Category: Uncategorized

Do You Know Your Hiring Requirements?

Do you know what your automobile liability carrier requirements are to hire commercial drivers? You should!

Part of your driver qualification process should be checking the hiring requirements; you can obtain a copy of your insurance company’s hiring requirements from your insurance agent.

So what are some of the requirements? Usually, there is a minimal age and minimum years of commercial driving experience. Your insurance company may have some motor vehicle report (MVR) guidelines, so look at those closely. Typically, there are items in the requirements that prohibit you hiring a driver. These can include factors such as reckless driving, driving under the influence, or excess speeding to name a few.

A good hiring process should include reviewing the requirements, reviewing the MVR, getting approval from your insurance agent, and obtaining an approval from the underwriter. If you pull an MVR and the driver has some violations and/or accidents, then you should definitely get approval from your insurance agent and the underwriter prior to making a hire offer.

Underwriters have the ability to approve a driver, exclude a driver, and place a driver under suspension. Good communication with your insurance agent should help keep you out of trouble with your insurance company. If you change insurance companies, always ask for the driver hiring requirements prior to binding coverage or renewal in case the new hiring requirements don’t align with your hiring efforts. Your insurance agent should be able to obtain this information to give you an opportunity to make informed decisions.

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Do I Really Need Bobtail Coverage?

If you are a truck operation and you use owner operators, then yes, you should have bobtail coverage.

We have spoken to safety directors, managers, and owners at truck operations and have heard “we don’t need bobtail coverage, because our owner operator drivers are always under dispatch”. While that may be true, there is always a possibility that a driver may not follow the rules.

We have heard nightmare stories from owners of truck operations that thought they were covered, a driver had a serious accident, and the truck operation’s commercial liability insurance company had to step in and pay the claim. Think about your automobile liability insurance deductible. Do you want to pay that when you really shouldn’t have to? Of course not. So, what should you do to protect yourself?

First, if your company has more than 5 owner operators, you should contact your insurance agent and obtain a blanket policy for bobtail coverage. A blanket policy covers all of your owner operators under one insurance policy. Second, your owner operators should pay for the insurance policy. For example, if you have 10 owner operators and you purchase a blanket bobtail insurance policy for $1,000, then each owner operator driver would pay $100. Generally, this is cheaper for the owner operator driver.

What the blanket policy does for you is give you peace of mind that you have the policy in place, the premium is paid, and “knocking on wood” if your owner operator driver has an accident “while not under dispatch” you have coverage.

So, if you have less than 5 owner operator drivers you can either buy a blanket policy or verify the owner has a valid certificate of insurance showing they have bobtail coverage.

Our recommendation: call your insurance agent and purchase the blanket policy for bobtail coverage. It’s simply better risk management.

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Driver Incentives—A Different Approach

Safety and compliance programs should contain a driver incentive program. Although companies may have some variation of an incentive program, many are not as effective at improving safety outcomes as they could be. At Transport Safely, we have developed a driver incentive program that is focused on improving CSA SMS BASIC scores and accidents, both core elements that insurance companies monitor to determine if your operation has an effective safety program (effective safety programs = lower premiums). Our program includes a point system for violations and good practices and a Driver Safety Scoreboard poster to document the point system and encourage accountability among all company personnel.

Traditionally, most transportation companies that have a driver incentive program provide gift cards and safety bonuses. While this is the most common method to incentivize drivers, it generally is not as effective because only a small percentage of drivers are motivated for those incentives. Most companies we have spoken with about driver incentive programs state that about 10% of their drivers actually care about their incentive program. That means 90% of the drivers of those companies are not as focused on improving safety outcomes, which directly impacts the operation’s BASIC scores and ultimately, how insurance carriers perceive the risk of the operations.

Our program is designed to bring ALL drivers into the incentive program via a point system. Meaning, if drivers do something right, they earn positive points, and if drivers obtain violations, they receive negative points. The design of the program was simple – we wanted drivers to have the ability to earn their way back into being eligible for the safety incentive.

