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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.

Why Commercial Truck Insurance is Essential

There are many reasons that finding the right commercial truck insurance is vital to the success of your business. Transportation insurance is multifaceted, so one of the most important parts of finding coverage is choosing the right insurance provider. You want to choose a company that offers the protection you need for an affordable cost. It’s also important to work with professionals who understand the industry, so you can rely on them for accurate advice, helpful tips, and support for your company. Here at Western Truck Insurance Services, we want to help you navigate the complex workings of truck insurance. Here are some important reasons to make sure you have the right coverage.

1. Insurance Is Required by Law

Perhaps the most important reason commercial vehicle insurance is essential is that it is legally required. If you are found to be without the right type of insurance coverage, you can face significant fines and legal actions. You may even be penalized in a way that threatens your ability to continue operating your transportation business.

2. Insurance Is a Large Business Expense

Aside from the actual cost of your vehicles and fuel  your commercial insurance policy is likely going to be one of the largest expenses of your business every year. You may think that choosing the least expensive policy is a smart business move, but having the wrong type of insurance can end up costing you significantly more, as  in the case of an accident or theft. You want your policy to have enough coverage that you can quickly and easily recover financially from an accident. However, you don’t want to be paying for coverage you don’t need. The right policy will balance coverage with cost in a way that’s customized for your company.

3. Insurance Covers More Than Accidents

While it is vital to have insurance to cover the expenses involved in a motor vehicle accident, there are many other aspects to commercial truck coverage. Most policies are designed to provide protection in the event of damage or loss to your   truck, trailer, and/or cargo. Insurance  also covers damage to others parties vehicles, and property affected by the accident. Here is a basic breakdown of the different types of commercial vehicle insurance:

  • Liability: Coverage for damage to other parties involved in an incident. If your truck causes bodily injury or damages to other vehicles, buildings, or other sort of property, the liability policy would provide funds to pay the injured party.
  • Physical Damage: Protection for your equipment damage due to numerous causes, such as severe weather, theft, or damage inflicted by another vehicle or person.
  • Cargo Insurance: Coverage for the items being transported.. This type of policy can provide coverage in the event cargo is damaged during an accident or stolen during transport.
  • Reefer Insurance: Additional coverage related to the refrigeration system.. This doesn’t cover repairs to the motor, but does provide coverage for damage done by failure of the reefer unit to maintain the temperature.
  • Bobtail Insurance: Liability Protection, called non-trucking liability, for times when the tractor is in operation without a trailer. This is usually recommended for owner/operators who take their rigs home during off hours and vacations.

4. Additional Services Can Make Your Life Easier

Some insurance providers offer roadside assistance coverage for commercial truckers. These policies are generally inexpensive but can save time, money, and frustration for trucking professionals. The exact coverage details will vary depending on the provider and the policy, but most programs include numerous benefits, such as:

  • Concierge service to find truck stops, lodging, restaurants, and more
  • Tire replacement assistance
  • Roadside assistance for multiple situations
  • Towing
  • Mobile mechanic services
  • Jump starts
  • Fuel delivery
  • Locksmith services
  • Navigation assistance
  • Truck rental help

In most cases, adding a roadside assistance package provides numerous advantages with a huge savings over a regular tow bill. significantly.

5. Insurance Protects Your Livelihood

The right commercial truck insurance policy helps protect your business from financial difficulties due to accidents, theft, or other disasters. Additionally, a good insurance policy can help you maintain the excellent reputation you’ve worked hard to build. Savvy clients will be sure to ask about the details of your insurance policy, and you want to be able to tell them about your trustworthy coverage. You can also count on an experienced insurance professional to help you return to normal operations as soon as possible after an incident, further cementing your company’s reputation for reliable service.

