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R&R Insurance Blog

How to Avoid a Bad Driver's Impact on Your Business Auto Insurance

Posted by Dan Maurer

Despite record low unemployment, you finally hired one – a diamond in the ruff. After a 16 hour shift on-the-road, his only question at the end of the day was, “What’s next?”

Things are going so smoothly, but then a call from your insurance agent, “The insurance company is hammering me. That new driver you hired has a DUI. They’re asking you to put him in a non-driving capacity or they're going to reevaluate your insurance program.”

As an insurance agent with many accounts in Construction, I’ve had numerous bad driver scenarios like this. It’s a trend getting hit from two sides with good drivers hard to find in low unemployment labor pool and increasing auto rates from insurance carriers driving up costs. Thankfully, for commercial insureds, there are solutions to the problem – prevention and alternative insurance options.

Prevent the situation with a Fleet Safety Program. A doctor might tell you prevention is the best medicine and it goes the same with avoiding the hire of a driver with a bad record. Implementing a well thought out Fleet Safety Program will set the standard for your company and, more often than not, keep this problem at bay.

Screening company drivers is the first step to setting up a Fleet Safety Program. “Frequency breeds severity,” is a saying in the insurance industry. If a driver has a history of minor violations or near misses odds are, at some point, a major incident will occur.

The best tool at the disposal of a business owner to screen employees is a Motor Vehicle Record (MVR). MVR’s are obtained through the Public Abstract Request System (PARS) program with the Wisconsin DOT. Your company can create an account here and begin screening drivers once they sign a release. There is a cost associated with running records, but nothing overly expensive.

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Insurance carriers will want to be sure your drivers fall within a tolerable range of driving violations and accidents. Each company’s standards will be unique to them, but the above chart is an example of a standard the insurance carrier will expect a company to have. It's recommended you run MVR's on employees once a year, but if you join the PARS program it will notify you if a driver has a violation preventing the need to run MVR's arbitrarily every year.

A second step in implementing a Fleet Safety Program is to give safe driver training. There are a variety of ways to train drivers but the best training topic to explore is distracted driving because it's the number one reason insurance carriers are increasing auto rates. Another topic very useful for commercial drivers is Accident Investigation training. In the case of the companies I insure, we'll bring in experts to help train your drivers at no cost.

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Explore alternative insurance options if the employee is too valuable to let go. There will be a cost to your bottom line but in many situations it is preferable to eat the cost rather than let valuable employees go.

Opening a separate insurance policy for a driver is an option. There are some circumstances where insurance carriers will outright refuse to insure certain drivers. In these cases an insurance agent can go to market with a carrier such as Progressive for a one-off driver policy. Costly - but often the only acceptable option.

Some situations can be fixed by changing work arrangements around. One solution to keep an employee with a bad driving record is to change their role by partnering them up with an employee who is able to drive. In some situations your company will be able to have the employee drive his or her own vehicle. While not usually the ideal solutions for your company, it will often appease insurance carriers and keep your coverage in place.

Companies going through these situations often entertain thoughts that insurance carriers are being overly harsh or risk averse in threatening premium hikes or non-renewing their coverage. The truth is underwriters are facing a hardening market on auto rates. It might actually come as a shock to some businesses to know that your vehicles are the single largest exposure to your company and your insurance carrier.

Insurance carriers have been losing money on auto insurance for years. The reason is that workers’ compensation claims have state-mandated limits, while auto liability does not. Innocent people hit by commercial vehicles often bring legal action. The consequences of distracted driving combined with our increasingly litigious society is the main driver behind increasing rates.

Screening employees and having a formal Fleet Safety Program is the best way to avoid a 15% auto increase or non-renewal. That said, when a company is against the wall and needs to keep an employee on the solution is to explore opening an additional policy or change their working arrangement.

Additional fleet safety resources:

Topics: Fleet Safety

Can I Get a Discount on Insurance by Using GPS Trackers?

Posted by Bill Katzfey

GPS Tracker

 

We have seen an uptick in requests from business owners to add GPS tracking units to their fleet.  GPS tracking systems improve the odds of vehicle recovery from theft, encourages safe driving, and promote regularly scheduled vehicle maintenance.

