What Owner-Operators Need to Know About Truck Insurance

The road to becoming an owner-operator of your own semi-truck, heading up your own fleet operations, can be long and arduous. Years of driving for someone else’s fleet and dealing with long hauls and unfavorable scheduling have finally paid off and it’s time to be your own boss. But while you may be excited to choose your own routes and raise your asking price for jobs, there’s still the matter of commercial truck insurance to handle.

It is a sure thing that all drivers have had their own association with commercial truck insuranceto some capacity in their careers. But when it comes time to manage your own operations, commercial truck insurance becomes even more imperative. What you have to keep in mind are variables like your role and responsibility towards freight brokers, motor carriers, shippers and clients. From choosing to lease with a larger company to dealing with safety concerns on the road, choosing the right program is needed when you step into the shoes of an owner-operator.

Liability Insurance

It’s good start with liability insurance coverage that protects you in the event of an accident. Even if your record behind the wheel is clean, it’s always important to have the right insurance coverage to provide the right financial support.  This is usually the most costly part of the owner operator insurance program.

About 4,000 people die in large truck/semi-truck crashes per year, not to mention many more who are injured due to other incidents involving fleet vehicles. When something like this occurs, it pays to have the right commercial truck insurance in your corner.

Physical Damage Insurance

Owner-operators should also look into physical damage insurance, which covers the current  value of your truck.. Gap insurance can also be purchased, much like automobile insurance, to help cover for the different between the value of a truck and any loan balance in the event the vehicle is totaled.

Cargo Insurance

Cargo insurance is also noted as a must insurance coverage. .  Truckers generally need to carry 100,000 in coverage, but current trends have this limit increasing especially considering  the type and value of the freight being hauled. Trucking professionals can also inquire about adding on load-specific motor truck cargo  insurance if they contract for a certain type of cargo.

Other Types of Commercial Truck Insurance

Owner-operators often haul someone else’s trailer. This can be covered by something called non-owned  trailer insurance. This kind of coverage protects the driver for damage to a trailer not owned. Owner-operators can also look at other coverages available meant to provide a full spectrum of support. From non-trucking liability, to General Liability,  Umbrella, and workers’ compensation, owner-operators have a full list of insurance options to stay protected.

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.

Workers’ Compensation in the Trucking Industry

For trucking professionals, taking care of yourself behind the wheel can already be more complicated given the payload you’re hauling. But when you throw other moving vehicles, winding roads, various weather conditions, and government regulations into the mix it makes the job even more of a liability. This is why workers’ compensation packages are so important in the trucking industry, and so often used compared to other industries.

For instance, in Washington, one in every 13 truck drivers suffered some sort of injury annually. With this in mind, it’s important for trucking professionals to understand the need for an effective workers’ compensation program.

How Workers’ Comp Works

Most people know the basics of workers’ compensation, in so much as it’s a government-required way to protect employees of all industries who may become injured on the job. Given the element of danger that comes with trucking, having protection in place to cover things like illness, disability or disfigurement that occur because of the job itself is a necessity.

Another piece of protection that is just as valuable is having commercial truck insurance for the companies trucking individuals work for. Commercial truck insurance is an effective piece of coverage that provides protection for trucking companies in the event a claim is made, saving a company financially during litigation.

When it comes to financial support for employees, workers’ compensation provides this kind of help to cover medical costs, lost wages, or disability payments. Employees need to report any injury or illness as a result of their job to their employer and file a claim immediately.

Workers’ Comp in Trucking

On the level, workers’ compensation works no differently in trucking as compared to other industries. The basics are the same to a certain degree: an employee is injured, they make a claim, and they are provided for financially and legally. But one thing to note, however, is that many truck drivers are not necessarily employees of a commercial trucking company. Many truck drivers are owner-operators who are not considered an employee for the trucking company; meaning the company is not required to make a workers’ comp payout if a driver is injured.

For those owner/operators, the trucking company CAN elect to include them in their workers’ compensation program if they choose to.  Or, they may select another alternative, called Occupational Accident Injury Coverage, where the owner operator purchases his own coverage for medical benefits and some disability coverage in the event of an injury while on the job.

The entire configuration of workers’ comp for employees and  Occ/Acc coverage for independent contractors can be very confusing and the many variables that need to be considered play a role in determining the best solution. This is where a trained insurance broker will assist in the process.

Regardless of the situation, understanding workers’ compensation limits and the importance of commercial truck insurance can make a huge difference in financial and legal issues down the road.

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.

