Blog

What’s the Difference Between Commercial Property and Commercial Equipment Coverage?

What’s the Difference Between Commercial Property and Commercial Equipment Coverage?
For many property owners, the need to carry insurance to protect their land and everything on it is a standard and vital need. Property owners should evaluate what needs to be protected and then re-evaluate on a regular basis to ensure overall integrity.

But the decision to protect everything from heavy equipment to the garages, per se, that house them can bring some confusion. Ultimately, it’s imperative for business owners to invest in the right coverage to protect what is theirs, and educating oneself in regards to finding the right policy or policies needs to be at the beginning.

When a transportation company fires up a new big rig, they reach for dependable truck insurance. So why shouldn’t a business that operates with machinery or houses such equipment find coverage? Let’s take a look at the different between commercial property insurance and commercial equipment insurance:

Commercial Property Coverage

Depending on your company’s location, you may not be required by law to obtain commercial property insurance. However, a business may be required to do so by their lender. Most business owners make a choice to purchase this kind of insurance policy because of the wide range of protection that it provides.

Property that is being leased can also be insured under this policy as well as property that is owned by somebody else. Commercial property coverage provides insurance for any number of buildings, finished additions,  and other business personal property that are part of a business operation.

Specifically, this coverage applies protection for various types of commercial property. You can equate this to coverage for buildings and personal property  in a business. What’s more, if a business suffers a loss, commercial property insurance can provide coverage for lost income and extra expenses. Make sure to assess everything that needs to be covered or have an insurance broker determine what and how much needs to be put under a personalized policy.

Commercial Equipment Coverage

Commercial equipment coverage is also referred to as contractor’s equipment coverage. This policy provides protection for various equipment and machinery from physical damage. This policy goes a step further beyond commercial property insurance by covering what is not designed to be protected under the policy above.

Consider this: Does your business use heavy equipment such as tractors, backhoes, and forklifts? Then this coverage is tailor-made to protect against damage of those items. More often than not a business’s assets are tied up in heavy equipment, making this kind of protection a high priority.

Most people think that a policy like this only refers to physical damages, but it also includes loss due to theft. Stolen heavy equipment numbers are on the rise and commercial businesses need to do what they can to protect against such loss. Depending on where you are at in the country, your heavy equipment may be at a higher risk of being damaged or stolen.

Be sure to work with an insurance broker to understand what your business needs in terms of coverage and what needs the most protection.

About Western Truck Insurance Services

Western Truck Insurance Services is much more than a commercial truck insurance agency. Since 1954, we have provided our clients with unparalleled service for truck insurance quotes, customer service, coverage charges, insurance certificates, and more. We are committed to providing our clients with the service to keep their costs to the minimum and their opportunities to the maximum. For more information about our products and services, give us a call at (800) 937-8785 to speak with one of our experts.

More Than Just Posture – 3 Tips for Better Driver Ergonomics

More Than Just Posture - 3 Tips for Better Driver Ergonomics
Did you know that proper ergonomics is just as important of an aspect of truck driver health and safety as it is for those who work in offices? Each year, thousands of drivers are plagued by neck, back, and spinal issues associated with poor posture. Truck drivers are among the
top professions to be out of work due to injuries, and ergonomic injuries are wholly avoidable by making only a few small changes

Most people don’t consider it, but the simplest way truckers can help prevent these types of ailments is by taking the same proactive steps designed for improved posture that are recommended for desk dwellers. Here are three vital ergonomic ideas to consider.

#1: Make Seat Adjustments

Similar to choosing the right type of desk chair, one of the easiest ways to ensure your cab is as safe as possible is to pay attention to seat adjustments before you even start the engine. Begin by making sure your feet can comfortably reach the gas pedal, clutch, and brake. Then adjust the seat’s backrest so that your arms are at a slight angle while you are holding the steering wheel. You’ll also want to raise the seat as high as you can while still being comfortable and tilt the seat cushion so that your thighs are fully supported without putting too much pressure on your knees.

#2: Remember Your Posture

Another vital thing to remember is your overall posture inside the truck. No matter how fatigued you become, don’t ever slouch while driving which can cause strain on your muscles and joints. This may take a bit of practice at first, but remembering to sit up straight can help prevent neck and back pain. It is also important to change your position in the seat slightly every half hour. While it isn’t always possible, try to take breaks when you can to get out of the vehicle and stretch.