But can they save money on insurance?  Yes.  Insurance companies are always assessing risks, so businesses with better driver records and a well maintained fleet could see decreases in their commercial auto insurance.  As an independent insurance agency, we have access to a variety of insurance companies which offer cost assistance.  For your individual situation, additional savings may apply - talk to your KnowledgeBroker about a custom savings plan for your organization.

Thinking of adding GPS trackers to your fleet?

We queried several clients and developed the list below.  While it is nowhere all-inclusive, it is a great place to start your search of looking for a GPS fleet provider.

Additional Fleet Safety Resources

Have questions if GPS trackers can help your business?  We can help: safety@rrins.com.

Topics: Fleet Safety

Fleet Safety | Can You Sustain a $24M Verdict?

Posted by Scott Shaver

iStock_000010641551_Large-1.jpgBack in 2012, Coca-Cola was hit with a $24 Million distracted driving judgment. The plaintiff’s attorneys were able to successfully argue that Coca Cola’s cell policy for drivers was "vague and ambiguous." They also suggested that Coca-Cola was aware of the dangers but withheld this information from its employee driver, which led directly to the circumstances that caused the accident. The jury awarded $14 million in actual damages and another $10 in punitive damages to a woman hit by a Coca-Cola truck driver who was chatting on her cell phone.

Do you have a robust “fleet policy” in place? Are your employees aware of your expectations while driving? Do you periodically provide training to your employees who drive for business, whether in your company vehicle or in their own personal vehicle? If you answered no to any of those questions, you are exposed to a similar Coca-Cola fate.

Having and enforcing a “fleet policy” with a clear expectation on cell phone usage is vital to protecting your employees, the general public, and your company assets.

If you would like to see a sample fleet policy, please click here. It’s just one of the many resources that we share with our clients at R&R as a way of creating value.

Contact me if you would like to learn more about increasing the profitability of your company by proactively controlling risk exposures.

Topics: distracted driving, Fleet Safety

Distracted Driving Causes 8,000 Accidents Every Single Day!

Posted by Bill Katzfey

Truck_AccidentAccording to the AAA Foundation, distracted driving causes about 8,000 accidents every single day! And the CDC reports that more than 15 people are killed and 1,200 injured every day in those accidents. Corporate fleets are not immune from those numbers. You expect your employees to multi-task all the time, but never expect that while they are behind the wheel.

There are three main types of distraction:

  1. Visual – taking your eyes off the road (i.e.: looking at a map or for a landmark or address if the driver is not sure where they are going before the trip)
  2. Manual - taking your hands off the wheel (i.e. reaching for the radio or two way radio while driving)
  3. Cognitive - taking your mind off what you are doing (paying more attention to work situations or the next job site)

Fleet drivers should have one goal and one goal only; operating their vehicle safely and efficiently from point A to point B.

While driving, there should be no other tasks, no other distractions, nothing is more important. R&R Insurance offers Distracted Driving window clings to remind your drivers and others on the road to stop the distraction. Wisconsin businesses, if you would like a sample of our Distracted Driving window clings, use our convenient order form and we will send you a sample - or a few - depending on your needs.

Fleet Safety Essentials – It’s About The Driver!

Top 9 Driving While Texting Infographics

For more information about fleet safety and property casualty insurance, contact knowledgebroker Bill Katzfey.

Topics: distracted driving, Fleet Safety, Fleet Safety Essentials, distracted driving window clings, distracted drivers, Business Insurance, stop distracted driving, Bill Katzfey, distracted driver policy

Safety Regulations: the High Cost of Non-Compliance

Posted by Brian Balongue

stack of cashIn 2011, DOT-regulated truck, bus and motor coach companies paid $30,674,218 in fines for failure to comply with Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs). The average fine per case was $5,050.

One of the most costly violations is the falsification of a driver log. In these cases, companies paid an average fine of $9,394. The next most costly violation was the transportation of hazardous materials without a properly prepared shipping paper. The average cost in those cases was $8,578.

According to Rob Moseley, head of the transportation department at Smith Moore Leatherwood, juries are relatively accepting of truck drivers who make mistakes. Moseley said in a recent interview, “Juries are much less forgiving when safety issues are ignored at the management level of the company.” Adding, “A trucking company gets to explain two problems or inconsistencies. After that, the jury doesn’t listen and will punish the trucking company.”

