The cost of insuring big rigs just got bigger. Most fleets are seeing premium increases for the second or third year in a row, and some have even seen rates double - the direct result of increasingly high legal settlements and skyrocketing auto repairs.1 Premiere fleet insurance companies, out of fear of dwindling or lack of profits, will be very selective when it comes to renewals and new quotes.
Here are HUB’s Top 10 suggestions for surviving – and thriving – in this hard fleet insurance market:
- Keep CSA safety scores low. The most common violations are also the easiest to prevent - maintenance violations for tires and lights. Pre-trip vehicle inspections can prevent most of these issues. Unsafe driving violations, including speeding, wearing a seatbelt and using hand-held cell phones while driving also carry a high CSA point value, which can be managed through training and accountability programs. Consider utilizing an MVR monitoring service to monitor driver’s license status, including suspensions and downgrades due to lack of a valid medical card.
- Implement a safety program across your fleet. Insurance carriers want to see a proactive approach to fleet safety, not just data collection without follow through. Keep safety concepts at the forefront of your driver’s minds and actions by instituting training on vehicle inspections, hours of service regulations and defensive driving concepts during training. Fleets that actively engage in safety talks statistically have less crashes.
- Hold drivers accountable. A critical component of a strong safety program is accountability. Drivers need to know about both best practices and company rules. They also need to know what will happen when violations occur. Consequences need to be appropriate and utilized consistently so that everyone understands what to expect when deficiencies occur.
- Hire good people. Make sure the drivers you bring in are a good fit for your organization. This is especially critical if your organization does not have an extensive onboarding or ongoing training program. Review the MVR and PSP closely as well as conduct a realistic road test pre-hire.
- Manage your losses. Manage the claims process for all lines of insurance and any size claim. Report all claims in a timely manner and keep good documentation. Work with the insurance company and your broker to achieve best case outcomes. The goal is to ensure claims resolve as quickly as possible and at the lowest possible cost.
- Know your numbers and tell their story. Make sure you are familiar with your large losses ($100,000+) and loss trends so you can talk to the insurance carrier about them. When a carrier talks to a prospect, and they don’t totally understand their large losses or trends, red flags go up. If rear-end collisions are common across your fleet, for example, be prepared to talk about what you’re doing to prevent them in the future.
- Be proud of what you’re doing right – and talk about it. A lot of fleets struggle to implement effective safety programs. If your fleet is utilizing best practices, let the insurance carrier know what you’re doing well so they can include it in your pricing model. Good examples of best practices include: monthly safety meetings, using telematics to track unsafe driving practices, having a strong claims communication protocol, requiring an appropriate amount of experience for all positions, having an effective discipline program and providing ongoing education for all management personnel.
- Incentivize your drivers. Create an incentive program that rewards clean roadside inspections, no preventable crashes over various intervals and positive citizen comments. Rewards can be cash or company gear - even small incentives go a long way with drivers.
- Prevent turn-over. High turnover is typically a big indicator of a fleet with safety issues. Know your turn-over rates and be able to explain why they are what they are. If they are low, tout that as well.
- Be as transparent as possible. Let your broker know what your fleet does and what changes you’ve made over the last year so there are no surprises at renewal time. Did you add or amend the services you provide, or make changes in the types of product loads you’re transporting? Did you have any critical violations, such as substance abuse or drivers without a valid CLD? Be forthcoming about these challenges and what caused them. When there’s uncertainty during the underwriting process, your costs could go up.
Contact your HUB Transportation specialist for more information on how you can keep your policy costs down and manage your fleet risk as best as possible.