#3: Maintain Good Habits When Outside the Truck

Keeping up with good health habits when you are off the road is also important. Exercises such as yoga or Pilates are excellent for strengthening your core area, which can help support your neck, back, and spine more efficiently when you are driving. And remember to correct your posture while sitting in a chair in your living room, hotel, or even at restaurants. Practice really does make perfect.

While truck drivers don’t spend their days in an office per se, a healthy and safe working environment is just as important. Protect your body by implementing the above ergonomic tips as soon as possible.

However, in addition to having these best practices in place, all truck drivers, whether they are full-time employees or independent contractors, should have truck insurance that provides coverage for injuries incurred on the job, whether it is Workers’ Compensation for full-time employees or Occupational Accident for independent contractors and owner-operators.

About Western Truck Insurance Services

Western Truck Insurance Services is much more than a commercial truck insurance agency. Since 1954, we have provided our clients with unparalleled service for truck insurance quotes, customer service, coverage charges, insurance certificates, and more. We are committed to providing our clients with the service to keep their costs to the minimum and their opportunities to the maximum. For more information about our products and services, give us a call at (800) 937-8785 to speak with one of our experts.

What Drivers Need to Know About Personal Conveyance

Personal conveyance has been an issue for truckers and truck owners, and now the FMCSA has responded.

For many trucking companies, December of 2017 marked the beginning in a whole new, electronically monitored, era in trucking. December was the deadline when companies were required to provide an Electronic Logging Device (or ELD) in each truck. Though the tiny flash drive type device plugged into the engine control module of the truck does not look like much, many truckers have stated publicly that this new mandated “mini boss” has made life more difficult instead of having the intended effect of making America’s highways and byways a little safer.

The ELD Deadline has Passed, now what?

Why the Mandate?

Those who support the new law insist that it makes perfect sense to replace the decades-old practice of having drivers record their own hours of service in a paper logbook. Some state that the new electronic logs will be more accurate while others insist they will be more difficult to rewrite when extra time is needed. They also insist that drivers will save time because they will not need to compile so much paperwork and that dispatchers will have a reduced workload with the ability to see all electronic information at a glance.

What is the Reality?

In reality, the hours of service that truckers are allowed to be behind the wheel have not changed. These current hours of service rules state that a driver may be on duty for 14 hours out of 24 but must then spend 10 off-duty hours before driving again. And while this sounds reasonable to most individuals, truck drivers and fleet operators know that current hours of service regulations combined with ELD regulations have brought a host of unanticipated problems. Sadly, these problems cost carriers money, time, and the ability to earn a living as kinks in the system are being worked out.

Faulty ELD Systems

Anyone who says they have never seen technology fail might not understand what technology actually is. The FMSCA reported in March of 2018 that more than 300 ELD devices on the market do not even meet the specifications needed so a driver can show logged hours to a member of law enforcement if they are pulled over. As bad as this is, it does not even begin to cover the number of units that have been sold and do not work properly.

There are too many drivers being ticketed simply because their ELD quits working at random times and they are unable to connect with the needed tech-support people. Some drivers say they have spent as many as 15 hours on the phone, both on hold and with a company representative trying desperately to get the required technology working. And this is time when the truck is still, the wheels are not allowed to roll, so no money is being made.

Add to this the fact that some ELD systems do not calculate hours or mileage correctly, some even showing that a driver is in an entirely different state and the new ELD requirement has had a very rocky start.

The “Right Now” of Electronic Logs

One basic thing that electronic logs lack is the ability to think, plan and consider as a human being might. And this leaves too many drivers dealing with a system that tells them to do x,y, or z immediately.  Drivers, however, know that this is not always possible.

For instance, when a driver is heading for a place to get loaded or unloaded and the system suddenly says that the 14 hours of driving is up, the system wants the driver off the road immediately.  Right now.  And this is simply impossible as parking a semi for the night requires more than just pulling off the road and setting the brake.

