Truck fleets face a great deal of risk. It starts with the potential for bodily injury and property damage to the general public. The government requires a fleet to provide certain levels of coverage depending on the fleet’s authority. For example a haz mat carrier needs to maintain a total of $5 million of public liability coverage, while a fleet delivering general freight may only need $750,000. Then a fleet owner faces physical damage related to the vehicle itself. Every fleet should have comp and collision coverage.
Fleets have the option of going through an insurance company to cover their risks, self-insuring or some combination of both. However, if you choose to self-insure, you need to demonstrate that you have the financial wherewithal to cover a loss.
In addition to the equipment, fleets have risks related to their drivers and the potential for workers’ compensation claims.
And the last common risk involves what’s inside the trailer. If you loose a load, you have to make someone whole for the loss and there are regulations governing the cargo as well.
But monetary risks are not the only risks a fleet faces. Equally as critical is damage to your reputation if one (or more) of your trucks is involved in an accident, especially if that accident garners media attention. Fleets also risk damaging their CSA scores which could impact their ability to gain new business and acquire the requisite insurance coverage on a cost-effective basis.
While insurance is a way for a fleet to protect itself from loss, there are things they can do to try to mitigate the risks they face:
- Make a commitment to safety — This is priority Number One if a fleet is to reduce its risks. Safety culture starts at the top and should infiltrate every area of the fleet operation.
- Spec vehicles properly — From telematics devices to forward looking cameras, and from lane departure warning systems to collision mitigation systems, there is technology a fleet manager can spec on vehicles to lessen the chance of an accident or decrease the severity of an accident should it occur. All are worth the investment.
- Maintain vehicles properly — Make sure drivers are performing their pre- and post-trip inspections and filing their DVIRs and make sure technicians perform safety inspections each and every time a truck is in for service.
- Properly train drivers — Make sure drivers get safe driving training when they first join the fleet, but also share safe driving tips with them on a regular and on-going basis.
From a risk perspective, trucking is a high risk business, and if you want to be best in class you will have to take steps to not only insure against those risks, but to have a program in place that helps you monitor activity to help mitigate those risks.