How DOT Inspections Are Used for Insurance Underwriting


Information collected about a transportation carrier during a routine inspection at weigh stations is posted and kept on the Department of Transportation (DOT) website and available to the public. Insurance company underwriters utilize this data when evaluating a risk and determining account acceptability and pricing.

Why Are DOT Inspections and Compliance So Crucial for Insurance Underwriting?

There is a great deal of industry and insurance data available to support a strong correlation between safety scores and crash events. In fact, underwriters put as much evaluation weight on safety scores as they do on drivers and loss histories.

Underwriters will look at out-of-service rates (driver, vehicle, hazmat) and compare them with the national average, safety ratings, and the seven basic alerts from FMCSA (unsafe driving, crash indicator, hours-of-service compliance, vehicle maintenance, controlled substances and alcohol, hazardous materials compliance, and driver fitness). If, for example, a trucking company has as few as two out-of-service alerts on its record for the last two years, many insurance companies will decline to quote the account. Others may offer a higher-priced quote that is too expensive for the carrier to pay.

The poorer the roadside DOT inspections, the more likelihood there is for onsite intervention. Not only do poor DOT scores impact insurance, but your trucks will also be stopped more, causing delivery delays.

It’s also important to note that safety scores are admissible in court when there is an accident and subsequent litigation. In addition, settlements and jury awards tend to be higher when safety scores are substandard.

Strategies for DOT Compliance

Following are several strategies to implement to help with DOT inspections and safety scores:

  • Communicate with drivers about the impact of safety scores on your operation
  • Reward drivers for passed inspections (an annual safety bonus, a gift card, and recognition)
  • Discipline drivers for failed inspections
  • Check the Safety Measurement System (SMS) website periodically to review your score
  • Analyze inspections to determine where the majority of issues arise and address them
  • Ensure MCS-150 is filed as required and accurately reflects your account
  • Hire right – view your drivers’ prior inspection history
  • Challenge incorrect inspection results – DATAQ

About Western Truck Insurance Services

Western Truck Insurance Services is an insurance brokerage specializing in commercial truck insurance. We know this stuff and want to make sure you do too. Our clients appreciate our dedication to finding competitive rates and offering unparalleled service beyond excellent insurance options. They also value how our state-of-the-art automation provides lightning-fast truck insurance quotes, customer service, insurance certificates, and coverage changes. Contact us today at (800) 937-8785 to learn more.