By Heather Garbers
Recruiting and retaining truck drivers has become a huge challenge that’s only going to get worse. It’s impacting every sector that relies on the trucking industry to transport goods across the country. Everyone is now scrambling to find solutions.
The booming economy has boosted consumer demand for just about everything. Trucking is a critical link in the supply chain, but the driver shortage has caused the percentage of on-time shipments to drop to 85 percent, a 7percent dip from previous years. In 2018, the industry will be short some 60,000 drivers, according to the American Trucking Association. That shortage is expected to climb to 106,245 by 2022.
Employers are doing everything they can to address the shortfall, offering sign-on bonuses and increasing wages by at least 10 percent in the last 18 months. Some employers are looking at resources to not just attract but to also retain their drivers in an industry where the 2018 first quarter turnover was 88 percent. Many innovative commercial carrier employers are offering enriched truck driver insurance with competitively priced voluntary benefits that respond to the industry’s – and drivers’ – unique challenges without adding to their costs.
The fact is that many of the industry’s W2 drivers either postpone or forego treatment for routine ailments like colds and conditions, like backaches and muscle strains caused by loading along with prolonged sitting on the job. And contract (1099) drivers, a staple of the industry, face a lack of benefits in general – they’re lucky if they even have medical coverage available to them.
A robust voluntary benefits program of truck driver insurance can serve everyone’s best interests. Some 75 percent of all workers say benefits packages are a top consideration in deciding to take a job or not. W2 drivers in particular find huge appeal in voluntary benefits that make care easier to access and convenient. And, portability and availability of benefits for 1099 drivers can clinch the deal.
For the employer, offering truck driver insurance through voluntary benefits is one way to balance out health premium increases and reduce workers’ compensation claims. Services like online onboarding and offboarding systems and benefit call centers can also help employers simplify communication and administration of all benefits, including voluntary options, in one place.
Various options are available to customize a voluntary benefits program that best meets the needs of your current and prospective drivers:
- Telemedicine. This is one of the most popular, effective and inexpensive healthcare solutions for the trucking industry today. Some 75 percent of healthcare issues can be addressed over the phone with a board-certified physician, allowing drivers to more easily address routine needs without having to stop at an urgent care center or emergency room, or forego treatment and let their condition worsen.
- Short-term and long-term disability. Short-term disability provides income replacement for off-the-job injuries or illnesses while unable to work for a short period of time – typically up to 1 year. Long-term disability protects drivers from income loss due to prolonged injury, illness or accident. When you consider that the average Social Security Disability payment is $1,197 a month (below the federal poverty line for an individual), disability insurance becomes a necessary benefit.
- Life insurance. This is another way to protect your drivers and their families for the longer term. Industry experts recommend that individuals have enough life insurance to replace seven years of income. When you consider that only 54 percent of Americans have some sort of life insurance, you can see there is a large gap in coverage. Coverage can also be enhanced by the availability of a rider to assist in covering costs of long-term care services, should it be required.
- Accident insurance. This coverage pays benefits to the insured to help offset out-of-pocket expenses when injuries occur. It encourages drivers to take care of accidental injuries in real time, before they worsen on the job and trigger workers’ compensation claims.
- Critical illness. Studies show that excessive sitting can contribute to increased risk of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, premature death, disability, and even some cancers. Based on job duties, drivers are at great risk for such health conditions. Critical Illness coverage pays a benefit to the insured if they are diagnosed with one of the covered critical conditions to help them pay for the treatment that they need.
Finding and retaining good employees is a problem for all businesses these days – the trucking industry is not alone. Fleet operators know full well the many health risks and issues that drivers face. By providing a menu of truck driver insurance with voluntary benefits that address these risks effectively, everybody will come out ahead.
Learn how the right employee benefits program can help you attract and retain the best drivers.
HUB International’s team is ready to help you identify and deliver the benefits that will help you support your employees’ health and financial needs. Learn more about voluntary benefits for trucking companies.
To learn more about attracting and retaining drivers, visit our resource page.