Winter is Coming: A Guide to Safe Trucking in the Snow

About 70 percent of the roads in the United States are in snowy areas during winter months. This presents a great opportunity for accidents to occur due to icy roads and wintry conditions. In fact, more than 116,000 people are injured every year due to a wreck caused by winter driving conditions like snow and sleet on the roadways. While this is a danger to every day drivers going about their regular commute, it’s even more of a serious problem for commercial drivers who see more time on the road during winter months.

From poor visibility to icy roads to less-than-adequate tires, there are a number of things to look out for if you’re a trucking operation preparing its drivers for dangerous hauls over the next few cold months. Here are some winter driving tips commercial driving truckers can heed to stay safe on the highways and byways this winter.

Inspect Vehicles Thoroughly

It’s in a driver’s DNA to give his or her truck a solid inspection before any trip is underway. From checking lights to kicking tires, it’s always a rule of the road to look over every inch of a truck. But during the winter it’s even more important to keep things safe. First, this can be accomplished by investing in commercial truck insurance to protect against major financial setbacks that come with traffic incidents. And beyond commercial truck insurance, proactively inspecting your trucks more delicately can prevent accidents from occurring in the first place.

Check the pressure, engine oil and liquid levels, like antifreeze, with the utmost care before the truck gets on the road. Mechanics can also step in to provide backup when making sure commercial vehicles are ready to hit the road with the best quality.

Tire Spray

Once you’re on the road it’s important to keep an eye out for possible issues that can turn into culprits of large-scale wrecks. One way to stay alert is to monitor the way water is coming off the tires of vehicles around you, especially in front of you. If a lot of water is being kicked up, the road is very wet, but if the water spray is relatively less, this may mean that the roadway is freezing, which means more caution is called for.

Slow Your Roll

No matter the conditions, it’s always a good rule of thumb to slow things down when you’re unsure of the roadway and traffic status. Most accidents occur because drivers don’t alter their speed. Drivers may need to compensate for bad roads and adjust their speed to keep things safe for themselves and those around them.

Give More Space

The stopping distance on wet roads is twice that of dry roads, and more than 10-times longer on icy roads. With this in mind, it helps to add more distance between your truck and others cars on the roads in winter. Overcompensating in this case is a good thing, helping to keep a safe distance to protect those around you. Leave plenty of room so you can move out of harm’s way or just stop with plenty of room to spare.

Check Tail Lights

It’s important to help out fellow drivers around you by keeping your taillights and license plate clean. If they’re covered in snow it will only create issues for drivers on the road who need to be able to see you. Even in a tailwind these can become covered by snow.

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.

The Difference Between Workers’ Compensation and Occupational Accident Injury Insurance for Trucking Operations

Trucking companies across the country make it their mission to create safe and productive work environments for their employees on the road and in their warehouses. Even though trucking operations put their best foot forward to instill safety and accountability, there are still workplace injuries that occur, resulting in high loss of wages and reduced productivity each year.

To protect against liabilities, there are multiple insurance options that can help safeguard a company from more risk and more legal battles. Among these are two main types of commercial truck insurance: workers’ compensation insurance and occupational accident insurance. While they seem similar initially, they do have glaring differences. Let’s take a look at some now.

Occupational Accident vs. Workers’ Comp

Workers’ comp provides wage replacement and medical benefits to hired employees and occupational accident insurance offers similar pluses, but focus on independent contractors. Finding the right coverage depends on the workforce.

Occupational Accident

Companies in essence aren’t legally bound to pay for the medical, disability, death or dismemberment benefits of independent contractors. This is because contractors aren’t technically employees. However, when a contract worker is injured somehow help still needs to be provided.

Independent contractors who get hurt on the job sometimes sue the trucking company they have been hired by. They sometimes claim to be full-time employees to try to get legal compensation. This is where occupational accident coverage steps in.

This kind of coverage doesn’t automatically cover the same statutory limits that workers’ comp does, but it is an alternative for the independent contractor to protect himself and at much more reasonable cost than traditional workers compensation. Motor carriers usually purchase a small workers’ compensation policy to cover hired employees and add occupational accident policies to cover their contract drivers.

Workers’ Compensation

By law all businesses are required to pay lost wages and medical bills for their hired employees if they are hurt on the job. Most business owners choose to purchase this insurance to protect themselves and cover the employee if one gets hurt on the job.

It’s important to not only invest in coverage, but pick the best commercial truck insurance option that’s right for your employees and/or independent contractors. Depending on the state you’re located, there may be options to cover your workers’ comp through an occupational accident program. Work with your insurance provider to find out which is best for you.

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.

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.