Find the Right Transport Insurance Company

To find the right transport insurance company is about more than just checking to make sure your type of vehicle or cargo is covered. You want to find a provider that will partner with you to design customized policies that will give you the protection you need without stretching your budget. Whether you transport cargo and/or manage a fleet of trucks, having the right insurance is crucial to protect yourself, your company, and your profits. Here at Western Truck Insurance Services, we are here to provide the support you need to keep your business moving.

Who Needs Transport Insurance?

A trucking company transporting goods requires transport insurance to protect both the vehicle and the cargo. What about Companies who transport their own goods?  The details will vary slightly in each individual case, but generally, there are policies designed for cargo owners and those designed for transportation providers.

Property insurance policies for manufacturers, distributors, wholesale companies, and retailers generally cover the property during transportation. These policies are designed to protect the businesses in the event of an accident or theft or other loss.

There are also cargo and logistics insurance policies designed to protect transport providers and carriers. These policies are typically recommended for motor carriers, freight forwarders, and logistics service providers. Certain types of insurance coverage are usually required by state laws, and there may be additional liability issues to consider. There are many options and requirements for this type of insurance, which is why working with an experienced transport insurance provider can be so helpful for your business.

What Type of Transport Insurance Do You Need?

While it may seem that the term “transport insurance” covers just about any sort of trucking operation, there are many different types of coverage available. It’s essential to make sure you have coverage for your unique transportation business. There are numerous factors that affect the type of coverage and policy you need. For example, several important aspects of your business include:

  • Whether you operate in a single state or many
  • Whether you transport owned goods, non-owned goods, or a combination of both
  • Whether you haul hazardous materials
  • What type and capacity of truck is being operated.
  • Whether you have to comply with certain state licensing and financial responsibility requirements

These are just a few of the things that can affect the type and kind of policy and level of coverage you need from your transport insurance company. It’s essential to work with a knowledgeable insurance professional who can help you determine the right products for your company.

What Does Transport Insurance Cover?

When you work with Western Truck Insurance Services, we customize a policy to meet your unique business needs. The exact coverage will depend on the details of your business, but most insurance policies relate to the following coverage:

  • Auto and General Liability: Protect motor carriers or for-hire truckers by providing  coverage for injuries, property damage, medical payments, and advertising liability.
  • Motor Carrier Insurance: This type of liability coverage is important if you use permanently leased independent contractors for your company.
  • Motor Truck Cargo Insurance: This covers freight liability for cargo and is generally required for for-hire truckers. Policies can cover loss due to fire, theft, and collision, and may also cover debris removal and legal defense.

There are several additional types of transport coverage you may need to include in your policy:

  • Garage Liability Coverage
  • Real Property and Business Personal Property Insurance
  • Workers Compensation Coverage
  • Occupational Accident Insurance
  • Non-Trucking Liability Insurance
  • Warehouse Legal Liability
  • Physical Damage Insurance
  • Crime Coverage
  • Passenger Accident Insurance
  • Trailer Interchange Insurance

Is There Insurance to Cover Theft During Transportation?

Transport insurance for cargo may be categorized into two types: accident and theft. When you are choosing an insurance company, it’s a good idea to make sure your provider offers both types of insurance to protect your goods. Transportation of goods and passengers carries risks in every part of the world, and it’s essential to make sure your assets are covered in the event of an accident or loss due to criminal activity.

Additional Considerations When Choosing a Transport Insurance Company

Whether you are looking for insurance to cover your cargo during transportation or need insurance for your own fleet of trucks, the right policy can keep your company afloat during difficult circumstances. The legal requirements for transport insurance can be complicated, and there are numerous types of coverage to consider, so one of the most important aspects of choosing a provider is industry knowledge. Choose a provider with years of experience in transport insurance, with professionals who keep up with current trends and issues affecting the industry. When it comes time to choose or update your policy, you can rely on this expertise to make sure you have the right coverage.

Auto-Issued DOT Numbers- What We’ve Seen and What You Can Do

We’ve been seeing something a little strange lately here at Western Truck Insurance Services and we wanted to keep all of our loyal clients informed. We haven’t seen much information about this online, but it is something that several clients have experienced. If you’re having problems with this, or with anything else relating to your insurance, give us a call and we’ll happily help you sort things out.

