Best Insurance Practices for Better Premiums

Best Insurance Practices

2021 Insurance Saving Tip #40

Study your insurance loss runs

While loss run reports are available for insurance policies covering General Liability, Commercial Property, and Worker’s Compensation, our focus will be on Commercial Auto insurance, covering any vehicle used in business.

The Loss Runs Report or Loss History is generated by an insurance company and contains data for any claims in the last 3 to 5 years. Your agent or broker may have a copy or can obtain a copy for you.

Check for the accuracy of the data. Your loss runs represent your company’s safety performance from the insurance side of things.

Check who was driver. Human factors (driver behaviors) are the leading cause of vehicle collisions, and a few drivers can be responsible for the majority of collisions.

Is the same driver making the same mistakes? Is the driver able to participate in coaching or training? Has there been a sudden change in driver performance? Is the driver undergoing stress at home?

Flag any high-risk drivers for further review.

Check for both collision frequency (number of occurrences) and severity (size of claims).

As a general principle, frequency of prior losses are considered by the insurance industry to be predictive of future losses.

In regard to accident frequency, what types of collisions are trending?

Pay particular attention to: rear-end collisions, backing, side-swipes, roll-overs, loss-of-control, and any collisions involving injuries or a fatality. What measures can be taken to eliminate future incidences?

Smaller, fender-bender collisions also have a story to tell, as they can be predictive of future collisions. Again, look for trends.

The end goal of your loss-runs study should be a gradual, year-to-year reduction in all classes of collisions.

Your loss runs have a story to tell. It’s up to you to write the ending.

2021 Insurance Saving Tip #41

Use a spotter when backing

  • Backing collisions are responsible for 25% of collisions, according to the National Safety Council.
  • Backing collisions range in severity from property damage to unintentional fatalities.
  • No private industry or governmental unit is immune from backing incidents and accidents.
  • Like most collisions, backing incidents are 100% preventable.
  • Unfortunately, larger vehicles have larger blindspots.
  • No matter how careful a driver is while backing, both pedestrians and other vehicles can come into conflict with his or her vehicle, or something can simply not be in sight to the driver.

What about new and advanced technology?

  • One 2009 study of 73 camera-based rear view systems found they can help to reduce collisions about 40%.
  • On the other hand, the NHTSA concluded “sensor-based systems do not perform well enough to effectively prevent backing crashes.”
  • Even with advanced technology, there can be a backing safety gap.
  • For decades, the use of a spotter when backing has been recommended as a safety best practice.

In using a spotter:

  • Agree on signals before backing begins
  • At all times, keep the spotter in sight.
  • Stop, if you lose sight of your spotter.

The driver is always 100% responsible for collision-free backing, with or without a spotter.

2021 Insurance Saving Tip #42

Provide a comprehensive orientation for new hires

  • According to onboarding expert John Kammeyer-Mueller, not a lot of research has been conducted on the first 90 days on the job. But his own research shows, “Those initial expectations and attitudes and interactions can really, early on, change the way that somebody fits into a new job.”
  • Kammeyer-Mueller has found this initial uptake period is critical to new hires, as support from supervisors and co-workers typically starts to drop off the longer a new hire is on the job.

Tips for a better onboarding experience:

  • Whether meeting with an individual or in small groups, are the doors closed and phones set to voicemail, with the ringer off?
  • Are explanations provided on not only what is being covered, but why it is important?
  • Are new hires encouraged to ask questions throughout the process?
  • Are the new hires provided with a clear set of expectations, both long and short-term?
  • Are key staff welcoming, when they meet with the new hire?
  • Is the new hire provided with “go-to” contacts for any ongoing questions, issues, and concerns?
  • Are both pre and post training assessments completed?
  • Is all initial safety training completed within 90 days and any critical safety training done before the start of the task?
  • Is the orientation carefully structured?

