When you’re looking for ways to reduce your insurance premiums as a motor carrier, you’ve got to look first at the people you’re hiring to put behind the wheel and what you’re doing to ensure that they have as demanding a safety framework as possible.
When we talk to the insurance carriers that offer the transportation industry the most competitive rates and best coverage, they tell us that those companies that get the best rates concentrate on a number of specific policies and practices to improve the level of driver safety. These are things that insurers use to determine if a motor carrier has “strong safety leadership.”
Insurance carriers indicate that strong safety leadership means more than just Implementing safety policies and procedures that comply with local, state, and federal rules and regulations including FMCSA and Department of Transportation (DOT). They are looking for signs that the company is committed to making safety part of their regular conversation with employees from the time they are hired.
This starts with driver orientation and on-boarding processes, when comprehensive safety manuals should be distributed to drivers, and is followed by monthly training courses and safety meetings. There are resources for ongoing driver safety education through programs supported by agencies like the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) that identify risk factors for worker injury and collaborate with industry stakeholders to create and share prevention strategies. Safety is also linked to competence, so insurers say they look for companies to use certified trainers and utilize driver and employee tenure in their employment policies.
Many of the things insurers look for to identify motor carriers that are eligible for lower rates seem obvious but bear inclusion at this point. We’re talking about things such as documented hiring practices, MVR reviews, and making sure that driver files are properly maintained. This would also include a company’s approach to dealing with substance abuse issues in the workplace, such as hiring and random drug testing and their DOT Return to Duty (RTD) program.
Another strong indicator of a company’s commitment to safety leadership is whether they have a designated Safety Manager whose job description includes:
maintaining safety DQ files and records
monitoring all compliance items (including physicals, licenses, random drug screens, annual reviews, and hours of service regulations)
handling accidents, insurance claims and audits
filing IFTA, overweight, and other permits
assisting drivers with Electronic Logging Device (ELD) issues
Making sure safety meetings are done and documented
We’ve discussed the connection between safety and insurance rates with regard to motor carriers’ CSA “scores” or percentile ranking. We all know that those rankings are closely related to accidents, and this underlines how important driver safety is in controlling your insurance costs. The good news is that adhering to the guidelines expressed in this article will provide the insurance industry’s more competitive carriers with the driver safety profile they need to offer you the best rates possible.
In our next part of this series, we’ll take a look at tools that will make your commitment to driver safety even more of an impact on your insurance rates: the many technological innovations in driver and unit tracking, from ELDs to AI, and beyond.
It’s clear that when motor carriers are making decisions as to the rates they offer, they are also looking for a close partnership between their insurance carrier and the agents who work with them to apply for and maintain their coverage. DNI Services is committed to providing that kind of partnership, and this series is part of that commitment. We hope that sharing some of this information will help you make it through one of the biggest concerns that the trucking industry is now dealing with.
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