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.

Are Your Truck Insurance Rates Increasing? Here’s Why.

Truck insurance rates are skyrocketing and the reason is nuclear. We’re not talking about atomic energy, but rather a recent phenomenon in truck insurance known as ‘nuclear’ verdicts. These verdicts are shaking up the insurance industry, causing longtime truck insurers to exit the market, and making it harder and more expensive to get coverage. Here’s what you need to know.

What Are ‘Nuclear’ Verdicts?

When you purchase truck insurance you’re hoping to never have to use it, but unfortunately accidents do happen. Occasionally, when the accident is severe, your insurance company will need to negotiate a settlement on your behalf or head to court. Years ago these settlements were easy to predict, often covering lost wages or hospital bills, but things are changing. Jurys are awarding record-breaking settlements, often millions of dollars higher than lost wages alone. These super-size settlements are known as ‘nuclear’ verdicts and they have the potential to decimate profits for insurers. Since ‘nuclear’ verdicts aren’t predictable, insurers have a difficult time estimating risk and have the potential to lose millions, or even hundreds of millions, on a single claim.

How Are ‘Nuclear’ Verdicts Impacting the Truck Insurance Industry?

The unknown behind ‘nuclear’ verdicts is making truck insurance an unprofitable venture for many insurers, even some of the industry’s biggest. Major insurers including AIG and Zurich Insurance Group AG have chosen to stop offering insurance to for-hire fleets. Other insurers are hiking premiums to keep up with the increased risks and costs. Premiums have increased 10% to 30%.

Trucking companies are already spending a great deal on insurance and the extra expenses will be hard for many fleets, especially smaller ones. In 2015 the average U.S. trucking company spent just over nine cents a mile on insurance premiums. That number is expected to be much higher for 2016.

What Can You Do?

There is little that drivers and trucking companies can do to fight against price increases due to ‘nuclear’ verdicts. We’re working hard to continue to provide the best coverage possible and at the best rates. We work with many of the industry’s top insurers to ensure you’re getting the coverage you need. A stellar driving record and a clean DOT safety record can also help you to lower your rates. Focus on what you can change and strive to keep your record as clean as possible. Learn more about ‘nuclear verdicts’ from this article from the Wall Street Journal.

If you have any questions, get in touch. We’re here to help you ‘Travel with Care’ and that’s one constant you can count on in a changing truck insurance industry.

 

 

Our Favorite Apps for Truckers

Make the most of your smartphone. This handy device isn’t just for checking emails and making calls on the go. With the right apps your phone can quickly become an indispensable work tool, something you use just as often as your logbook or your pocketknife. Here are some of our favorite apps for truckers.

Find a Truck Stop

When you need a hot shower or want to spend an evening streaming Netflix, you need the amenities of a truck stop. Wherever your travels take you, find a truck stop with ease using Trucker Path Pro. One of the top rated apps for finding truck stops this app can help you find and compare options, check fuel prices, and see real-time parking availability. If you have a specific chain you like to frequent, look for their specific app (most big name truck stops have one), but this app is ideal for checking out a broad range of available options. Available for Android or Apple.

Find a Rest Stop

Need a potty break? The USA Rest Stop Locator app can help you stretch your legs, check your load, or find an easy access bathroom anywhere in the U.S. Choose your state or browse the map and quickly find the rest stops nearest you. Available for Android or Apple.

Stay in Touch

You miss a lot when you’re away from home, but video chat apps can make it easier to stay in touch with friends and family back home. Skype is available for most mobile devices, including Android, Apple, Blackberry, Amazon Fire, and others. You can Skype with others for free if they use the service too or can call landlines around the world for set, per minute or per month fees. The Facebook Messenger app also offers video call options.

Log Your Hours

Ditch the paper log and go electronic, without having to spend a fortune on expensive software. If you want a highly quality, easy to use electronic log, try KeepTruckin, our recommendation for ELD mandate compliance. This program automates log audits, alerting to anytime there is an hours of service violation. If you’re tired of faxing in paper logs, go electronic with one of the most affordable and convenient options available. Free and paid plans are available.

Keep Up On Inspections

Manage your required inspections in a snap with the DVIR 2.0 Pre-Trip Inspection app. The app allows for the required signature and reports are easily emailed for up to 100 days. You can even add custom inspection criteria as needed. Available on Android.

Truck Insure On-the-Go

Sending insurance certificates has never been easier. Our mobile app allows you to quickly send your insurance information to brokers, clients, and others with just a few clicks. Fax and email sending options are available. If you use Western Truck Insurance Services for your truck insurance needs, this app is a must.

Do you use any of these handy apps? Which ones are your favorite?

 

Stop Smoking and Drive Healthier: 5 Resources for Quitting on the Road

Odds are, you’re a smoker. Most truckers are, just about 51%. As you well know, smoking is terrible for your health and quitting is hard. Make a healthier choice for yourself and quit smoking. These resources can help.

There is no one guaranteed solution for quitting smoking. Find resources that look like they will help you and try them. If it isn’t working, try something else. Stick to your goal and don’t give up. Quitting is possible and you can do it. Make the decision to quit today and then find a plan to make it happen.

1-800-QUIT-NOW

All states have a dedicated quitline to help smokers as they decide to quit. Services available and hours will vary by state. Call 1-800-QUIT-NOW to get in touch with your state’s quitline. Another available option is 877-44U-QUIT, available Mon-Fri from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. Eastern time.