“We can do more than just orientation programs, but we need to make sure that that doesn’t stop early on. We need to maintain it through those first 90 days, so that the newcomer can continue to build those relationships, can continue to learn more about the job.”

—John Kammeyer-Mueller

2021 Insurance Saving Tip #43

Enforce a Safe Backing Policy

Why do so many backing incidents and collisions occur (about twenty-five per cent of all accident)?

  • According to the Texas Department of Insurance, the main reason is due to poor driver technique.
  • Adding to that is the fact that some drivers feel pressured when backing off a busy street or onto a legacy dock, one perhaps not designed for modern vehicles.

What can be done to prevent backing collisions?

  • In a previous best practice (#41), the use of a spotter was highly recommended, as even the deployment of new tech as backing cameras will not eliminate 100% of all backing accidents.
  • But much more is needed to be done to ensure safe backing.

Problem area: A new employee is on-boarded or a new equipment configuration is mobilized

  • Best practice solution: Have a process in place so all new employees can do some practice backing, and upskill their backing, if necessary.
  • The same applies if new equipment is mobilized. Staff needs to get used to potential blind spots and the use of mirrors.
  • Provide coaching and practice to staff in need of it.

Problem area: In busy environments others may not notice a vehicle in reverse motion.

Best practice solution :

  1. The operator or driver should tap the horn twice every time before backing. The first time to get attention, and the second time so others can determine the direction.
  2. Put on the emergency lights (4-ways) when backing, and keep them on until done with the movement.

Problem area: There can be obstructions or obstacles in the intended backing pathway.

  • Best practice solution: The operator or driver must walk the pathway each and every time before backing, looking for low-hanging wires or other protrusions, people, vehicles, etc. Drivers need to recall: G.O.A.L. Get Out And Look!

Problem area: Reversing quickly can lead to problems or conflicts quickly occurring, or damage to the vehicle when striking the dock.

  • Best practice solution: The driver should always reverse slowly, at idle speed. This enables timely corrections to be made, if necessary, and mitigates any potential conflicts. Double-check the mirrors before starting, ensuring all mirrors are properly adjusted.

Use a spotter when backing (See Tip #41)

More Backing Guidelines:

  • Don’t back, unless it is absolutely required.
  • Never back for any more distance than is necessary.
  • Be ready at any time to stop or yield right of way to anyone else.
  • The driver/operator should never be out of the seat or outside of the cab, while the vehicle is in motion.
  • Drivers should know their limitations, and not attempt any backing they believe would be unsafe.
  • Put your backing policy in writing and ensure staff are aware of it and follow it.
  • Have a process in place so all new employees can do some practice backing and regular staff can practice on any newly mobilized equipment.
  • The operator or driver should tap the horn twice every time before backing, and use the emergency lights when backing.
  • The operator or driver must walk the pathway each and every time before backing. Remember G.O.A.L.!
  • The driver should always reverse slowly, at idle speed, checking the mirrors are properly adjusted before starting.
  • Use a spotter or guide when backing
  • Don’t back, if possible.

In summary:

  • Have a process in place so all new employees can do some practice backing and regular staff can practice on any newly mobilized equipment.
  • Drivers need to be a aware of their limitations.
  • Codify and enforce your backing policy.
  • Do not hesitate to provide coaching and additional practice in backing, if needed. Always remember, after a while, all skills are perishable. ■

2021 Insurance Saving Tip #44

Road Test All Drivers Before Hire

Overview:

  • Every driver should be given a road test.
  • In most circumstances, administering a road test is a matter of law, required for DOT-regulated drivers on the federal level, and in those states which have adopted the federal rules.
  • Road testing is taken very seriously by best-in-class companies.

Why road test all drivers?

    • Road testing is simply good risk management. A road test is another way to vet drivers, determine their level of skill, and, as importantly, evaluate their attitude toward driving.
    • Road testing can also inform management of drivers in need of additional training or coaching at hire or throughout their employment.

