Trucking Insurance That Keeps The Wheels Rollin…..
If you’re like other successful business owners, you’re really good at what you do. Whether you drive a Tractor, Dump, Log Truck or other big truck, trucking is what you do. You don’t have time to micro manage every aspect of your business. But if you’re not doing it and you’ve not delegated the little things to someone you can trust, who’s minding the store? Trucking insurance gaps can stop your wheels dead in their tracts.
Reviewing your insurance policy shouldn’t be one of those action items that you never review and take time to evaluate. Things change (Electronic Logging Devices), times change, operations change, personnel change, trucks change, radius of operations change; you get the picture.
When was the last time you spoke with your professional insurance agent to discuss each of the items above? Last year’s policy renewal? Two years ago, Three years ago, NEVER???
In my opinion, the Annual Insurance Review is the most neglected task that Trucking Owners fail to do. Why? Because you’re busy? You never think of it? You hate paperwork? All of these are good answers but if a claim happens, these excuses won’t fix an oversight to pay the claim. It’s just too dangerous to overlook.
Demand from you current agent that an Annual Insurance Review is a part of your Trucking Insurance program to uncover trucking insurance gaps. This simple review only takes a few minutes of your time but it could prevent an oversight that could cost you thousands, if not everything.
Gaps in coverage that can put your Trucking Business at risk
Imagine just for a moment that this is an actual conversation with your insurance agent named “Bob”.
“Bob, One of my trucks has been in an accident and I need to file a claim. It’s a bad one and my driver is hurt. The other guy is ok but banged up pretty bad. The truck is totaled and my load is scattered down the highway. The trailer doesn’t belong to me and it’s a twisted mess. I’ve got DOT asking a lot of questions about my insurance coverage. I need some help Bob. I need some help.”
As you read this, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? You’re probably thinking about Liability Limits, Collision coverage for your tractor and Cargo coverage for your load. But what about your driver? Who’s going to pay for his medical care, lost wages, and other issues? Do you have coverage for him? Are your liability limits high enough for all the damages? Do you have coverage for the non-owned trailer that’s now a twisted mess? Can you get a rental truck keep your business going?
This isn’t a pleasant scenario is it? But there’s hope. Discussing your business operations annually with your professional agent will make sure that the gaps that are in your plan are plugged and filled. When’s the best time to discuss these gaps with your agent? TODAY!
Several key questions to ask your current insurance agent
When you’re choosing an insurance agent to buy and service your Trucking Insurance coverage, there are some key questions you should ask.
How many insurance companies do you access for my specific needs?
What is your experience in the Trucking Insurance industry?
Do you offer and follow-up with Annual Insurance Reviews? If so, how?
Is the coverage offered adequate for my trucking business needs?
Is there any insurance coverage that you’ve not offered to me?
Should a claim occur, how do I file the claim quickly and easily?
What is the turn-around time for Certificates of Insurance?
Is my policy Direct Billed, Agency Billed or Premium Financed?
Will you check on me throughout the year?
Let’s discuss each of these.
Many insurance agents only have access to ONE insurance company for your coverage. This often happens when you’re dealing with your Home/Auto insurance agent for your Trucking Insurance needs. This can be dangerous to your business.
One insurance company might do the trick but sometimes more choices are better. If your agent can shop many insurance companies for your specific business needs, you win.
Choose a Trucking Insurance agent that doesn’t “Dabble” in the business. Make sure they know what they’re doing. Your Trucking business depends on the professionals that you surround yourself with. I’m sure you wouldn’t hire an Eye Doctor to perform Heart Surgery.
An agent that schedules annual insurance policy reviews are worth their weight in gold. These reviews are the secret to protecting your business with adequate and correct insurance coverage.
When your agent finds out what type of trucking operation you have, this should pin point some specific coverages and options. Don’t pull your agent through the process; they should be leading the conversation.
This question should be answered with a NO. If your agent has done their job, you will be handed some options to either buy or decline. Your professional agent should offer insurance products that will adequately protect your business. It’s up to you whether you buy them or not.
Claims should be easy to file. Know what is expected of you during a claim and stay in touch with your agent.
Your paychecks are often connected to getting a Certificates of Insurance from your agent. Find out the turn-around time for a completed certificate of insurance. Your agent likes to get paid and I’m sure you do as well.
Policy premium payments can be billed in several ways. Direct billing is from the insurance company. This is my preferred way to bill our trucking insurance clients. Agency Billing is all handled through the agency and is another step in the process. Premium Financing is often used when the other two options aren’t a good fit. The down side to Premium Financing it the amount you will pay in interest charges for your policy premium. Find out from your agent what they use and is it the best option for you.
Don’t accept being ignored throughout the year. Wouldn’t it be nice to get a call periodically from your agent just to check on you? I thought you might.
Great Prices for Transportation Insurance Shouldn’t be this hard
Have you settled for the fact that Transportation Insurance is just plain expensive? Well you don’t have to. Don’t give up yet. There’s good news.
I’ve found over the years that many Trucking business owners are taking charge of their best business practices. There’s a few ways to take charge of your insurance pricing.
First; consider hiring only experienced drivers. Drivers with at least 2 years of CDL experience make a big difference in your insurance choices.
Second; what is the number of different routes your driver’s use. The more you regular routes you operate in, the more familiar your drivers are, therefore the insurance companies like this.
Next; your DOT safety record is out there for the world to see. If the world can see it, so can your insurance company. The number of unsatisfactory vehicle and driver inspections will play havoc on your pricing and/or coverage options. Keep your DOT record in excellent standing.
