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.

 

 

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.

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 – Cost and Quality

You may not believe how many truck operations purchase their truck insurance coverage on the basis of lowest price. This practice, however, is not just the company’s fault, but also the fault of many truck insurance agents who supply coverage on the basis of lowest price. It is not only unbelievable, but also a dangerous approach to keeping you, your business and your family safe, both physically and financially. Apply the same rules to buying truck insurance as you would to buying any other product or service. When buying truck insurance, consider the following: 

  • Combined Deductibles
  • Emergency Expenses
  • Rental Reimbursement
  • Increased Towing Coverage Limit
  • Personal Effects Coverage
  • Quick and Accurate FMCSA and State Filings
  • Quick and Accurate Certificate of Insurance Issuance
  • No Taxes; No Fees
  • Accurate and Detailed Insurance Accounting Information
  • And the list continues

Keep in mind that not all insurance policies are the same, and neither are insurance brokers. 

Ask your truck insurance agent questions and get complete and understandable answers, and you will quickly learn that, not only can you save money on truck insurance, but you can get more coverage for the money you spend.

How to Get the Best Deal on Your Truck Insurance

Knowing what’s happening in the industry helps Western Truck Insurance Services remain a reliable resource to both clients and prospects. As a result, we are always eager to learn how things are going and what you think about DOT enforcement activities, fuel prices, and the effects of laws, rules, and regulations on your business.

As the market is constantly changing, Western Truck Insurance wants to make sure you get the best deal on truck insurance at your next renewal. Here is a step-by-step approach how we plan to help you.

  • 60 days prior to your renewal date, call us to request an assessment of your situation and risk exposure. Be prepared to allow us to obtain your loss history and IFTA mileage reports. We will need to know the particulars about your business and how much you are paying for your truck insurance.
  • Call your existing agent to inform them that you will be shopping your insurance this year and that you want to be straight forward about it. You want to make sure that you are getting the best price on your renewal quote. Also, let them know that you expect the renewal quote to be available for review at least one month before the renewal date. For emphasis, let them know that you have Western Truck Insurance also working on your behalf.
  • The timing of when you receive your renewal quote speaks volumes about the agent and insurance company. If they are really working for you, they will get your renewal quote to you early enough for proper consideration. “Early enough” is 3 to 4 weeks before your renewal date. Once you receive your renewal quote, call us with the quote amount so that we have complete information to negotiate with. Insurance companies will compete for your business if they know what they are up against.
  • When you get our quote amount, compare the two quotes noting all the differences. We will help you understand the various aspects to the quote. If our number is lower, take it to your existing agent and ask him to beat it. If our coverage levels are better, ask to match them.
  • After you have given your existing agent a second chance, share this new number with us so we can go back to our underwriters and attempt to negotiate a better deal for you.
  • Once you receive our number a second time, you will be ready to make an informed decision. Both brokers involved have been treated fairly and have had two chances to give you their best quote. A fair amount of conversation, analysis, and negotiation will have taken place between you and us and your existing agent by this point.

Consider all you have learned. How do feel about the advice you have received? When fully considering price, coverage levels, quality rating of the insurance companies, and your comfort level with the agents involved… which is the best deal?

  • Make your decision and inform each party.

If you follow this approach, you will get the best deal around. Try it and see for yourself!

Beyond Truck Insurance – Great Benefits that Matter Most.

Most Important Benefits to Get With Truck Insurance

Truckers need to insure their vehicles, and for most, they simply look for the most cost-effective policy at the most reasonable price. It is vital to get good coverage, but as you are speaking with various truck insurance brokers, there are other qualities to look out for. There are numerous benefits to be gained, but you need to seek them out.

Assistance with Resolving Inaccuracies

A big component of the cost of someone’s insurance policy are prior claims and driver motor vehicle reports.  Therefore, a trucking company that has had some accidents in the past will have to pay more for the same policy as a company with a clean history. However, various government agencies make clerical errors all the time, and it is entirely possible a company that has never had a problem will have a mark on its record. When searching for a new insurance provider, it is helpful to try to find an agent who will lend a helping hand in these instances. An insurance agent will most likely have greater success convincing an outside agency to change an error.

Availability to Talk

You will find yourself in situations where you need to talk to your insurance agent and the last thing you want is to deal with someone who is hard to get a hold of. As you are reviewing different policies, pay attention to how easy it is to get in touch with someone. You may contact an agency and get put on hold for a while only to be told the agent is currently out of the office. You want an agent and agency who makes an effort to always be accessible and a live body answering the phone.

Willingness to Give Options

An insurance agent should be there to give you exactly what you need and ask for. An agent will most likely inform you of different services you could potentially benefit from, but ultimately, it comes down to what you and your company need. Always look through a proposal  yourself before making a purchase. An honest, upfront agent will tell you everything and not leave out any important details. That kind of transparency  should be a priority for you  in selecting  an agent.

Buying insurance means you are entering into a partnership, and you want to make this union as viable as possible for years to come. Pay attention to what you are truly receiving  to get the most out of it.

Truck Insurance Rates Fall

Truck insurance rates continue to spiral downward as the long term Truck Insurance providers compete with new Insurance Company entrants into this industry.  Rates are down, on average, about 15% last year from 2006 and it is expected to fall another 5-15% again this year. The home page of Western Truck Insurance shows how much their customers have saved on their rates from 2006 to 2007. Great news for owner operators and trucking companies. Let’s hope the trend continues.