Note: If the driver does not have a CDL, but is a DOT regulated driver who is driving a Commercial Motor Vehicle (CMV), he or she MUST be road tested and given a certificate of road test. And any DOT-regulated non-CDL owners, partners, managers or owner-operators are also required to be road-rested. The road test must be given by someone else.
An example could be the driver of a pickup at or over 10,001 pounds GVWR, or a crane under 26,001 pounds GVWR.

CDL drivers who always need to be road tested at hire include drivers requiring endorsements because they are driving doubles or triples, or tank vehicles.

Road Testing for Driving Skills

In a 10-year period, I administered thousands of road tests as an examiner.

Essential elements for any good road test should include 1.) a vehicle representative of one the driver will drive 2.) a predetermined route, and 3.) a means to document the test.

  • (1.) The vehicle should be roadworthy and legal to drive.
  • (2.) The predetermined route should be a minimum of 45 minutes in length to get a good snapshot of the driver’s driving ability and attitude.
  • Drivers need time to relax and reveal their true driving style.
  • Before hitting the road, it’s a good idea to let the driver do a complete pre-trip inspection. Note anything that was missed.
  • Include the coupling and uncoupling of combination units, if the equipment he/she may drive includes combination units.
  • After the walkaround or pre-trip inspection, do some “range” exercises in your yard before going out on the road.
  • This might include some straight-line backing, backing the vehicle in between other vehicles, or backing around a 90-degree curve.
  • The driver’s range proficiency should be adequate enough to ensure the applicant has sufficient driving skills to safely drive during the on-the-road portion of the test
  • The on-road portion of the road test should include:
    • 1. Four left-hand and four right-hand turns.
    • 2. A straight section of road in or near a business district.
    • 3. Three or more intersections with various ‘controls’ as stop, yield, a yellow caution light, etc.
    • 4. A railroad crossing.
    • 5. At least one tight curve.
    • 6. A five-mile section of limited access highway or expressway or a stretch of rural two-lane highway. The applicant should demonstrate lane changing during that part of the test.
    • 7. A downgrade long enough to allow the driver to demonstrate downshifting and /or stopping without rolling.
    • 8. An upgrade (hill) to show stopping/starting without rolling backward.
    • 9. An underpass or bridge with a posted weight limit or some other hazard which the driver should see and identify to the examiner when asked.
  • The same person should administer the road test and should be a qualified, experienced driver.
  • When done, give the driver positive feedback, and any areas that need to be improved. If hired, make note of any future coaching or training opportunities.
  • A signed copy of the road test and certificate of completion must be kept in the DOT driver qualification file. A certificate of road test completion should also be given to the applicant.
  • (3.) The DOT has a sample “Driver’s Road Test Evaluation Form” available online, which can be adapted to your specific needs.
  • Road Test Form

    Road Test Form

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Other Road Test variations:

  • Some companies do a road test with a live load.
  • Some companies will do two separate road tests, to both help eliminate any bias on part of the person giving the test, and to get a better picture of the driver they are hiring.
  • Some companies will do a road test after a driver has been involved in a collision, involving their driving skills.
  • Some companies do annual coaching “check-rides.”

Timing of the Road Test

    • The road test may be conducted before administering the DOT pre-employment drug screen.
    • After receiving results of the drug test and after a job-offer, the DOT physical can be administered.

Summary

    • Every driver should be road tested.
    • Road testing is simply good risk management.
    • Road testing can show which drivers are in need of upskilling or coaching at hire or throughout their employment.
    • A good road test consists of a pre-trip, range and 45 minutes on the road.
    • Document the road test and give good driver-feedback. ■

Another Batch of Insurance Saving Tips

Best Insurance Practices

2021 Insurance Saving Tip #35

Become your organization’s Safety Evangelist

What is a Safety Evangelist?
⦁ Guy Kawasaki popularized the term “evangelist” in the early days of Apple Computer as Apple’s brand ambassador and promotor
⦁ The word evangelist is from Greek euangelistes “preacher of the gospel,” literally “bringer of good news”
⦁ Likewise, a Safety Evangelist is someone in the role of an ambassador and promotor of organizational safety.