In a traditional driver incentive program, a driver receives a violation or has an accident and he/she is out of the running for the company safety bonus or incentive. Guess what happens…the driver loses motivation for improvement and quits caring about the safety bonus. This could easily lead to the company having a potential safety issue now.

While Transport Safely’s driver incentive program is much more involved than traditional incentive programs, we feel it gives transportation companies better safety outcomes in the long run. We have developed two separate versions of the Driver Safety Scoreboard poster, one for trucking operations and one for passenger operations. Each type of operation has different safety initiatives. Through Transport Safely’s online safety training program, safety directors and managers learn how to use our driver incentive program in an effective manner to reduce violations and improve safety outcomes.

Is your company’s driver incentive program stale and underutilized? Check out our robust training programs to learn how you can truly motivate your staff.

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Insurance Agents and the Safety Game

Insurance Agents and the Safety Game

If you are an insurance agent and you try to secure coverage for a transportation company, then you have to provide potential insurance companies proof that your client has some type of safety program. The application process usually has some questions about the type of safety program the company has and who is in charge of the safety program.

So, here’s the game. The insurance agent asks their client if they have a safety program and the client tells the insurance agent, “Sure! We have a program.” The agent fills in the application that the client has a safety program and it is submitted to insurance companies seeking coverage.

That use to cut it for many insurance agents, but it doesn’t cut it anymore. The underwriters at insurance companies are looking for “A” accounts, the accounts that have low accident frequency rates, great CSA SMS BASIC scores with the FMCSA, and a great structured and documented safety program. These same underwriters are ordering pre-quote loss control visits and loss control visits right after coverage is bound to determine if they want stay on the risk. Those underwriters are rewarding those good companies with lower insurance premiums.

Safety First

So, insurance agents need to verify that the client does have a structured and documented safety program. That includes any written policies/procedures, safety training of management, safety training of drivers, documentation of safety meetings, and show the company is proactive with their safety program.

Many transportation companies “create” a safety program and then they forget it. That doesn’t cut it either. If the transportation company has an uptick of accidents, how are they being proactive to reduce future accidents? If they have an increased number of violations with the DOT, are they actively trying to reduce future violations?

If you are an insurance agent that has transportation company clients, then it is up to you to make sure your client has a structured and documented safety program to present to an insurance underwriter. You also have to work with your clients on reducing accident frequency rates and violations. In essence, you have to turn your “C” clients into “B” clients and your “B” clients into “A” clients.

Sample Certificate of Completion

Transportation companies are looking to their insurance agents to find the best insurance premium rates, but to get the best rates they need to be an “A” client. It’s one thing to say a transportation company has a safety program and its another to prove to an insurance company they have a safety program. If you’re an insurance agent, do yourself and your transportation clients a favor and refer them to a safety program that provides a verifiable certificate of completion that an insurance underwriter can see the transportation company completed.

Learn more about our Programs

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Passenger Operation Online Safety Training Program

One challenge many transportation passenger operations like motor coach companies and bus companies face is that they have to develop a safety and training program based on truck operation safety programs. That just doesn’t work! It’s like placing a square peg into a round hole. For years, I completed audits of passenger operations and witnessed firsthand how they struggled with their safety, training, and compliance programs.

Safety personnel have been looking for a better solution. There are unique requirements for passenger operations that a trucking training solution just can’t address. The hours of service regulations, maintenance requirements, passenger safety considerations, wheelchair securement concerns, and driver supervision requirements are all different than their trucking counterparts. Finally, that solution exists – an online training program designed specifically for passenger operations.

Transport Safely’s solution is specifically for motor coach, charter bus, transit, minibus, and van operations that are subject to FMCSA regulations. This program takes the guesswork out of what passenger operations should do to be compliant with their insurance company and the FMCSA. Companies must be able to pass an insurance audit as well as a DOT compliance review. Our program is designed with those two types of audits in mind.

If you are interested to comply with insurance company recommendations and DOT regulations, we recommend that you give us a try.

If you are a passenger operation looking for a safety program to meet your company’s needs, for assistance with loss control visits and responding to recommendations, and/or navigating DOT regulations, then Transport Safely’s online safety program is for you!

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