New Personal Conveyance Guidelines

Thankfully, the FMCSA listened to what drivers were saying about not being able to find parking quickly enough to satisfy the system and published some new guidelines about personal conveyance at the end of May.  Previous guidelines date back to 1997 and state that “laden” vehicles could not be used for personal conveyance (or getting to a safe parking spot).

The new regulations state there may be valid reasons for a driver to continue driving, whether there is a load on the trailer or not. The new guidelines allow for drivers to use their vehicles to get to a nearby safe parking place. To date, no limits have been set on distance but most drivers understand that they will be required to produce the ELD logs should they get pulled over, and that an officer has the right to determine if they have driven too far under the personal conveyance guidance.

Personal Conveyance Essentials

There are a few nitty-gritty parts to the new personal conveyance stipulations that drivers should know.  They include:

  1. The new guidelines are not legally required. A carried may decide to allow or not allow personal conveyance in a company vehicle.
  2. If a carrier allows personal conveyance, they are not allowed to place limits on things such as number of miles or times of day.
  3. Clear company policy on personal conveyance should be provided to each driver.
  4. Personal conveyance may only be used during off-duty hours.

FMCSA is Listening to Drivers and Carriers

At the very least, the changes to personal conveyance stipulations show that the FMCSA is listening to what drivers and carriers are saying about the new electronic logbook mandate. Hopefully, things will only get better as drivers, carriers and the government work together to find solutions that will truly make the industry better for all involved.

How Truck Drivers Can Stay Safe in the Summer Heat

How Truck Drivers Can Stay Safe in the Summer Heat
Now that the sweltering months of summer have arrived, many truck drivers find themselves facing some unique safety challenges behind-the-wheel. Fortunately, there are a few simple tips all truck drivers can follow to keep themselves and other motorists safer this summer.

Save Yourself From Sunburn

Exposure to UVA and UVB rays is a risk for truck drivers year-round, but this is especially true during the summer months, when truck drivers are less likely to be wearing protective layers that would otherwise limit their exposure to the sun’s harmful rays. While driving during daylight hours, make sure you apply (and re-apply) a quality sunscreen at least every few hours. Wearing sunglasses and/or a hat with a brim while driving can also protect your eyes from sun damage while allowing you to avoid dangerous glare and other obstructions.

Keep Your Truck Maintained

When was the last time you had the tire pressure checked on your truck? If it’s been more than a week or two, be sure to have this done; this is an important maintenance task year-round, but especially during the hotter months of summer, when truck tires are more susceptible to blow-outs. The same goes for checking and servicing your brakes, as hotter temperatures can make it easier for your brakes to overheat and create a major safety hazard while driving.

Load Up on Hydrating Fluids

Drinking plenty of water while behind the wheel is one of the best decisions you can make to avoid dehydration and the side effects (such as fatigue) that can come along with it. While it may be tempting to choose an iced coffee, soda, or other caffeinated beverage over plain water, it’s important to stay well hydrated during the sweltering months of summer. To make sure you’re drinking enough water, consider investing in a quality insulated water bottle that you make an effort to fill up at least a few times a day during your travels.

Be Alert on Crowded Roadways

Highways and roadways tend to be more crowded during the summer months, especially as children are out of school and families are taking more vacations and road trips. With this in mind, it’s more important than ever to stay alert on the road, especially during times of heavy traffic. Above all else, try to maintain your patience and remember your safety training when navigating busy roads.

Summer time can be a more dangerous time for truck drivers—and for a number of reasons. By following these practical safety tips and making sure you’re protected by the right commercial truck insurance, however, you can keep yourself and other motorists safe. Reach out to the Western Truck insurance team today for more information.

About Western Truck Insurance Services

Western Truck Insurance Services is much more than a commercial truck insurance agency. With roots dating back to 1954, we have provided our clients with unparalleled service for truck insurance quotes, customer service, coverage charges, insurance certificates, and more. We are committed to providing our clients with the service to keep their costs to the minimum and their opportunities to the maximum. For more information about our products and services, give us a call at (800) 937-8785 to speak with one of our experts.

Truck Driving at Night – 5 Safety Tips for Driving Semi at Night

Truck driving at night has its pros and cons. For many truckers, nighttime is the best time to drive. In most locations, this means no cars on the road, less roadwork and beautiful views. That said, truck driving at night can be dangerous. Half of all traffic accidents occur in the evening and night hours. Those accidents are typically the result of one main factor: fatigue. According to several studies, drowsy driving is just as dangerous as drunk driving, and comes with many of the same side effects, including confusion, hallucinations, muscle weakness, impaired decision making and slow reaction times.