Why do we need a Safety Evangelist? We already have a Safety Department!

The typical safety department is very busy, sometimes taking on several additional admin functions, leaving only limited time, if any, for its primary safety mission. In some organizations safety is another word for compliance. I’s are always dotted, and t’s are always crossed, but few new safety initiatives are proactively developed.

Says Safety Evangelist Marco van Daal, author of The Art of Heavy Transport: “Ideally we want zero accidents. Realistically . . . this is not possible. We are working with humans and humans make mistakes.”

Van Daal believes half of all accidents can be eliminated by better communication and training. Says van Daal:

  • When things are not made perfectly clear, they are subject to interpretation. This can lead to serious safety issues.
  • The workforce is becoming increasingly diverse and multicultural, in turn contributing to issues in basic communication.
  • Training is all about communication and training is often not a separate budget line item at many firms.

A Safety Evangelist:

  • Exchanges ideas respectfully, builds goodwill, and communicates in a way so everyone can learn from each other.
  • Makes connections with people, and as Michael Mathieu, CEO of expert platform Prox says, has “an opportunity to effect change in every conversation I have”  by being a catalyst “for change in a positive way.”

Become your organization’s Safety Evangelist today!

2021 Insurance Saving Tip #36

Adopt these Good Inspection Practices

Any equipment on your books is valuable to your business, be it a truck, trailer, forklift or mobile crane. Operator inspections are critical to retain that value. Faults and defects can be frequently found even on new equipment. But they can’t be repaired or mitigated unless they are first discovered.

Problem: The equipment was involved in a serious incident or accident. Perhaps it and any on-board records of recent inspections were destroyed. Perhaps the tablet used for the inspection crashed.

How can a firm show any evidence or prove an inspection was done?

• Best Insurance Practice: Operators should get in the habit of doing all of their pre-trip (vehicles) or pre-operational (lifting, cranes, forklift) inspections in a public area, where they can be seen by others or are under surveillance video.

If later investigated, for example, in litigation, witnesses to, or video tape of the inspection can then be provided.

Another good practice: When an operator returns to the equipment, approach the truck, crane, etc., from the opposite side they left it, for a quick visual check.

Perhaps a tire is flat, or a seal is leaking, or there is hidden damage, or someone left a shovel or crowbar leaning against the opposite side.

Operators need to look for anything unusual.

Problem: Vehicles are stopped at roadside inspection stations and ticketed or cited.

Solution: Usually there is a public Rest Area before the inspection station. Drivers need to pull in here and do a quick walkaround, checking the lights, tires and general condition of the vehicle, wiping off any dirty lights or reflectors, and making any necessary repairs, before proceeding.

While en route to a destination, each time the driver makes a rest stop, it’s always a good recommended practice to check the lights, tires and general condition of the vehicle or load, wiping off any dirty lights or reflectors, and so on.

2021 Insurance Saving Tip #37

Have and Enforce a Mandatory Seat-Belt Usage Policy

Sometimes, something so basic, so fundamental is often overlooked by many of the companies I review. Something that has a huge, huge, impact on your enterprise’s insurance risk profile and premiums, or these days, even the opportunity to obtain insurance at any cost.

One of the first things law enforcement officers always look for during an inspection is to check if the driver is wearing a seat belt.

Your insurance company is also checking if your drivers have been wearing their seat belts while driving. In fact, driver citations for not wearing a seat belt (or safety belt) are considered a serious RED FLAG by insurance companies.

Why is that?

Data from seat belt and driver behavior studies suggest unbelted drivers:

  • Work for an employer without a written safety program
  • Have had at least one moving violation in the past year
  • Often drive 10 mph or more over the speed limit
  • In other words, the unbelted driver is a risky driver or high-risk driver.

