Commercial trucking companies serve as a critical link in supply chains across the country. By transporting goods between production and manufacturing facilities and end users, America’s truckers are the lifeblood of commerce. Trucking companies face a wide range of risk exposures in their operations. As a means of reducing risk, adopting best practices serves as a vital management process to help assist in lowering truck insurance premiums. In this guide, we will explore some of the leading industry practices used by successful trucking businesses.
Operational and Liability Risks in Trucking
Trucking companies cover millions of miles and transport millions of tons of cargo each year. As such, they face significant risks both on the road and within the businesses themselves. Common risks include:
- Supply chain breakdowns
- Vehicle collisions
- Driver shortages
- Regulatory considerations
- Vehicle maintenance and replacement issues
- Damage to cargo
- Pollution spills or environmental damage
- Theft and vandalism
Trucking insurance policies provide robust coverage against these risks. Even with this protection, however, trucking businesses can reduce claims and manage overhead expenses by controlling these risk exposures. By doing so, operations can run more efficiently, allowing truckers to do what they do best: transport goods.
Maintenance of Vehicles
Next to the drivers themselves, a trucking company’s greatest asset is the fleet of trucks used to transport goods. These vehicles require regular maintenance, not only to reduce downtimes but to remain in compliance with strict state and federal regulations. Unfortunately, many trucking operations defer maintenance until vehicles break down, costing additional time and money. To improve efficiency across fleets, developing and adhering to regular maintenance schedules is a practice utilized by some of the most successful trucking businesses. Maintenance can be broken into two main areas: preventative maintenance and repair/replacement maintenance. Preventative maintenance evaluates consumables, such as vehicle fluids, tires, and parts prone to service wear, then replaces these items as needed before a breakdown occurs. Repair maintenance focuses on returning out-of-service vehicles back to the roads and evaluates truck lifespans to gauge replacement schedules. Smart fleet owners know that maintenance is critical; implementing fleet management software can take much of the effort out of keeping track of which vehicles need service to maintain roadworthiness.
Regulatory authorities require truckers to conduct daily inspections of vehicles. These inspections are recorded on Daily Vehicle Inspection Reports (DVIRs) as required by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and the U.S. Department of Transportation. Failure to comply with this inspection schedule can result in steep fines as well as the loss of operating licensure. To avoid trucking insurance claims related to non-compliance, fleet managers must ensure that daily inspections and reports are completed. This is a powerful risk management approach that can spot vehicle issues before they cause breakdowns or injury to property and personnel.
Fuel expenditures represent some of the highest overhead costs in fleet operations. Controlling fuel costs can improve efficiency and reduce wasted funds. Fleet managers have access to fuel cost tracking systems, and many of the most successful operations have shifted to fleet fuel cards rather than requiring truckers to keep up with paper receipts.
Controlling fuel expenses also requires careful consideration of route planning and cargo transports. Deadheading wastes fuel; advanced fleet management software can eliminate trips with empty trailers by routing trucks from load to load. With these practices in place, trucking businesses gain valuable cost savings over the entire year.
Route planning and vehicle tracking are important considerations for fleet managers. Knowing where trucks are at any given point and routing them to produce the best efficiencies is critical in reducing costs. Fleet management software can be integrated with vehicle telematics transmitters, which collect vehicle information on the fly. Managers can then use that information to plan routes that reduce wasted time and travel miles.
By adopting the above best industry practices, trucking companies can reduce both costs and risks. Trucking insurance continues to be the foundation of risk management in trucking and offers a blanket of protection for fleet owners. With an eye toward efficiency and by investing in fleet management systems, truckers can continue to provide their essential services to communities throughout the United States.
About Western Truck Insurance Services
Western Truck Insurance Services is a commercial truck insurance agency with roots dating back to 1954. We have evolved into a highly respected, professionally managed, truck and transportation insurance brokerage. The hallmark of our organization is our desire to provide unparalleled service. We go way beyond what you expect to receive from an insurance brokerage. Equipped with state of the art automation, Western Truck Insurance can provide you with lightning fast truck insurance quotes, customer service, Insurance certificates, and coverage changes. Contact us today at (800) 937-8785 to learn more!