Drowsy driving is a top cause of trucking accidents, which is why the federal government stepped in and created truck driving regulations that all drivers—whether self-employed or employed, and throughout all states—must abide by. A few of those regulations dictate how many hours a trucker is permitted to drive in any given workday and workweek, and how often a trucker must stop to rest. However, none of those regulations dictate during which hours a trucker must haul his or her cargo.

How Long Can Truckers Drive Before Taking a Break?

Of course, fatigue isn’t the only cause of night time accidents. Other factors that may lead to accidents at night include:

  • Reduced vision
  • Wildlife
  • Drunk drivers
  • Human error

Truck Driving at Night – 5 Safety Tips

If you’re a trucker and routinely drive at night, there are a few tips that you can implement to stay safe while on the clock.

Avoid Drowsy Driving

Of course, this is easier said than done. Nobody plans to be tired, but there are steps you can take to decrease your risk for fatigue during your normal driving hours.

First and foremost, get a good night’s sleep, and not just the night before you’re set to drive. Get a good night’s sleep every night, as inadequate sleep will catch up with you. Some other things you can do to reduce the risk of drowsy driving incidents include taking regular breaks, sharing the drive, staying alert for other tired drivers and pulling over to take a nap when you begin to feel tired.

Avoid Impaired Vision

Impaired vision is not uncommon at nightfall. No matter how great you think your vision is, certain factors can get in the way of what lies on the road ahead. Some such factors include your dashboard lights, a dirty windshield, oncoming traffic, driving too fast, using your phone or not wearing the proper eye gear. Some steps you can take to reduce accidents caused by impaired version include:

  • Dim your dashboard lights
  • Drive the speed limit
  • Avoid looking at oncoming traffic
  • Refrain from using your phone
  • Clean your windshield
  • Wear prescription glasses (if required)

Ways to Reduce Distractions While you Drive

Keep Your Eyes Peeled

No matter how safe of a driver you are, there is not much that you can do about other drivers on the road, or wildlife for that matter. Both wildlife and drunk drivers have a tendency to come out of nowhere, which can mean bad news for those driving truck at night. Though you cannot necessarily prevent an animal or impaired driver from crossing your path, you can control how you react to it. By remaining vigilant and keeping your eyes peeled on the road ahead of you, you can give yourself adequate time to prepare and act accordingly.

Maintain Your Vision

You cannot control the vision you were born with, but you can control what you make of it. The American Optometric Association recommends that all individuals, and not just those with bad vision, get checkups every three years before the age of 40, and every two years between the ages of 40 and 60. An optometrist can ensure that your vision is healthy and, if it’s not, ensure that you have the contact lenses or glasses so that it appears that way.

Drive the Speed Limit

You may be in a hurry to get to the next job, but driving fast may set you back even further. Speeding can result in both traffic tickets and accidents. If you’re driving too fast, you may not see that animal jump out at you, or that drunk driver coming from the side. Do yourself and others on the road a favor and drive the speed limit.

Truck Drivers – Nighttime Driving Safety Tips [YouTube Video]

Night Driving Recap

Truck driving at night can be both peaceful and rewarding, but it can also be dangerous. Stay safe and drive smart by implementing these simple tips into your routine:

  • Avoid drowsy driving
  • Avoid impaired vision
  • Keep your eyes peeled
  • Maintain your vision
  • Drive the speed limit

If you are involved in an accident, your trucking liability insurance should be able to cover the cost of damages. However, insurance is just a fallback measure, and it cannot keep you or other drivers on the road safe from harm. Your own common sense and good judgement can. Exercise both when out on the open road and you may be able to avoid night time accidents altogether.

Why Crime Insurance is a Necessity for Trucking Operations

Why Crime Insurance is a Necessity for Trucking Operations
Trucking operations are a prime target for theft and criminal activities. Cargo theft in the U.S. is more common than people think. According to the
FBI, the annual economic loss due to cargo theft is around $30 billion – reporting that the average cargo loss in 628 incidents in 2015 had a value of $44,426 per case.