Last year all clients with a California MCP # only were automatically issued a DOT #. We believe that the California DMV forwarded the information to the FMCSA for the applications. The problem is, much of this information was outdated. We had clients receiving their DOT # with an incorrect address, old registration information, etc. These clients never asked for or applied for this number. It was automatically issued to them. The California DMV is trying to transition to using DOT #s and provided this information to the FMCSA from their last update, but if things changed during the year, the information was outdated.

What Can Be Done?

If this happened to you, or happens to you in the future, what can you do? If you have insurance through Western Truck Insurance Services, get in touch with us and we’ll help you sort things out. This is what we’re suggesting:

  • Go online and check your information. This would typically be at the FMCSA website (https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/registration). You can also call them at 800-832-5660.
  • Order your PIN for future updates. This allows you to update online in the future.
  • Print the MCS 150 page.
  • Call your insurance agent and discuss how to fill everything out properly. This is very important. Make sure things are filled out correctly to avoid future problems down the road. Please call us first!
  • Fax/mail in the documentation and keep a copy for yourself.
  • This is the first time we’ve seen something like this happen, but as the transition goes through, we’ll be here to help you with this and all of your other insurance needs. Get in touch anytime you have a question. We’re here to help you ‘Travel with Care’.

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.

 

 

Is Your Rig Ready for Winter? 7 Ways to Prepare for Plummeting Temperatures

It’s getting chilly out there. Is your truck ready? Take some time today to prep your truck for the cooler, potentially freezing, temperatures that are surely ahead. A little preparation today can save you from a whole lot of trouble later.

When Temperatures Drop, Coolant’s a Must

Anti-freeze, or coolant, provides vital protection to your truck during freezing weather. Getting your coolant system in order is one of the most important winter maintenance preps you’ll do all year. Check for leaks and low coolant levels at every PM. Use high quality coolant, obtained from a reputable source. This is one area where you don’t want to compromise on quality.

Don’t Get Stuck in the Snow- Check Your Chains

Are your chains ready to go should you need them? Many drivers take their chains off the truck and put them into storage during warm summer months, but now that the temperatures are dropping, it’s time to bring them back. Before loading them up, give them a quick check to make sure you have everything you need and that all parts are in good repair.

It’s also prime time to brush up on chain laws. Many drivers prefer to sit and wait when chain whether hits, but some states require that you carry them, needed or not. Knowing the laws in the states where you travel most can save you from expensive tickets and violations.

If you do use chains, remove them as soon as they aren’t needed. Chains that are left on too long can rip up your tires and cause road damage. Remember, chains are intended to get you out of trouble, not into it. If it is too snowy to continue, stop and wait for the weather to clear.

Are Your Tires Ready for Winter?

Tire pressure drops in cold weather. It’s time to check pressure on all your tires again. It is often most effective to check your tire pressure during your pre-trip inspection, before you do any driving. Valve caps help to ensure that ice doesn’t form in the valve core, leading to a slow pressure leak. If you’re missing any caps, replace them.

Tire pressure isn’t the only tire check you should do this winter. If you regularly drive in icy, snowy areas, consider special tires with tread designed for winter driving.

Scrape Less- Add Some De-Icer to Windshield Fluid

Check your washer fluid levels and add de-icer if needed. This will help to defrost your windshield and will keep your fluid jug from freezing solid and bursting. While you’re at it, check your windshield wipers too.

It’s Hard Being a Battery in the Winter

Cold temperatures make it more difficult for your battery to charge, often resulting in lower battery levels. Cleaning, checking, and testing the battery should be a regular part of your PM (preventative maintenance) program. If your battery is over three years old, you may want to replace it this winter.

