New Year’s Resolution: A Safety Checklist

Happy New Year!

Here is 2013, a new year, more daylight ahead, and winter driving to deal with. As you prepare for another year of trucking, now is a good time to assess the state of your preparations.

Maintenance checks and safety checks: now is the time to take stock and bring your work up to date. This also includes looking at the state of your insurance needs and coverage.

Have you added trucks to a fleet? Brought on kinds of business? Hired a driver? You’ll want to make sure that your insurance coverage is also up to speed.

Are your documents up to date? Make sure you have vehicle registrations, your current insurance policy declarations page (“dec page”), driver’s license numbers and basic driving histories of all drivers, including speeding tickets and VIN numbers (vehicle identification numbers) of each vehicle, and verify that your lines of authority are active and in good standing.

This is a good time to review your coverage with your insurance agent. Some issues to discuss could include:

  • Liability Insurance – this is the mandatory insurance which pays for any damage you cause with your truck. Driving without this insurance is an offense and could result in heavy penalties. Are all drivers and vehicles accurate on your policy?
  • Motor Truck General Liability Insurance – this coverage pays for injuries or property damage you cause through business activities when outside of your truck.
  • Bobtail/Deadhead Insurance – also known as non-trucking liability, this insurance is voluntary when you lease your truck to another carrier. It provides coverage for your truck when you’re not under a load and not under dispatch (i.e. when you’re having it serviced).
  • Motor Truck Cargo – this insurance covers the load you’re carrying. It isn’t mandatory but some shipping companies insist on it.
  • Physical Damage Coverage – also not a legal requirement, this insurance covers your truck against perils like collision, fire, theft, vandalism and flood damage. Are all of your units insured for the correct value? It is very important to review stated amounts (limits) for each truck insured.

Are you a long-haul driver? You’ll want to check with your insurance company about the radius of operation restriction for Primary Liability coverage and how they calculate it. An insurance agency may request copies of your IFTA statements to verify how far you are travelling. Keep current copies of the last four quarters in the event the company requests them.

Whether you need insurance as an owner-operator, motor carrier or private carrier, we can advise you and quickly get the coverage and the paperwork that you need.

How to get the lowest rates on trucking insurance

If you are in the trucking industry, then you probably realize the importance of insurance that is right for you and an attentive insurance provider that acts in your best interest.

This blog is dedicated to providing advice on trucking insurance and safety. To start, we are addressing the question that is near the top of everyone’s list: how can I get cheaper trucking insurance without compromising—and when I need it?

Agent knowledge is the key. If you look past the promotional rates and other gimmicks, insurance with the same terms will cost about the same from any company. The difference is working with an agent who invests time in you. A good agent that understands the value of your truck, your freight, your driving distances, etc., can save you money by targeting your terms precisely and “trimming the fat.”

Find out how quickly your insurance company responds. If you are waiting days for proof of insurance or auto ID cards, you are losing money on time that you could be on the road. Ask your agent how quickly their company typically responds to requests. It won’t affect your premium, but it will affect your bottom line.

Help yourself. The single biggest factor in determining the cost of your insurance premium is your risk for accidents. Part of this is controlled by your past, which you can’t control. The other part is your commitment to safety for the future. Here are some tips:

  • Develop habits that encourage safety. This may mean making a checklist that you check off before hitting the road. Or memorizing the day’s itinerary. Habits help when you realize what you don’t do well. Maintenance procrastinator? Then always have your truck in the shop on the first of every month.
  • Avoid tickets. Whether for speeding or driving with a busted taillight, tickets are a sure way to raise your premiums.
  • Understand the Department of Transportation’s rules. If you are penalized by the Department of Transportation because of a failed compliance or inspection, prepare for higher premiums. This is another signal of sloppy driving. Don’t give up money simply because you didn’t know the rules.
  • Watch your credit. In some states, your credit can affect your insurance. Check with your agent to find out if this is an important factor in your premiums.

Find out what your options are. If you are planning on staying with your current insurance company, call them and find out what ways you can lower your premiums. Some may offer discounts for longer term policies or payment for the entire year upon renewal or multiple policies. If your insurance provider doesn’t have any options like these, it might be time to look elsewhere.

Understand the reality of insurance. If an insurance premium seems too good to be true, it probably is. Were you realistic in the valuation of your truck? Did you report all violations in your driving history? These may seem like easy ways to adjust your premiums in your favor, but they will end up costing you in the long term.