What About Employee Theft?

Thieves scout for vulnerable trucks with poor security measures in place where cargo can be stolen easily – and some of those thieves may be trusted employees. Insurance for crime coverage in trucking operations is generally limited to motor truck cargo insurance and warehouse legal coverage. Since standard insurance policies have an exclusion for coverage of employee theft, criminal activity by your own employees isn’t covered. In order to bridge the gap between what is covered for cargo and warehouse losses and potential employee crime, you need a crime insurance policy which specifically addresses employee theft.  

Reducing Employee Theft

While it’s crucial that you cover your trucking operation with a crime insurance policy for employee theft, there are security measures you can put in place to reduce the possibility of being a victim of employee crime:

  • Never leave a loaded truck unattended, or without security, on your property or allow a driver to take a loaded truck home.
  • Ensure that drivers maintain regular contact with dispatch during every part of the shipping process.
  • Have a closed-mouth policy about your operations. Train your drivers and employees to be careful about what they say to fellow employees as well as friends and family. Train them to refrain from talking about the cargo in the trucks, and to not give out route information to people not in the chain of command.
  • Make sure all employees and drivers follow delivery and pickup protocols. Have a procedure in place for checking all ID from any personnel who unload a truck – each time. Audit your protocols regularly.
  • Screen for dishonest employees before hiring them. Run a comprehensive background check on all employees, not just the ones who have direct access to cargo contents, shipping, and routing information. If they claim to have worked in the trucking industry before, contact every reference they provide.
  • Have periodic security training for all employees.  
  • Pay attention to employees who don’t follow directions, don’t follow protocol, are loose with standards, and if there are security breaches, don’t keep them on.  
  • Use technology to manage security and route shipments, and have a system in place to act quickly if a truck goes off its route.  

If you have employees in your trucking operation, you need a crime insurance policy to cover employee theft, even if you have truck cargo insurance and warehouse insurance coverage. If you have questions about your trucking insurance needs, we have answers. Give us a call today or stop by and speak with one of our insurance specialists.

About Western Truck Insurance Services

Western Truck Insurance Services is much more than a commercial truck insurance agency. With roots dating back to 1954, we have provided our clients with unparalleled service for truck insurance quotes, customer service, coverage charges, insurance certificates, and more. We are committed to providing our clients with the service to keep their costs to the minimum and their opportunities to the maximum. For more information about our products and services, give us a call at (800) 937-8785 to speak with one of our experts.

Cook in a Semi Truck – Great Tips to Eat Smart While on the Road

Want to cook in a semi truck? If you’re tired of greasy burgers, so-so tacos, fried chicken and all you can eat buffets, you’re not alone. A trucker’s diet can be hard on the body and morale. In fact, some truckers are so fed up with eating unhealthy and flavorless meals they devise ways truckers can cook home-style meals on the road.

If you’re tired of spending your hard-earned money on gas station food and fast food joints, change your ways and start cooking on the road. With a little bit of planning and the right truck driver cooking equipment, you can start cooking on the road in no time.

Invest in the Right Equipment

If your truck isn’t already equipped with a mini fridge, stove, microwave, coffee pot and crock pot, chances are you’re new to the industry. Take a look at any trucker’s rig and you’ll discover that the back of their cab resembles a mini studio. A 12-V cooler can keep your drinks cool on hot summer days, and a mini coffee pot can ensure that you always stay energized no matter the time of day.

Tools Every Truck Driver Needs On the Road

There are plenty of safe cooking appliances as well. Small microwaves, electric frying pans and grills and lunchbox ovens are all perfectly safe ways to prepare a homemade meal on the go. If you’re more of the outdoorsy type, get a small propane grill. However, make sure that you take it outside before you light it up, otherwise you risk carbon monoxide poisoning.

Before you go around buying all of the above listed appliances, make sure that your truck’s power supply can handle them all. You don’t want to sacrifice a load just because you decided to make a homemade pizza in your new mini pizza oven.

