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


  • 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.


    • 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. ■

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