Additional costs to a non-compliant company:

  • Increased frequency of inspections and the additional violation fines identified during these inspections
  • More detailed inspections (e.g., more Level 1 inspections) and the associated violations identified
  • Impact on insurance rates
  • Loss of business due to poor CSA scores
  • Reduction in contracted rates for carriers with poor CSA scores

Being compliant means saving money. Contact me to discuss how to take proper actions to keep your company compliant.

Topics: Fleet Safety, Business Insurance

EOBRs: 4 Compliance Benefits

Posted by Brian Balongue

EOBRA mandate of electronic on-board recorders (EOBR) seems closer than ever. Many carriers are staying ahead of the curve by installing EOBRs today. Not only are they seeing operational efficiencies and improved fuel management, there are compliance benefits:

  1. Increase log accuracy
    - Typically a comparison of GPS to driver’s log needs to be completed. With an EOBR there is no need for the audit because it automatically ties vehicle movement to driving time
  2. Form & manner violations are virtually eliminated
    - EOBRs prompt the driver to enter data or it is filled automatically – thus eliminated math errors when calculating total hours for the day or leaving fields blank (among the top four violations in the CSA Fatigued Driving BASIC)
  3. EOBRs are present and current
    - Drivers with paper logs struggle to keep their logs up-to-date and keep them present if/when requested by an authorized party
  4. Real time duty status helps reduce violations
    - Dispatchers and drivers can monitor drivers’ hours-of-service real time thus avoiding situations where drivers may be forced to drive when they are out of hours

Contact me to discuss how your company can increase efficiencies with the use of EOBRs and as important, how EOBRs can keep you compliant, reduce fines, and affect your premiums.

Topics: Fleet Safety, Business Insurance

Great Partners Lead to Great Fleet Safety

Posted by Brian Balongue

safety firstWith the recent downturn in the economy, business focus has turned from safety to more “important” financial objectives. The truth of the matter is that poor safety initiatives could end up being the most costly part of the year for an organization. The associated costs of an ineffective and poor safety program, such as claims cost, insurance increases, loss of production, damaged equipment, potential loss of business, and market impact make it all the more important for organizations to invest in the value of safety. It is an investment in the most valuable assets you have: your people and your reputation.

A proactive approach to safety can result in a 52% reduction in incident rates over a several year period. Some ways to increase safety include identifying risky driving behaviors, defensive driver training, reinforcing driving skills, and an injury & illness prevention program for employees.

The first step to implementing a plan is to identify the correct partners. Education, equipment manufacturing and technology partners can provide resources to identify cause of incidents, educate skills, and develop processes to avoid incidents. Commitment starts with personal ownership, commitment by each employee, and reinforcement by managers.

As a R&R knowledge broker, I welcome the opportunity to discuss ways to work together in building a cost effective safety plan or enhance your current processes. Contact me to get started!

Topics: Fleet Safety, Business Insurance

How are SMS Scores used by Insurance Underwriters?

Posted by Brian Balongue

BASICs OverviewNot long ago, I can recall when it seemed like only the larger, national, insurance carriers specializing in trucking insurance would take into consideration SafeStat Scores in underwriting a trucking Risk. This included carriers like Great West, Northland, Lancer, Sentry, Carolina Casualty, Continental Western, etc. At the same time very few, if any of the underwriters working for the smaller regional carriers, at least in the Upper Midwest, knew where to look for this information let alone how to interpret it. When I speak of smaller regional carriers, I’m talking about companies like Acuity, Integrity, Secura, General Casualty, etc. From my standpoint as a trucking insurance agent, this was a good thing, the less they knew, the easier it was for me to place a piece business with them especially business that was marginal from a SafeStat standpoint but that may have had good loss experience. Well, those days are over thanks to the Central Analysis Bureau.

Now, every insurance carrier we access specializing in trucking insurance subscribes to what is termed a "CAB Submission Report" from the Central Analysis Bureau. To put it in a nutshell, this is a report available by subscription. They gather their information from all of the various FMCSA websites including SAFER, SMS, and Licensing and Insurance websites. They take that information and put it in a nice easy to read report focusing on key points for underwriting review. Even the novice trucking underwriter will pick up on problem areas. In addition to pointing out all of the relevant information, the underwriters can sign up for alerts and be made aware if there are any serious violations or changes in scores within a particular category of SMS scores. For the first time in my career, I have actually had companies cancel policies, not because of loss problems, but strictly because of a conditional ratings and SMS scores.