Stock Up on Easy-to-Prep Food Items

Steak, potatoes, chicken breast, asparagus, cheese, bread, carrots…there are plenty of foods out there that don’t require much prep work to make yet that still taste good going down. Those foods also happen to be good for you. Before you hit the road, make a list of the meals you’re going to want to eat and what you need for each. Then hit the grocery store. Remember, you’re working with limited space, so don’t treat your grocery shopping as you would when shopping for your home.

When shopping, remember that the point of making your own foods is two-fold: to save money and to eat healthier. While one meal a month of steak and potatoes is actually good for you, loading up on just steak and potatoes is both bad for your body and your wallet. Stick to cheap, bulk foods that still deliver a nutritional punch. Think chicken, fish, turkey, yogurt, fruits and veggies. Don’t forget the spices, as you probably want to enjoy more flavorful foods than your average Mickey D’s can deliver.

Meals for Every Meal

If you’re not much of a cook, it can be hard to come up with easy-to-prepare meals that are both tasty and healthy. It can also be difficult to come up with variety. If you need some inspiration, consider making the following meals:

Breakfast

  • Omelets
  • Waffles
  • Oatmeal
  • Pancakes
  • Eggs
  • Turkey bacon

Lunch

  • Sandwiches
  • Salad
  • Leftovers
  • Tuna
  • Pizza
  • Mac and cheese
  • Grilled cheese

Dinner

  • Stew
  • Pot roast
  • Burgers
  • Hotdogs
  • Steaks
  • Chicken
  • Soup
  • BBQ pork
  • Stroganoff

Of course, you don’t want to forget sides and snacks. Pastas, rice, fruits, veggies and salads make for tasty and healthy sides to any of the above. If you have a sweet tooth, pack a pint of ice-cream or freeze a candy bar or two for an after-dinner treat.

When in Doubt, Meal Prep

If cooking in a semi truck doesn’t sound appealing, or if you just don’t trust yourself to summon up the energy and willpower to prep your own meals come meal time, consider simple and delicious meal prep ideas for truck drivers. If you have a spouse, let him or her give you a hand. In fact, meal prepping could be your guys’ way of bonding while you’re out on the road, and it can even allow you two to “share a meal” even when you’re miles apart.

Bonding moments aside, meal prep only requires a few hours of your time but can yield amazing results. Some people have gotten so good at meal prepping that they can make a whole week’s worth of food in just a few hours’ time. Those meals are generally healthier than what many other people make fresh. Once your meals are made, you can store them in small, reusable containers, which you can easily stow in your mini fridge. Plus, by meal prepping, you can save space on appliances and allow you more room to sprawl out at night.

Just because you’re a trucker doesn’t mean that you have to eat poorly. With the above tips, cooking in a big rig can be easy and fun, and, if cooking on the job doesn’t appeal to you, you can always jump on board the meal-prep bandwagon.

Tips for Avoiding and Recovering from Skidding in a Big Rig

Though they are commonplace on the highways and byways of the United States, many drivers of non-commercial vehicles know little about the massive size, weight and power of 18-wheelers. Sadly, this lack of knowledge frequently means that these drivers make many mistakes around the big rigs, mistakes that may result in the loss of many lives.

Most of today’s semis have two drive axles and one steering axle. The trailer is attached fifth-wheel style and can move forward or backward over the back axles to help make sure weight is distributed evenly. Pulling only one trailer, a typical tractor-trailer weighs around 73,000 lbs. Due to the massive weight of the vehicle, normal driver reaction time and speed, a semi-truck can take up to 525 feet to fully stop. This comes as a surprise to many non-commercial drivers because normal cars and trucks can typically stop in less than 200 feet.

Knowing Your Rig

New truck drivers receive comprehensive training about driving, following distances, weather conditions and many other occurrences that may impact their driving. One of the most important parts of training is what drivers learn about skidding. In essence, a skid means that a semi’s wheels have lost grip of the road which means the driver has lost control of the semi.

Being familiar with your truck is critical to avoiding a skidding semi-truck. For instance, being familiar with the brake pedal in your vehicle can help you to apply the right amount of pressure instead of slamming on the breaks. Unfortunately, brakes that are hit with too much force frequently cause at least one set of tires to lock up and skid. And once the trailer enters a skid, it can be difficult, if not impossible to stop.