Other supporting facts:

  • In any given collision, the likelihood of unrestrained drivers becoming a fatality is higher.
  • Year-to-year, about half of all fatal collisions involve people who are not wearing seat belts
  • Looked at in another way, the odds of dying in a collision when a driver is not wearing a seatbelt are one in two.

What Employers Can Do?

—Enforce a mandatory seat belt use policy.

  • Drivers: (a.)Need to be aware of the policy and (b.) the consequences of violation, up to and including separation from employment.

2021 Insurance Saving Tip #38

Ask the DOT Roadside Inspector to write up any passing inspections

During commercial truck roadside inspections:

  • Vehicles or drivers with observable faults or infractions are “written up” during the inspection.
  • Vehicles passing an inspection, are sometimes not given a “write-up.”

This focus on the negative data can severely skew the U.S. DOT’s Safety Measurement System (SMS) scorekeeping, adversely affecting insurance premiums.

See more on the DOT’s SMS here.

Be sure your drivers always ask the DOT Roadside Inspector to write up or document any passing inspections.

2021 Insurance Saving Tip #39

Help your drivers to prepare for emergencies

Common road emergencies can happen at any time to any driver. How the driver responds can make a big difference on the outcome

The key word here is ‘respond,’ not react, as in some situations as driving on black ice, a blown tire,  front wheel skid, or a tire fire, the proper response could be considered counterintuitive.

Like good pilots who regularly practice emergency landings in both out of cruise flight and immediately after takeoff, drivers also need training and practice on how to deal with an emergency or how to prevent or mitigate a potential emergency from turning into something worse.

It might be a surprise, but preparing drivers for the worst, does not have to break the budget.

For example, numerous emergency driving situations can be gone over in a driving simulator. 

Check with your local community colleges with training programs, truck driving schools, or larger fleets for available driver simulator training.

For example, the Michigan Center for Truck Safety, funded by the State, has a Mobile Truck Simulator Program that they will bring on site to your location in Michigan. There is no cost for using their mobile simulator.

As almost no road is the U.S. is immune from slippery conditions, in addition to simulator training, every driver should undergo hands-on, skid school training.

Again, start locally. If none are convenient, then consider sending your drivers through a hands-on winter driving course.

In review:

  • Emergencies can befall any driver at any time.
  • Drivers need to be prepared for emergencies.
  • The best preparation is training and practice.
  • Emergency training does not necessarily have to cost a lot, but rather should be seen as an investment with real returns, including increased safety and lower insurance premiums.

Summary of today’s Insurance Saving Tips

  • #35 Become your organization’s Safety Evangelist
  • #36 Adopt these Good Inspection Practices
  • #37 Have and Enforce a Mandatory Seat-Belt Usage Policy
  • #38 Ask the DOT Roadside Inspector to write up any passing inspections
  • #39 Help your drivers to prepare for emergencies

More Best Insurance Practices for Better Premiums

Inspection

Inspection

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

More Best Insurance Practices in Our continuing Series

2021 Insurance Saving Tip #30

Use qualified third parties for your required annual equipment inspections

Both OSHA (heavy lifting equipment) and the U.S. DOT (on-road vehicles) have specific regulatory requirements for their respective annual equipment inspections.

In some smaller operations, owners sometimes “self-certify” their annual inspections, primarily as a cost savings. If they are qualified inspectors, this is their option.

Consequently, however, some of these required inspections are not always done on a timely basis, or even done at all.

Why use third-party inspectors (TPIs)?

Some advantages of TPIs include:

  • Better documentation of the inspection
  • Enforcement of required repairs and faults that might be deferred
  • Better regulatory compliance
  • “Another set of eyeballs”
  • Completion on a timely basis
  • No question of the quality of the inspection

Utilizing third-party inspectors for annual inspections, I believe, is an investment that can help lower insurance premiums and avoid further correspondence from insurance underwriters.

2021 Insurance Saving Tip #31

Set up an Inspection Safety Lane

An inspection safety lane can be set up to inspect any rolling stock as it is leaving or returning to your yard.