More Money Saving Tips to Consider
Another tip; choose an agent that understands Transportation Insurance. By choosing a trucking insurance specialist is vital to getting the best priced policy. They will ask important questions to make sure that you’re getting the best price and coverage. You deserve that!
One more tip; establish a safety program that makes sense to your company and your drivers. A company safety program and a driver training will demonstrate that your organization makes safety a top priority. Not only will this help keep your premium down, it’s also just good business.
Finally; hire drivers that know the importance of a clean driving record. I know this sounds very basic. It is basic. An employee with a poor driving record can absolutely destroy your insurance pricing. Hire drivers with a good 3 year driving record. No more than 2 minor moving violations is your target.
I know what you’re thinking. You’re doing your best on these tips but everything in your business just isn’t perfect. That’s ok. A good agent will search for the best insurance company, coverage and pricing for your specific needs. The key is to have a good agent that understands your business.
Insurance Coverage that can keeps your wheels turning
I’ve done countless Annual Policy Reviews with my clients over the years and one thing that is for certain; changes are always going to happen. Insurance gaps can be catastrophic to your trucking business.
Remember my earlier comments about Annual Policy Reviews? I’m not going to beat that dead horse again, I promise. But making sure you’re covered correctly is the job of your professional transportation agent.
Here are two real life stories from two of my clients. To keep the names confidential and to keep me from being sued, we’ll call them Paul and James for the sake of discussion.
Don’t be a Trucker Like Paul
Paul was an owner operator of a Log Transport business. The key word is “Was”.
Paul chose me to be his professional agent for his start-up log trucking business. His only concern was getting his truck insured to satisfy his legal requirements. The term I hear often is, “I need liability only so I can get my For Hire Tags”.
I often cringe when I hear this phrase because I know what is at stake. I offered to put Collision, Rental with Downtime and Comprehensive Coverage on the Tractor. But Paul insisted on “liability only” insurance coverage and that’s what he got.
Less than a month later, Paul called to report an accident. His Log Truck rolled over and was totaled. Luckily he wasn’t hurt but he didn’t have any coverage for his truck. No truck meant no more business. No business meant no more money. No more money meant that Paul is now driving for someone else as an employee. To add salt to Paul’s wounds, he had to pay the tow bill out of his own pocket. And you know that wasn’t a cheap tow bill.
Learn from a Successful Trucker Like James
My other client James is my success story. James is a Sand/Gravel Dump Trucking business. James operates a very sizable fleet of Dump Trucks. Operating a Fleet means he has large payrolls to fill, employees to support and many people depending on him to make good management decisions.
James had upgraded some of his trucking fleet and was trying to keep his insurance costs down. As his professional trucking agent, I squeezed the numbers as much as I could but James had to make some tough decisions. Either cut coverages or maintain his current level of insurance protection.
James decided, with much thought, to keep his Fleet coverage at maximum protection.
He’s glad he did. Shortly after his decision, a four wheeler rant one of his fully loaded trucks off the road. The truck rolled over in the ditch, spilled it’s load and was a total loss. A brand new Quad Dump Truck, TOTALED.
The story doesn’t end on a sad note. James didn’t miss a beat. Since he had kept his excellent coverage, he was back better than ever. His truck was totaled and paid, he received money from the Rental and Down Time and his load was properly cleaned up.
James’ story is why I do what I do. I help transportation business owners stay in business when the bad stuff happens. When your business wins, I win. I want to be on the winning side every time. Don’t you?
26,001 lbs. 1 pound does make a difference. A big difference
Does “1” little pound make a difference to my insurance company? Yes it does and here’s why.
If your truck has a GVW of 26,000 pounds, you may not be required to have higher liability limits of insurance according to your local laws. This can pose a big problem for your business if you need or desire the higher liability limits. Many insurance agents can’t access multiple insurance markets to meet this requirement.
I see it all the time with my Tow/Roll Back business owners. These folks have lighter GVW vehicles but will require the higher insurance coverages to satisfy their contracts. Because they have used insurance agents in the past that have limited insurance markets, they sometimes miss out of getting these very important contracts.
The key to this “1” pound issue is to have access to many insurance markets by utilizing a professional transportation insurance agent. Don’t let “1” pound becomes a problem for your business.
Choosing the right Insurance Agent & Company is good business
Eye doctors are really good at working on your eyes. Dentists are really good at working on your teeth. But an Eye doctor would probably be a bad choice to perform your root canal.
That’s why choosing a Specialty Insurance Agent for your Transportation Company just means smart business. They can help you uncover your trucking insurance gaps.
Many insurance companies specialize in Transportation Insurance. On the other hand many insurance companies don’t. Finding the ones that can offer you the coverage you need at a fair price is a task that should be left to a Specialized Agent.
I think one of the biggest problems that many Transport Owners face is not having adequate insurance coverage. Using a Specialty Agent as a tool to help you navigate through the maze of insurance issues can be your best tool in your tool box.
About The Author
Rodney Stewart is the principle agent and owner of the Tristar Insurance Services, LLC. Rodney maintains many insurance licenses and has earned a national insurance designation. He is a SBCS, Small Business Coverage Specialist Fellow and also is a licensed Insurance Broker.
He has insured over 8,000 businesses and families his 18 year insurance career. Rodney has helped his clients to select the coverage that will best protect their quality of life should an insured catastrophic event occur.
You can contact Rodney at his office email Rodney.firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 910-891-7081.