Knowing your vehicle also helps to understand stopping distances with reference to how much weight is on their trailer, what weather is doing and how heavy traffic is. One good rule of thumb for commercial drivers is that they should always overestimate how long it will take to stop. In cases where drivers underestimate this distance, a trailer may skid into a jackknife and may need to be towed back to safety.

Semi trucks today are built with an incredibly useful tool that is not available on cars.  The Jake Brake, also known as the engine brake, can help drivers slow an engine on a decline and even moderate slowing down to ensure the semi does not go into a skid.

Knowing Your Route

Making sure one is familiar with a route before starting the trip is another way to avoid a skid in a big rig. By taking time to review the types of roads along the route, the elevations of these roads and the times of day when traffic might be the heaviest, drivers can prepare in advance.

One recent news story told of a semi driver who was unfamiliar with a route and followed his GPS blindly up a remote mountain location. When the driver tried to turn around and descend the mountain, the truck began skidding toward a steep bank and got stuck in mud and snow.  Because the driver had no cell phone service, he left the truck and attempted to walk through the forest to find help. In the end, he ended up walking for three days before finding an interstate and flagging down help. Perhaps this situation could have been avoided had the driver taken time to familiarize himself with the route prior to starting his trip.

Prevention is Key

Keeping prevention at the forefront is key to overall trucker safety which then enhances the safety of all on the road. Unfortunately, part of prevention is that commercial drivers must always be vigilant and aware that other drivers on the road simply may not understand the perils that accompany big rig accidents. Many drivers today say their top complaint is that leaving a safe following distance in a semi is next to impossible.

Truckers also state that many drivers simply do not realize that they have a rather large blind spot behind the trailer and next to the driver’s door. Though a truck driver can use mirrors more effectively than most drivers on the road, they are not magic. If a car cannot see a trucker’s mirrors, then they should assume that a driver cannot see their car.

Have a Plan B

As with every well-laid plan, a commitment to avoid skidding does not always come to fruition. In the case drivers encounter a skidding semi-truck they should be prepared to take action quickly. Should the back wheel skid, drivers should be prepared to take their foot off the gas pedal and avoid breaking until the skidding has ceased. Should the front wheels skid, it is best to use the brake only lightly as drivers bring a truck to a full stop as soon as possible.  Finally, in the instance that a drive wheel skids due to slippery conditions a driver should engage the clutch and turn the steering wheel gently in the desired direction.

Though it is not possible to avoid all dangerous situations, semi drivers who are prepared and understand what might cause skidding can go a long way to avoid these situations.

Understanding Motor Truck Cargo Insurance

Motor Truck Cargo Insurance is an important, expensive and often times misunderstood coverage.

Most carriers require the owner operator or company transporting their goods to have cargo insurance. This coverage protects the owner of the goods as well as the insured while the cargo is under the care, custody and control of the transporter.

Cargo Limits and Premiums

Cargo limits and premium cost will vary depending on the average load, type of commodities hauled and where the goods are being transported to and from. Average cargo limits range from $20,0000 to $100,000. For example, a household goods mover in California is required by the state to carry a minimum of $20,000 to obtain his PUC authority. Another example might be a trucker hauling electronics and garments. This cargo limit may need to be $250,000. Limits are usually determined by the owner of the goods and this evidence is provided to them by a Certificate of Insurance from the insurance broker.

Cargo Policies

Cargo policies are often misunderstood because of various exclusions and limitations that may not have been discussed during the quoting process. Often times this is due to the fact that the insurance broker may not specialize in trucking and not understand the impact of various exclusions or limitations. This is why it is imperative to deal with a truck broker who knows the transportation business and understands your individual business as well. If a claim occurs there may not be coverage.

Exclusions and Limitations

Exclusions and Limitations may revolve around target commodities such as garments, electronics, and liquor. There may be a sub limit for these categories and higher deductibles. For example, your cargo limit is $50,000 while you haul cracker jacks but one day you took a load of computers and Guess jeans valued at $200,000. Your policy only covers target goods for a maximum loss of $25,000. Therefore, the claim would only pay $25,000 less your deductible of $1,000.

Theft Coverage

Theft coverage is often capped at lower amount than the cargo limit with a higher deductible. For example, your cargo limit is $100,000 but loss due to theft is limited to $25,000 with a $5,000 deductible not $1,000.