An inspection safety lane can be used for a quick walk-around, checking tires, lights, and overall condition, or go more in depth, as in a complete pre-trip inspection.

Bonus Tip:

Sometimes an injured employee needs to return to work doing some light-duty tasks.

Helping an injured employee off of workers’ compensation by performing the role of Safety Lane Inspector can be mutually beneficial for all parties, directly affecting insurance premiums.

2021 Insurance Saving Tip #32

Adopt the ‘Inspect to Fail’ Inspection Standard

Some of the most frequent questions asked by drivers include:

  • When does the condition of the vehicle (or load) merit not driving any further due to major or serious faults?
  • When may a vehicle be driven to a repair facility?
  • When is a vehicle roadworthy even though it may harbor minor faults?

Crane operators can have the same questions in their operations.

Solution: Adopt the ‘Inspect to Fail’ Inspection Standard

‘Inspect to fail’ is a best practice, based on the concept that most, if not all, equipment failures and equipment-related safety issues are preventable with frequent thorough inspections and superior preventative maintenance.

‘Inspect to fail’ means, if a part, component or system on a vehicle (or the load or driver) does not meet, or fails to meet any standard of safety, the fault will be corrected before operations commence.

The equipment is, literally, ‘inspected to fail.’

Drivers/operators are held accountable for catching and acting on *all equipment and safety defects.

*Note: Corrective action will depend on the severity of the fault(s), but safety is always non-negotiable.

2021 Insurance Saving Tip #33

Document all inspections

Drivers, crane, hoisting, forklift, and other equipment operators need to complete equipment inspections before use, under both OSHA and DOT Regulations.

These dally inspections should be documented either in writing or electronically.

Why document inspections?

  • It’s required by state and federal law, with few exceptions.
  • “If it’s not in writing, it’s not been done.”
  • It’s a proven best practice

Professional Level:

  • Train your drivers and operators to always note one or two things in the REMARKS section, that they did during the inspection (check oil, tire pressure, etc.)
Remarks

Remarks

And always be sure to “Inspect before you check” the form.

2021 Insurance Saving Tip #34

Teach your drivers the Smith System® of Collision Avoidance

What’s the insurance issue?

  • Analytical data insights from firms as Omnitracs suggest some drivers could have taken evasive action to have avoided a major to severe collision but did not.

An Omnitracs’ Accident Severity Model data analysis (2015) has found in some of the most severe collisions* that drivers:

  • Took zero evasive action
  • Could have seen the point of impact 6-7 seconds prior to impact (if awake), and
  • Made no attempt to minimize damage at the point of impact (braked or steered away).

(*Roll-Over, Run-off Road, Head-on, Jack-knife, Side-swipe, Rear-end)

What can be done?

Use The Smith System® of collision avoidance. The idea for Harold L. Smith’s copyrighted system for safe driving came to him in the Navy during WWII.

Smith read a notice on a board in Guam pointing out how many servicemen were dying in car collisions. After the war, Smith researched vehicle collisions and concluded the majority of collisions were caused by “a lack of vision.”

  • The foundation of The Smith System® are The Smith5Keys®
  • The key to safe driving is in managing time and space. More space gives you more time, and more time gives you more space, and more options. This is a fundamental rule of safe driving, no matter your age or level of experience.

The Smith5Keys ®  are designed to provide drivers with the knowledge and skills to create three important things while driving:

  • Space to maneuver their vehicle away from conflict
  • Visibility to detect danger and the potential for conflict with another vehicle or fixed object early
  • Time to react to volatile and complex driving environments”

What are Smith Systems’ ® five keys ?

  • Key 1. Aim High In Steering®
  • As pilots are similarly taught to use their vision to mentally stay ahead of their aircraft, both anticipating and responding to potential obstacles in their flight path, drivers should, “look ahead to where you will be at least 15 seconds into your future.”
  • “A 15-second eye-lead time provides advanced warning and gives you an additional margin of safety.”

