In the Trucking Insurance Market, High Liability Rates Are Increasingly Common

Liability coverage makes up a big part of an independent insurance cost. This pays out injuries and property damage after a wreck. When it comes to over-the-road drivers or long-haul truck drivers, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) requires that a $750,000 minimum limit be met for the primary auto liability coverage. However, most shippers and brokers in the industry won’t set up a business relationship with trucking companies that carry anything less than $1 in truck insurance liability.

Rising Costs

Liability coverage costs have gone up year over year and don’t seem to be slowing down. Premiums for a $1 million liability policy can now range between $6,000 and $16,000 depending on the carrier and influencing factors. These high liability rates are becoming more and more common in the trucking industry, making it hard for trucking companies to factor in their budget.

So, what caused this boost in pricing?

According to our President, Bob Holtzman, it can be taken back to the 2008 recession.

Holtzman recently told that the “marketplace was competing for what business was still there, and rates got really low.”

As the economy made a rebound, insurers were slow to react and started seeing losses take their hold well in excess of premiums. In the last few years, truck insurers increased their rates and today’s rates are much higher than the low rates seen around 2011. These rates are expected to hover around those numbers mentioned above for the next few years.

The economy has picked up in recent years, during the end of the Obama administration and into the Trump years, resulting in plenty of jobs and higher wages becoming the norm. Also, there have been more motorists on the road, as well as, more freight, especially with the influence of e-commerce freight.

These factors and others, such as the type of freight, age of equipment, typical length of haul, and states that see freight driving through, all play a role in greater claims frequency which corresponds to increasing liability rates.

In the past few years, as independent contractors have seen an increase in contracts, applications for new operating authority has increased as well. With this in mind, obtaining liability coverage has become a major challenge for those new ventures looking to make a step forward. But since the market has tightened, many truck insurance companies have instituted stricter requirements when it comes to operating experience.

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.

Questions to Ask Your Truck Insurance Agent

For commercial truck operators, when it comes to insurance, a little bit of research can go a long way. From shopping around and getting quotes to going over exactly what is needed to be better protected behind the wheel, there are preliminary measures to account for.

Truck insurance options aren’t all made equally, and that’s why it’s important for those needing coverage to take a proactive approach to finding the best fit. Chances are that multiple insurance carriers will want your business after you first approach them, so be prepared to ask hardline questions to make sure you’re getting everything covered.  Here are five questions to ask agents.

1. How Much Coverage Do I Need?

Truck liability insurance for heavy trucks typically requires the minimum amount of $750,000 as set forth by the USDOT or by the State; but most truck operators select $1mm limits.  Most shippers and brokers require the $1mm limits. While these limit may seem a bit high, big rigs can cause a lot of damage to whatever they hit, even if an incident isn’t the driver’s fault.

Commercial drivers should ask their potential insurance agent to guide them through options related to limits. Also, touch on things like umbrella, or excess, policies that can protect you when it comes to drastic losses.

2. Do You Offer Cargo Coverage?

With different types of cargo comes different types of risks. From grain to livestock, oil to cars to hazmat, truckers should understand the potential risks these individual factors pose. While most truck drivers elect cargo insurance at $100,000 care should be taken to make sure the cargo insurance meets the maximum cargo value being transported.

A trucking insurance agent should know what you’re shipping around and be able to offer the right coverage options based on that.  In addition, cargo insurance policies can differ greatly in their coverage conditions and exclusions and a good agent will help you navigate these complex issues.

3. Can I Get a Combined Deductible?

There are times when an accident causes damage to everything from your truck to your cargo to other vehicles on the road. Each of these types of damage brings their own liabilities. Your insurance package should cover all this, but separate deductibles will apply to the individual factors.

When you get a combined deductible, you’re only responsible for paying a single deductible no matter the coverages used. It makes this process simple and more easily structured.

4. Can You Change My Policy Quickly?

Truckers who find themselves changing out what they haul on a regular basis, or even day-to-day basis, should be able to reach out to their agent at a moment’s notice. Being able to change your policy quickly can provide protection when you are in a situation where a specific coverage is needed.   Your insurance agent, or the office, should be available to you for these changes.

5. What Factors Are Affecting My Premium?

Typically, insurance companies base risk on a number of factors, Age, driving record, credit score, years of experience, distance traveled,  freight carried, and others all play a role in just what affects your overall coverage. If your quote seems high, bring it to your agents attention and ask just what is causing this. There are steps you can take to fixing it when renewal is coming up.

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.



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.



Beyond Truck Insurance – Great Benefits that Matter Most.

Most Important Benefits to Get With Truck Insurance

Truckers need to insure their vehicles, and for most, they simply look for the most cost-effective policy at the most reasonable price. It is vital to get good coverage, but as you are speaking with various truck insurance brokers, there are other qualities to look out for. There are numerous benefits to be gained, but you need to seek them out.

Assistance with Resolving Inaccuracies

A big component of the cost of someone’s insurance policy are prior claims and driver motor vehicle reports.  Therefore, a trucking company that has had some accidents in the past will have to pay more for the same policy as a company with a clean history. However, various government agencies make clerical errors all the time, and it is entirely possible a company that has never had a problem will have a mark on its record. When searching for a new insurance provider, it is helpful to try to find an agent who will lend a helping hand in these instances. An insurance agent will most likely have greater success convincing an outside agency to change an error.

Availability to Talk

You will find yourself in situations where you need to talk to your insurance agent and the last thing you want is to deal with someone who is hard to get a hold of. As you are reviewing different policies, pay attention to how easy it is to get in touch with someone. You may contact an agency and get put on hold for a while only to be told the agent is currently out of the office. You want an agent and agency who makes an effort to always be accessible and a live body answering the phone.

Willingness to Give Options

An insurance agent should be there to give you exactly what you need and ask for. An agent will most likely inform you of different services you could potentially benefit from, but ultimately, it comes down to what you and your company need. Always look through a proposal  yourself before making a purchase. An honest, upfront agent will tell you everything and not leave out any important details. That kind of transparency  should be a priority for you  in selecting  an agent.

Buying insurance means you are entering into a partnership, and you want to make this union as viable as possible for years to come. Pay attention to what you are truly receiving  to get the most out of it.

Truck Insurance Rates Fall

Truck insurance rates continue to spiral downward as the long term Truck Insurance providers compete with new Insurance Company entrants into this industry.  Rates are down, on average, about 15% last year from 2006 and it is expected to fall another 5-15% again this year. Great news for owner operators and trucking companies. Let’s hope the trend continues.