If your truck has an APU, you can expect reduced service life from your batteries, especially during cold weather. The APU is constantly pulling power from the battery which can drain battery life.

Stock Your Truck, Just in Case

Do you have cold weather essentials on hand, just in case? You should have a heavy coat, a blanket, and some food on hand in your truck. Although we hope you’re never stranded out in the cold, you’ll be happy to have a few emergency supplies on hand. These supplies could very well save your life some day.

Is your truck ready for winter? What are your favorite ways to prepare for dropping temperatures?

 

A Trucker’s Guide to Holiday Gifting… and Receiving

What’s on the top of your holiday wish list this year? If you’ve been too busy on the road to think about gifts, we’ve got you covered. This holiday gift guide will help you find the perfect gifts for everyone on your list. Here are some of our favorite holiday gifts for truck drivers to give and receive.

To Give- Thoughtful and Easy Gifts for Everyone on Your List

You’re on the road more than you’re home; who has time for holiday shopping? These thoughtful gifts won’t break the bank, but will bring a little cheer to those that support you while you’re far away.

  • Regional Favorites– You travel the country often, giving you a unique opportunity to gather fun, regional treats. If you’re in the South, pick up some boiled peanuts. In Idaho, grab a bag of their famous potatoes, or the slightly sweeter treat the Idaho Spud. If you’re in New Jersey, choose a nice bag of salt water taffy. In New York City, opt for bagels. And don’t forget about Vermont’s famous maple syrup and maple candies. Regional favorites are favorites for a reason. They are a delicious taste of somewhere else.
  • Photos– They say a picture’s worth a thousand words, but they also make for a great holiday gift. Put together a calendar of pictures you’ve nabbed on your travels. Frame a photo of yourself to remind loved ones you miss them while you’re away. Take a photo of street signs, town signs, etc. that remind you of your loved ones.
  • Craft Beverages– For your favorite alcohol enthusiast, consider craft beers, wines, or spirits. Make sure you’re careful getting these treats home. You don’t want to violate any company or state laws by transporting alcohol inappropriately.

 

Truck drivers aren’t home very often and are notoriously difficult to shop for. Here are some ideas to spoil the truckers in your life, on and off the road.

 

To Receive- Perfect Holiday Gifts for Your Favorite Driver

  • Gift Cards– Drive-thrus and truck stop food are common trucker fare, but I’m sure any driver you know would love a hot meal every once in awhile. Gift cards to chain restaurants make an excellent gift. Remember, popular chains vary across the country. Make sure the restaurants you’re considering have locations in areas where your trucker drives.
  • Hotel Nights– Night after night in a sleeper can get kind of old. Gift a night at a hotel. Hotel points, free night certificates, and gift cards to a favorite chain can provide welcome relief on the road.
  • Electric Blanket– Nights on the road are often chilly, especially during the winter. All too often the APU (auxillary power unit) can’t keep up with the dropping temperatures. An electric blanket will keep your driver toasty and warm, even on the coldest winter night.
  • Snacks– Give the gift of healthy, delicious snacks. Dried fruits, bags of popped popcorn, nuts, pretzels, applesauce pouches, and bottled water are some healthy, tasty options. Pack some favorites into a gift basket this year.
  • Work Gloves– A new pair of work gloves is always a treat, especially for those drivers that commonly use them. If your trucker drives a flatbed, step deck, RGN, or other exposed trailer, work gloves will be well used and very appreciated. Opt for warm, winter ones that can be used right away.

Tis the season to give and receive. What items are you giving or hoping to receive this holiday season?

Winter’s Coming- Driving Tips to Help You Travel with Care

If you need a reprieve from hot summer temperatures, relief is on the way. Winter is definitely coming and temperatures are dropping around the country. Plummeting temperatures present some unique challenges in the truck. Here’s our guide for safe winter driving. Do you have any tips to add to the list?

How Does Weather Impact Safety on the Road?