Key 2. Get The Big Picture®

  • Again, like pilot training, this rule is about continually maintaining, complete situational awareness when driving.
  • Drivers are taught to not only look far ahead, but to both sides, and to “Check at least one of your mirrors every 5 to 8 seconds.”

Key 3. Keep Your Eyes Moving®

  • While behind the wheel, the best drivers learn not to fixate on a certain point, and to visually focus where needed.
  • “Keep your eyes moving every 2 seconds.”
  • Visually scanning all intersections and rail-grade crossings
  • Looking for errant drivers

Key 4. Leave Yourself An Out®

  • Leaving an out, means always having a place to go, when there is no other place to go.
  • Manage the space all around the vehicle, leaving a safety cushion, to avoid entanglements with others

Key 5. Make Sure They See You®

  • Always be visible to other drivers
  • Lights are kept clean and on for safety
  • Maintain eye contact with other drivers

In Summary

Distracted driving is on the rise. More people than ever are texting, phoning or driving inattentively. There are more drivers taking meds or combinations of meds that could affect their driving. States are issuing operator licenses to undocumented drivers. There are simply more drivers out there than before and the need for advanced driving skills is greater than ever.

Professional drivers need documented collision-avoidance training to help keep our insurance premiums from rising faster.■

5 More Insurance Best Practices to Help Stabilize Your Premiums

Preventing “Nuclear Verdicts”

This week I attended Idelic’s Preventing “Nuclear Verdicts” webinar. Idelic is a driver management platform.

I learned almost any sized trucking company can be involved in a large claim. The possibility of any realistic tort reform in the near future is uncertain. Until that happens, multi-million dollar verdicts, the so-called Nuclear Verdicts, will continue to plague anyone with their own trucks on the road.

What is certain is that the larger trucking companies (who mostly self-insure), would like to raise the $750,000 insurance requirement for all companies. This helps the larger motor carriers because raising the primary insurance means fewer of the large losses would be shifted to “excess” coverage (covering losses over the $750,000 threshold).

Like most political solutions, this one will probably end up as some sort of compromise, resulting in, sooner or later, higher coverage requirements and higher costs. How high is anyone’s guess.

While that’s all getting sorted out, there are things you can do to stabilize your insurance premiums.

One crucial response is to adopt industry best practices—proven techniques to streamline and improve your business.

To succeed in this business, as one business guru said, you don’t need a bigger checkbook, you need a bigger idea book. Not every idea will work because every business is both similar and very different to any other business.

You don’t need a bigger checkbook, you need a bigger idea book.

But if even one in five ideas are productive, then that’s a 20% advantage you have given yourself. Best of all, you can decide whenever you want to implement the new initiative. Proceed at your own pace.

Without further adieu, here are the next five ideas.

5 More Insurance Best Practices

2021 Insurance Saving Tip #25

Relocate to another state with lower rates.

Premiums can vary by state for like or similar operations. While moving seems drastic, and no agent is ever going to make this recommendation, some owners have told me high insurance rates have prompted a physical move of their business to another jurisdiction. Some states, like Florida, are notorious for higher commercial auto insurance premiums, while others, like—surprise, surprise, California—have better competitive rates due to a greater volume of business.

Some fleets have found they can serve their customers better by establishing a beachhead in another state and gradually shifting over their operations.

This can be a real option if you are located near the state border and such a move would not be particularly disruptive to the business, or if you have a dedicated lane ending in a state with lower-premiums.

2021 Insurance Saving Tip #26

Be 100% transparent in your dealings with your insurance partners.

There is ofttimes a fear amongst some organizations that, if they are asked an insurance question, the response always needs to be tailored in a certain way or else something negative will result (higher premiums, increased scrutiny, and the like).