Unattended Vehicle Exclusion

Unattended vehicle exclusion is usually found in cargo policies and simply says that if you leave your loaded vehicle unattended and there is a loss there is no coverage. For example, a driver who left his truck loaded at his home or truck stop and a loss occurred would have no coverage.

Check out the Motor Truck Cargo Insurance page for additional information.

Those are just a handful of things to talk about when procuring cargo coverage. Know your insurance broker and let them know what you do. Don’t hide the facts so that down the road you will always know you are insured properly.

How to Find High Paying Truck Loads

There is more to running a trucking company than simply owning some big rigs and scheduling loads. In truth, the trucking industry is incredibly competitive today. In order to survive in this industry, owners must be capable of performing an ongoing juggling act that involves maintenance and upkeep of vehicles, driver training, satisfaction and review, changing government regulations and ever-changing client needs. Each of these facets must be run well or the entire company might suffer. One way that companies can ease some of the burden is to carefully consider the type of freight they haul, as higher-paying loads and a healthy bottom line can lead to less stress overall.

What is a Basic Rate for Freight?

There is no such thing as a basic rate for the freight that trucking companies haul. This is because the nation’s economy is ever-changing. With each rise of fuel prices, prediction of driver shortage or new government regulation which must be followed, freight rates change. For instance, many companies incurred a new cost recently as they were required to forego paper logbooks for drivers, which have been standard in the industry for man years, and instead put computerized log systems, also known as ELDs, into each truck they own.

According to the FMCSA, the average cost per year for these systems will hover near $495 for each truck they are installed in. In January of 2018, the average rate for a refrigerated load had climbed by 18 cents making it to $2.66 per mile. Flatbed rate was a little lower at $2.39 per mile while spot vans were averaging only $2.26 per load. These rates alone mean little until they are compared to the average cost of running a truck or a trucking company.

Costs to Owners

Once again, the cost of owning and running a trucking company is not a simple thing. Fixed costs include things such as truck payments and insurance, office space, health insurance, and permits. Variable costs include items such as fuel, repairs, tires, taxes and lodging for drivers.

In 2018, the overall cost of owning a semi is said to be about $1.38 per mile. In short, it costs around $180,000 to own and operate a commercial truck each year. And when you really look at all these numbers, it is easy to see that getting top-dollar loads is important in order to stay in the industry.

Different Rates for Different Freights

So, is there a trick to finding the highest paying truck loads? The answer seems to be in qualifications and training. Those types of loads that are more difficult, hazardous or require special upgrades to the driver license frequently tend to pay more.

For instance, hauling materials that are considered hazardous, carrying livestock or even pulling a multi-level trailer full of new vehicles may pay more than a normal, everyday reefer load. Drivers who are qualified to pull flatbed trailers also tend to earn more, as the drivers must often help to tarp, chain or strap these large loads so that the items do not shift in traffic. Oversize flatbed loads requiring pilot cars to help move large items from place to place increase in difficulty, necessary skill level and also in rate of pay.

The location of a trucking company and where it is willing to deliver to may also have some impact on how much a load pays. For instance, most companies know that heading into a congested downtown city for pickup or delivery takes considerably more time and effort than delivery in a city that is less congested. Businesses in difficult or congested areas typically pay more per mile so that truck companies will be willing to deal with the hassle.

Find a System that Works

There are many kinds of load boards that help trucking companies match their drivers and equipment to appropriate loads.  Some of these are paid boards while others are free. In most of these systems, a trucking company can search for loads based on trailer type, load destination, pay per mile rate or even by specialty qualifications such as hazmat endorsement.

Some of these boards are set up to draw large trucking companies, while others are built to help find truck loads for owner-operators.  Finding a system that works best for your company, whether it is large or small, is imperative to your business’s success.

With so many of these load boards available, there is simply no reason to settle for the lowest pay on loads. Instead, figure out how you can set your company apart from others on the road. Offer incentives to drivers who are willing to get extra license endorsements, drivers who don’t mind climbing atop a load to properly secure and tarp it, drivers who have the patience to deal with inner-city traffic. Because once the word gets out that a trucking company is willing to go the extra mile for their clients – those higher paying loads tend to become more frequent and may even lead to long-term contracts in the future.