Each year more than 1.2 million crashes are caused by bad weather, approximately 22% of all accidents. Weather related accidents include those that occur in adverse weather (rain, sleet, snow, fog, etc.) or on slick pavement (icy, snowy, wet). On average 6,000 people are killed each year and 445,000 injured by weather related crashes. Yes, bad weather can occur any time of the year, but it is much more likely during the winter.

Watch Out for Water

Rain and wet pavement are some of the biggest dangers for winter driving. Icy pavement and snow certainly cause crashes, but wet pavement is responsible for the majority. The Federal Highway Administration has found that wet pavement plays a role in 73% of weather related crashes, 80% of weather related injuries, and 77% of weather related fatalities. When it is wet, be extra cautious as this is one of the most dangerous times to be on the road.

Give Yourself Extra Time

Winter driving isn’t going to be as productive as summer driving, especially during bad weather. Plan your routes accordingly and give yourself extra time when estimating arrival times for dropping and loading. It is estimated that 23% of non-recurrent delays are due to snow, ice, and fog. Overall, 12% of total truck delay is due to weather and trucking companies lose about 32 billion hours each year due to weather related delays. During peak travel periods in Washington D.C. travel times increase approximately 24% in the presence of precipitation. Plan accordingly when winter weather is expected.

Prepare for Weather

Winter weather can leave you stranded on the side of the highway when roads get shut down or conditions are too dangerous to continue. You can’t always count on making it to the next truck stop. Stock your truck with the supplies you’ll need for a day or two of delay, just in case. Make sure you have appropriate winter clothing, including coats, hats, and gloves, ready. Keep extra food, water, and blankets in your truck. Fill up your fuel more often (try to keep at least half a tank at all times) and keep extra wiper fluid on hand. Tire chains and a windshield scraper are winter must-haves.

Watch for Ice

If you’ve ever experienced black ice, you know how scary it can be. Slick ice that comes out of nowhere, black ice is very difficult to spot. When the temperatures drop near freezing, be aware that black ice is possible and be very cautious if the road looks wet, as it may actually be ice. Bridges are especially prone to black ice. Be careful!

Don’t Be Afraid to Shut Down

We know you have deadlines to make and places to go, but getting to a drop on time isn’t worth sacrificing your safety. If you do run into weather conditions where driving is unsafe, stop and give the storm time to pass. Good communication with all parties involved will help to alleviate problems caused by winter delays. Keep everyone informed about where you are and what’s happening. Your safety this winter is a priority.

A little extra caution in the winter can help you stay safe on the road as temperatures drop. Travel with care this winter and beyond.

Trucking Trends- Where Are We Now?

The American Trucking Association recently released ATA American Trucking Trends 2016, a comprehensive analysis of the state of the trucking industry. Overall, it was a strong year for trucking and we hope it was a great one for you too.

What’s the Current State of Trucking?

Looking at where the industry is now can help you decide the best paths as you guide your business into the future. Here are a few statistics pulled from the report. What did 2015 look like for you? More information is available from the ATA.

  • Trucking Still Dominates Freight– Trucks carried more freight than any other method, approximately 70% of domestic freight tonnage.
  • Trucking Gross Revenues– Trucking collected more than $726 billion in gross freight revenues during 2015. This was a record setting year for freight revenues.
  • More Money Spent on Trucking– In 2015 trucks received 81.5% of the nation’s freight revenues.
  • Number of Trucks in Operation– More than 3.6 million Class 8 trucks were in operation in the U.S. during 2015.

Where Is the Trucking Industry Headed?

There are certainly challenges in the trucking industry, including increased regulation, fluctuating fuel costs, and driver shortages. As a driver it can be hard to know what the future holds. In addition to the annual Trucking Trends report, the ATA recently released an industry forecast, looking at the future of freight. Let’s take a look at a few highlights.

