Over the past decade, the legal landscape for trucking companies has been rattled. The phenomenon of “nuclear verdicts” — colossal jury awards, often exceeding $10 million, are reshaping the dynamics of litigation. These mammoth decisions impact both plaintiffs and defendants. They place a particularly heavy burden on trucking companies that are facing rising costs across
Rising Costs and Risks for Trucking Companies
Today, trucking companies are doing everything they can to prevent so-called “nuclear verdicts” in personal injury cases. New technologies that ensure safe driving practices and expert legal representation can help hold back that particular kind of cost. But they also face rising insurance premiums, which have increased dramatically over the last ten years. The relentless rise in insurance premiums has been a major cause for concern for trucking industry professionals.
While the steady climb in prices has been a dominant trend in recent years, industry experts are cautiously optimistic that we might be witnessing the beginnings of a shift.
“It seems as though the market may be starting to soften, as we have seen smaller average renewal increases in 2022 and early 2023,” notes Chris Gulker, senior vice president of transportation for TrueNorth. He adds that well-run companies investing in safety and technology with a solid loss history are beginning to see more favorable trends. These companies are experiencing small single-digit increases, flat renewals, and, in some cases, even small decreases.
Technological Solutions According to Industry Professionals
To combat the uncertain future of rising insurance premiums, trucking companies are increasingly turning to technology as their ally. Telematics, cameras, and artificial intelligence are being deployed to mitigate risk and, in turn, reduce insurance premiums:
- Stephanie Forster, principal strategic business developer for Omnitracs, says that some insurers are now subsidizing telematics devices and other in-cab AI or video safety systems. Others are making them a requirement. More insurers are also incorporating data from video safety solutions and telematics into their risk models to improve underwriting accuracy.
- Luke Wachtel, senior vice president of transportation and logistics for Platform Science, emphasizes that navigation technology isn’t just about providing a safer route; it also offers real-time driving alerts and warnings to drivers. He notes that some insurance companies offer lower premiums to fleets that can demonstrate safe driving practices through telematics data.
- Bill Zenk, executive vice president of risk and workforce solutions for TrueNorth, points out that the best companies are harnessing the power of AI in tandem with human interaction. By analyzing various data streams, these tools help identify a motor carrier’s vulnerabilities, allowing proactive measures to minimize threats.
These and more industry perspectives on insurance premiums from Transport Topics: Have Trucking Insurance Premiums Peaked?
Insurance Companies Get Familiar
Historically, insurers haven’t always understood the equipment carriers use and how they monitor it. However, there is a shift towards better segmentation and understanding. The conventional approach has been to wait and see how technology adoption plays out before offering discounts. Now, there’s a push to segment the trucking market more effectively. Top-tier trucking companies that invest in safety technologies can receive discounts on their premiums.
Ian White, CEO of Koffie, wants to proactively identify safety technologies’ benefits and factor them into pricing immediately. Koffie offers a dividend program that provides fleets with up to 10% back on their renewal based on their loss ratio from the prior year.
More Costs Hitting Trucking Companies
However, insurance premiums are not the only costs putting pressure on trucking companies. Rising prices for parts, labor, and new vehicle technologies are compounding the challenges.
Gary Flaherty, chief insurance officer for OpenEyes, underscores the impact of various factors, “Social inflation, medical costs and truck replacement costs and repair rates all continue to put pressure on insurance rates as they all experience increases that are driving loss costs and severity.”
Furthermore, delays in obtaining original equipment manufacturer (OEM) parts have created a significant demand for used parts, leading to price hikes and increased storage costs. This, in turn, has resulted in more vehicles being totaled due to the exorbitant costs of repair. Even mild collisions involving modern vehicles equipped with cameras, sensors, and radars can result in costly repairs.
Strong Legal Defense Mitigates Court Costs
While nuclear verdicts remain a concern, the cost of small claims is also on the rise. Having a strong defense is crucial. Navigating the complex world of trucking insurance and transportation law requires expert guidance. With the ever-evolving landscape of technology, regulations, and claims, having experienced attorneys on your side is crucial. They can help trucking companies effectively mitigate insurance issues and navigate legal challenges.
Small claims have doubled in cost over the last three years. Underwriters are scrutinizing claim frequency and costs more closely. Quick access to video evidence through telematics systems can significantly impact the outcome of claims. It can change how a report is written and provide a strong defense in court.
Jacques DeLarochelliere, CEO and co-founder of Isaac Instruments, says in most cases, professional drivers are not at fault but often get accused. Equipping trucks with cameras, sensors, and telemetry helps in establishing the facts. This can lead to more favorable outcomes in court, and even if the driver is at fault, it expedites settlements, saving on legal and defense costs.
Have a Plan to Control Your Potential Costs
While insurance premiums in the trucking industry have seen consistent increases in recent years, there is hope for trucking companies. The importance of expert legal representation in the trucking and transportation industry cannot be overstated.
Trucking companies facing insurance challenges and legal complexities should reach out to Hughes Lawyers, LLC. Our team of experienced attorneys specializes in trucking and transportation law and can provide the expert representation you need. Don’t navigate these challenges alone; let us be your legal partner in this ever-changing landscape. Contact us today to tell us about your case.