost than those that are not reported quickly and with detail. All drivers should make sure they carry the claim report form in their vehicles at all times.    

Truck Insurance Agent/Broker Selection Criteria

It has been determined that one of the most difficult things a buyer of truck insurance goes through is how to qualify the insurance broker.   All brokers are not alike and, especially with commercial truck insurance,  the differences can be staggering. 

So what’s a buyer to do ??

It has come to our attention that a recent independent study was done to address this issue.   In that study many areas are covered that deal with learning how to obtain the perfect coverage and pointing out some of the problems with insurance coverage in general but the best takeaway from it certainly is the detailed list of capabilities that a qualified commercial truck insurance broker should be able to do.

This listing solves the problem and all you need to do is inquire from the broker who you may already be using, or plan to use,  if they 1) understand the capabilties you are asking and 2) do actually perform those items.

Check out this link to see the preview of the full study and request it for free.  There is no charge for this vital information which will make your job in qualifying an insurance agent or broker much easier.  Goto:   http://truckinsure.com/slideshow2.html