  • Expected Tonnage Growth of 35%– Between 2016 and 2027 overall freight tonnage is expected to grow 35%. The amount of freight moved by trucks will grow about 27%.
  • Pipeline Use Expected to Grow– The use of pipeline to move freight is expected to increase from about 10% to 17%. This will result in loss of market share by other methods of moving freight including trucking, water, and rail.
  • Truckload Volumes to Increase– Truckload volumes are expected to increase about 2% each year until 2022 and 1.6% annually from 2022-2027.

What Do These Numbers Mean for Me?

Only time knows exactly what’s in store for the trucking industry, but these two reports from the American Trucking Association are positive news for the industry. Right now trucking is still the predominant method for moving freight and revenue and truckload volumes are on the rise. Strong growth is expected to continue over the next several years.

As the industry changes, your insurance needs may too. We are here and ready to help you adjust your policies and find the right coverage for your situation. As your needs change, get in touch and we’ll help you keep your policies up to date.

A Successful Trip Starts with a Pre-Trip Inspection

At Western Truck Insurance Services our motto is “Travel with Care”. We want you to get there safely, happily, and carefully every single time. Now, we can’t guarantee your safety each time you get behind the wheel, but we do know a secret to greatly increasing your chances of a successful trip: pre-trip inspections. They are required by law for a good reason, but all too often drivers slack on this important safety check. Have you mastered the pre-trip inspection?

How Long Should My Pre-Trip Inspection Take?

Are you a whiz at rushing through the pre-trip inspection? With a safety check this important, slow down and take your time. Five minutes isn’t long enough for a good inspection. How long should you spend? It really depends on your speed and familiarity with the truck. A good inspection might be over in 20 minutes or may take longer, 45 minutes or more. Make sure you check everything from the gladhands to the tires, and don’t forget about checking your tarps and binders too. Quality, not quantity, is what really matters on your pre-trip inspection.

When Do I Need to Perform Pre-Trip Inspections?

The FMCSA rule § 396.13 requires that drivers “be satisfied that the motor vehicle is in safe operating condition” before operating a vehicle. If you’re driving a truck you haven’t driven before, this will require a thorough inspection before you set off. If you’re more familiar with the vehicle and been driving it all day, a quick check may be in order. Daily inspections are a must and ideally you’ll be checking in for safety hazards throughout the day as well, just to make sure things are working as expected.

What Do I Need to Inspect?

Inspection requirements can vary from company to company and even from state to state. Know your specific requirements and when in doubt, over-inspection is better than under-inspection. This guide from the state of Oregon could easily fit on a single page (front and back) and serves as a helpful reminder of some components you may be missing. Think about keeping a copy of this, or something similar, in your truck to help jog your memory on those inspections. At a minimum the FMCSA rule § 396.11 requires:

  • Service brakes including trailer brake connections
  • Parking brake
  • Steering mechanism
  • Lighting devices and reflectors
  • Tires
  • Horn
  • Windshield wipers
  • Rear vision mirrors
  • Coupling devices
  • Wheels and rims
  • Emergency equipment

We’ve noticed that tarps and binders are often under-inspected, but can really lead to damage and injury when they aren’t in good repair. Check your tarps and binders too. When they start wearing out, replace them.

Will Anyone Know if I Skimp on Inspections?

It’s a busy day and you’ve got hundreds of miles to go before you run out of hours or maybe you’re fighting the clock with a daylight hours only restriction. You may think that skipping one inspection isn’t going to hurt anyone. Truth be told, it might. Pre-trip inspections are one of the best ways to protect yourself and others from potentially deadly crashes. Shirking those inspection duties can spell bad news if your logs are checked. If you get in an accident, that’s one of the first things they’ll look for. Even if no one else finds out you were lazy when inspecting, you’ll know. Do your inspections and do them right.

We want you to get home safely and know that pre-trip inspections are one of the keys. If you’ve been slacking on your inspections, make a change and do them right. Believe us, the hassle of the inspection is nothing compared with potential repercussions of an accident. And if you do run into trouble, know that we’re here and ready to help you.