Trucking companies need to manage risk very carefully. Comprehensive commercial insurance coverage is an integral way for them to protect themselves against considerable liability and loss. Recently, an increase in the number of claims has made vital insurance protections more costly for companies and carriers alike. Here are some important considerations about the cause for the rising number of claims which are causing immense hardship in the trucking industry while it is grappling with other formidable operational challenges.
More Claims Are Generating Exorbitant Monetary Judgments
Many high-profile lawsuits have resulted in verdicts that vastly exceed previous norms. Of course, an accident involving a big rig could involve multiple vehicles and create actual damages that are commensurate with a jury’s verdict. Nevertheless, numerous multi-million judgments within the past several years have been genuinely astonishing.
Some shockingly high judgment awards stem from claims that involve multiple theories of liability. For example, a trucking company could be liable not only for the direct cause of an accident which gave rise to a claimant’s injuries but also claims for proximate causes of accidents such as negligent hiring. In other words, failing to adequately verify that employees’ qualifications could amount to gross negligence that can subject a company to punitive damages.
Some truck insurance carriers may be more eager to settle claims than they had in years past out of fear that they could face excessively high money judgments if they choose to litigate. To settle a higher percentage of claims, it may be necessary for them to offer higher settlement figures.
There has been a dramatic shortage of new drivers joining the trucking industry. Why is the trucking industry struggling to attract new candidates? Working conditions are extremely tough, and workers need to spend all their time on the road. In an era when so many people are working remotely, a career path which requires people to do physically demanding work away from their loved ones may seem less appealing than other opportunities. Simultaneously, changes in the ways that people are shopping has made handling local delivery routes a more enticing option for industry professionals who would prefer to avoid driving hundreds of miles a day. Resultantly, companies that transport large quantities of supplies and products to distribution centers are hard-pressed to find enough qualified drivers to satisfy their needs. The shortage of truck drivers can result in drivers to take on more demanding routes.
Infrastructure Crises Are Creating More Hazards
there is a greater number of vehicles on the road in the region throughout the country. In some areas, however, transportation infrastructure has been sorely neglected. It has not been adequately maintained let alone updated to meet evolving needs. Dangerous roadways and overpacked tunnels or bridges may give rise to increasingly dangerous conditions for truck drivers.
Semi truck drivers typically need to cover routes that pass through multiple states. Even if the state in which a trucking company is incorporated has fairly acceptable infrastructure conditions, needing its drivers to pass through other states will expose truck insurance carriers to all of the risk involved with driving through those poorly maintained and inadequately updated areas.
Unsafe Weather Conditions Are a Growing Concern
Extreme weather may be playing a role in the sharp increase of serious accidents on the road. As the climate crisis intensifies and driving conditions are more inclement on a consistent bas, there are invariably going to be a greater number of accidents. For example, many drivers in southern regions have had to contend with ice and snow whereas they never had before.
Self-Driving Vehicles Are Becoming More Mainstream
Large trucking companies have not yet embraced technology which enables vehicles to travel autonomously down a busy highway. Problems in the development of this technology have made pursuing this method of operations appear excessively risky to both trucking companies and their insurance carriers. Part of the reason for the concerns about driverless vehicles in trucking is attributable to performance issues with the application of this technology in personal vehicles. Unfortunately, an improperly functioning driver-assist feature or hands-free driving program as well as user errors when operating this type of program can give rise to serious and sometimes fatal accidents.
Although trucking companies are not yet utilizing this technology, commercial vehicles face a significantly greater risk of being involved in this type of accident than they had in years past simply because they are sharing the road with more of these partially autonomous personal vehicles. In the aftermath of an accident, a commercial vehicle is particularly vulnerable to legal claims. Even if a driver whose hands-free driving feature failed or a driver who failed to operate their system responsibly was at fault for an accident involving a commercial truck, the business entity that is responsible for the truck could be an appealing target for legal claims. Carriers for personal auto policies can initiate third-party claims against a trucking company even when fault is primarily attributable to an insured client utilizing self-driving technology. Truck insurance carriers may have to contend with the growing number of trucking industry claims that involve vehicles with self-driving capabilities as well as vehicles that are entirely driverless.
Ultimately, the trucking industry and the insurance carriers that serve it will need to adapt to changing dynamics to limit their respective risk exposure. They must develop policies aimed at keeping their drivers safe that also help to keep everyone on the road safe.
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!