Like most other things, commercial trucking and its corresponding insurance requirements have undergone many changes in the past few years. From new enforcement initiatives to rate fluctuations to changing technology, nothing stays exactly the same from year to year – even month to month.
Among the most impactful changes is the enforcement of federal driving-time rules which mandates no more than 11 hours of driving during a 14-hour period, followed by at least 10 hours off duty. This is an insurance issue since, of course, tired drivers are more likely to cause accidents and, therefore, insurance claims.
One offshoot of the enforcement crackdown is a new federal rule mandating electronic logging devices to track driving time. This requirement has had some major effects on trucking, not the least of which has been a loss of efficiency, according to an article in Trucks magazine.
The article quotes statistics from freight-tracker DAT Solutions, which found that 67.3% of truckers responding to a survey are driving fewer miles – and 71% are earning less money in a given time period. Traffic slowdowns, delays at docks and parking problems all can eat into those 11 hours of allowable driving time. Some one-day trips can turn into two days.
With 32.7% of truckers stating that their carrier’s loads are detained for more than two hours, that becomes even more of an issue.
And truckers had better use their electronic logging device, or it’s going to cost them on the insurance front. A driver’s safety record is based on their CSA (Compliance, Safety, Accountability) score, and if they’re caught not using their logging devices, they’ll receive a violation. That violation hurts their CSA score and can drive up their insurance premium – not good for the bottom line.
Even more safety-technology requirements may be on the horizon. The National Transportation Safety Board has repeatedly asked the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to require collision-avoidance technology. But the NHTSA has not acted, despite an increasing number of fatal truck accidents, the Kansas City Star reported.
“The silver bullet out there right now is automatic emergency braking,” said Jeff Burns, a Kansas City lawyer, told the Star.
The NHTSA responded that it has researched early automatic braking systems and hopes to finish testing sometime in 2020. It will then decide on next steps.
Meanwhile, in the trucking insurance industry itself, rising premium rates have caused several insurance carriers, such as Lexington, Zurich, ProSight Specialty and Westfield, to stop writing trucking policies altogether or undertake only lower-risk paper.
But trucking companies that do not have loss, driver or compliance issues aren’t suffering due to the availability of custom insurance solutions. It’s just important to note that “the trucking market requires a broker who can direct clients through the maze of options and obstacles,” per a recent article in Insurance Journal. By working with an insurance company with deep expertise in commercial trucking insurance like MIG, owner-operators and carriers alike can rest easy knowing the right solution is in place to meet specific situations and changing circumstances.
Lastly, one of the biggest changes in insurance requirements has yet to happen – the Unified Registration System (URS), which is a new electronic on-line registration system designed to streamline and simplify the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) registration process. When first enacted, the FMCSA required all first-time applicants to file their proof of insurance and other documents within the system beginning December 12, 2015. Existing carriers and other entities were given until January 14, 2017 to go online.
Each deadline has come and gone.
That’s because the FMCSA suspended the rule indefinitely given it wasn’t even published in the Federal Register until January 17, 2017. The suspension has yet to be lifted as of mid-October 2018, and there seems to be little or no movement toward setting a new deadline for URS usage.
We are keeping a close eye on URS status and will provide updates as available.