Freedom from Smoking Online

Support groups are an excellent resource as you quit an addictive habit, but many drivers, especially long haul and over the road truckers, may have a hard time hitting a weekly meeting due to their varied schedule and time on the road. Freedom from Smoking Online is an adaptation of the American Lung Association’s highly successful group program. It can be done on your own time, from anywhere with an internet connection. There is a small fee to register for the program, but with all the money you’ll save when you no longer buy cigarettes, this program is very affordable and is an excellent option for those wanting a group style program without the weekly, in-person meetings.

Smokefree TXT

Are you running low on data? Do you want support without having to use the internet? Smokefree TXT provides 24/7 support and encouragement for those that are trying to quit. Each day you’ll receive approximately five encouraging text messages, helping you to stay on track. To sign up visit https://smokefree.gov/tools-tips/smokefreetxt

Quit Day

QuitDay.org hopes to add 10 healthy years to your life by helping you to ditch the cigarettes. Their website will help you understand why you smoke and will help you identify common setbacks met during the quitting process. They have a page specially dedicated to helping truck drivers quit smoking.

Apps for Quitting

Are you an app lover? Use one of these free apps to help you quit (links are to Android apps, but Apple versions are available too):

Tips for Success

Quitting smoking can be especially difficult for truck drivers. You spend hours alone driving, time that you probably filled with cigarettes. These tips may be helpful.

  • Try Sunflower Seeds and Gum– Many truckers find it helpful to stock up on sunflower seeds and gum for those long, boring stretches where you’re used to smoking. Make sure you have something to do as you drive so you can break the smoking habit with a healthier option.
  • Talk with Your Doctor– Your doctor may be able to prescribe treatments to reduce your urge to smoke. Ask them about your options.
  • Get a Buddy– Everything is more fun when you do it with a friend. A quit buddy may make it easier to stop smoking. This resource guide from the University of Alabama will help you enlist a family member, friend, or fellow trucker for help on your quitting journey.
  • Do it for You– Quitting is hard and the only way to be successful is to want it. Why do you want to quit? Remind yourself of the reasons that you’re quitting every time the going gets hard.

Live longer and feel better. You might drive a truck, but that doesn’t mean you have to smoke like a trucker. Quit smoking today!

Saving Money on the Road- 3 Tips for Truckers

Do you have a money problem? Many truck drivers struggle with their finances, relying on payday advances and loans to pay the bills. If you’re sick of living paycheck to paycheck or want to finally build up some emergency savings, this guide will give you some actionable tips for saving money on the road.

If you’re already in the hole with too much credit card debt or in the habit of payday loans, making financial changes isn’t going to be easy. Stick with it, even when it is difficult. A better financial future is possible, but you are going to need to put in some work to get there.

Stop Eating Out

What does your typical dinner look like? If you subsist on burger, fries, milkshakes, and truck stop fare, you’re not doing your body or your budget any favors. If you spend just $10 a meal, three meals a day you’re spending just over $200 a week on food, just on yourself. Save yourself a ton of money and stop eating out.

Without a stove, microwave, and sometimes without even a fridge, eating on the road can seem impossible, but it is doable. Salads and sandwiches are easy to throw together on the fly. Make a quick trip to the grocery store and pick up a few essentials (packaged lunch meat, cheese, bagged salad mix, salad dressing, peanut butter, bread, snacks, etc.) to stock in your truck. If you don’t have a fridge, stow your food in a cooler and replace the ice as needed.

By skipping the restaurants and eating on your own you can easily cut your food budget in half, or more, and you’ll eat better too.

Make a Budget… and Stick to It

If you want to spend less and save more a budget is essential. A budget does more than tell you what to spend; if done correctly it can help you notice spending problems and curb expensive habits.

When you’re on the road you’ll need two budgets: one for your family back at home and another for your expenses in the truck. Base your budgets on the amount you earn during a low mileage week. On weeks when you earn more, put the extra in the bank or use it to pay down debt. This is an excellent way to build up your savings.

Make sure you’re tracking your spending. Write down each purchase and keep a log of what you’ve spent. Go back to analyze your purchases and see how you stacked up. Find problems and make changes as needed.

Don’t Get Cash Advances or Payday Loans

When you’re in a cash crunch a payday loan is incredibly tempting, but these loans don’t actually fix your cash problems; they just delay them. Borrowing $150 from your next check means that you’ll start that month $150 short. Next month you’ll need to borrow more, just to stay afloat.

Live within your means, even if that means scaling back. Find a way to spend less so you can stop relying on payday loans to get through the month. If you’re currently living in the payday loan cycle, get out by creating a new budget (using your low mile income) and spending the extra to pay down the debt.

Other Ideas for Saving Money on the Road

These three tips are biggies for getting your spending and budget under control, but they aren’t the only ways to save. Try some of these bonus ideas too.

  • Automatic Bill Pay– Automatic bill pay is a lifesaver when you’re on the road. Skip the late fees and know that your bills will always be paid on time.
  • CDL Discounts– Many hotels and restaurants offer CDL discounts. If you’re going to eat out or stay in a hotel, it doesn’t hurt to ask if there’s a discount.
  • In-Network ATMs– If you need to get cash, use an in-network ATM so you don’t have to pay expensive fees. If you can’t easily find access an in-network ATM, use your card as debit when buying groceries and get cash back to skip the fees.
  • Truck Stop Rewards– Truck stop reward programs offer some great perks, including shower credits and free drinks, and many don’t charge for signing up

What are your secret tips for saving money on the road?