  1. How are the underwriters using this information? I asked some of my underwriters this same question and here are some of my responses:
    - As an initial screen of eligibility
    - To verify radius of operation and type of operation whether contract carrier, common, or broker
    - Type of commodities hauled
    - Prior insurance carrier information (do you shift your insurance frequently?) - also number of cancellations, etc
    - CSA rating
    - Out of Service - how often and why
    - Number of trucks and total mileage - is this trending up, down, or stable
    - Any hazmat indications and who are they shipping for? They will be looking for travel in higher population density areas.
  2. Pricing, higher CSA scores translate into higher rates; lower CSA scores translate into more favorable rates.
  3. Underwriters will use this report to see if there are any other operations that had authority at the same address. They're checking to see if there were any chameleon carriers operating under a different name. They will check the vehicles listed on the inspection reports with those submitted on the equipment list.

Insurance underwriters are now using this as one of the tools in their tool box. Some companies are even imposing specific scoring criteria. It’s more important now more than ever to be constantly trying to improve these scores. As Will Rogers said, “even if you’re on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there.” In these economic times, it’s more important than ever to partner with people who can dramatically affect your bottom line. This is done through knowledge, resources, and ingenuity. Contact me to discuss how we can work together to lower your risk and save you money.

Topics: Fleet Safety, Business Insurance

Help Prevent Distracted Driving For Corporate Drivers

Posted by Resource Center

RRI-DistDriv-Cling-CircleAs an independent insurance agency servicing thousands of fleets, and tens of thousands of families in Southeastern Wisconsin, we know first-hand how life can change in an instant. For 2013, we've put some muscle behind our campaign to help companies and families prevent distracted driving.

R&R Insurance Services has Distracted Driving window clings for corporate fleets wanting to take action and address the issue of distracted driving. Order your Distracted Driving window cling sample and help prevent distracted driving for corporate drivers.

Unfortunately, many accidents occur and lives are lost due to something that can be prevented - Distracted Driving! Let's stay focused behind the wheel and focused towards a common goal to prevent distracted driving.

Request your window cling sample today and help spread the word. We can work together to Stop The Distraction and Save A Life! Window cling samples can only be sent to Wisconsin companies.

Topics: Fleet Safety, Business Insurance

Eyes (and Mind) On The Road and Hands On The Wheel

Posted by the knowledge brokers

Anything that diverts your attention away from the main task of driving is a distraction. Basically, anything that takes your eyes/mind off the road or your hands off the wheel. This includes cell phone usage, eating, talking, listening to disruptive music, applying make-up, tending to children and navigation systems.

Not Just Texting – Any Cell Phone Usage Can be Deadly

Research has shown that the distraction caused by a phone conversation is the same for hands-free or hand-held cell phones. Even more distracting is the act of text messaging. Now illegal in most states (including Wisconsin), texting takes a driver’s eyes off the road an average of 4.6 seconds out of every 6 seconds. At 55 mph, this translates into 120 yards without looking at the road.

Manage Your Distractions

  • Recognize that driving requires your full attention.
  • Ask a passenger to place a call for you and, if possible, speak in your place.
  • Do not compose, send or read text messages while driving. In Wisconsin, texting while driving is illegal.
  • Ask passengers to help with directions or adjust dashboard controls.
  • Secure loose items in the vehicle so they don’t become projectiles or distractions in a sudden stop or crash.
  • Avoid intense, complicated or emotional conversations when driving.
  • Pull over to care for children.
  • Stop to eat or drink, rather than trying to eat or drink while driving.
  • Get plenty of rest.
  • Program your GPS prior to starting your trip.
  • Allow plenty of time for your trip.

R&R offers a free Stop The Distraction Campaign Kit for Wisconsin Schools and families in an effort to help prevent distracted driving. Contact us for your free kit if you are located in Wisconsin. 800-566-7007.

Topics: Fleet Safety, Personal Insurance, Schools, Business Insurance