An example is the owner of a new startup, who declares affirmatively in a post-bind safety review, that they have met or exceeded every safety and regulatory standard, each employee is stringently vetted and thoroughly trained, and all equipment is daily inspected and frequently maintained.

Contrast that with the owner with 10, 20 or 40 years in business who has perhaps gone through dozens of reviews. In my experience, I hear fairly candid answers and get honest pushback. “No, we don’t have any training videos. Can’t afford them.”

Who is more believable?

Secondly, some insurance questions might not always apply to your operations. It’s possible the electronic form won’t permit any further progress unless the question is answered.

Thirdly, if you really fall short somewhere, all the insurance company expects, if it’s really something serious, is to correct it in due time. That’s all. No worries.

Top companies do their part and make transparency their cornerstone for better insurance quotes and exceptional levels of service.

2021 Insurance Saving Tip #27

Be aware of all of your risks (exposures) and have a risk management program in place for those risks . . . before insuring them.

Often a business evolves as new opportunities present themselves. For example, a taxi-crane company starts renting telehandlers to contractors (but perhaps doesn’t inform the insurance company). Or a dry van operation adds open deck trailers, then drop deck or even RGN trailers to do heavy haul. In these instances, the risks have increased for both the business and the insurance company.

Agents are not always keen on the particular subtleties of equipment, and the resulting risks/exposures from its operation. In addition, not all agents necessarily have had training in risk management for your particular line of work.

What to do?

• Start by knowing your risks and what needs to be done to address each of them on an ongoing basis. For at least the first six months, adding different types or classes of new or unfamiliar equipment always represents additional risk for your company and its risk partners.

• Be sure to have a comprehensive risk management program or plan in place to manage your risks and exposures, and to lessen your company’s exposure to risk. Take baby steps, before leaping any tall buildings.

Once the risks have been nailed down and a plan is in place to manage each risk, insurance can take over from there, bearing any of the risks which you cannot sustain.

2021 Insurance Saving Tip #28

Ensure vehicles and equipment are secured 100% of the time when they are parked or garaged or not in use.

Did you know one-third of stolen vehicles had the key or fob left inside?

Do you permit drivers to garage them at or near their homes?

Did you know nearly 40 percent of all cargo thefts occurred in parking lots or garages? (2017 FBI Report) Do your trailers have an anti-theft device, if dropped outside of a secure yard?

Does your yard have surveillance cameras including video and OCR or LPR?

Are drivers instructed where to park or never park: i.e., center turn lanes, ends of rows or congested areas in truck stops, blocking lanes, etc.?

Have you invested in adequate anti-theft and tracking devices?

Do you have a second tracking device hidden in the vehicle, including any trailers?

Do you have a parking/garaging policy guiding drivers?

These are a few of the best practices your insurance partner would like to know more about.

In summary:
• Give careful thought and consideration as to where vehicles are, 100% of the time they are parked, positioned, or garaged.
• Invest in anti-theft equipment and tracking devices.
• Security needs to be embedded in your safety culture.

2021 Insurance Saving Tip #29

Have an aggressive equipment replacement policy.

While some business owners can make valid arguments for keeping older equipment on their books, based on minimal usage and superior maintenance, the fact is, there are some serious trade offs to consider. No matter the type of equipment, be it for heavy-lifting or heavy hauling, newer models come with an array of safety devices.

• In many instances, older equipment cannot be successfully upgraded or retrofitted with this new safety technology.
• Even highly-maintained, older equipment can be prone to breakdowns and faults, and replacement parts can be scarce, directly affecting the bottom line.
• While there are always rare exceptions, valid business reasons to keep equipment on the books after 30 years or more, are as rare.

If you need to deploy older equipment:
• Do you have a rigorous inspection and PM program?
• Are all inspections & repairs fully documented?
• Is there a written service plan for each unit?
• Are any third-parties involved in the service process?
• When stored, is the equipment protected from the elements?

Having a great maintenance program is helpful. Having a great and fully documented maintenance program is always better. ■

Thank you for reading this.