Waste haulers face insurance coverage woes amid driver scarcity

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According to Matt Andrews, associate managing director of Amwin’s Program Underwriters in Camp Hill, PA, the lack of drives is not only causing problems for the waste haulage industry from an operational perspective, but also from an underwriting perspective.

“Garbage shippers are under pressure to hire drivers to keep their fleets running, and with the current driver shortage, they may be tempted to hire someone they would normally not consider – and that is what insurers will do when drawing the driver pool” said Andrews. “This is where we as underwriters need to be more creative in figuring out how to insure an account if they have to change their hiring practices to address the driver shortage.

“Typically we want to see drivers with a certain number of years of driving experience and a clean vehicle history. If an operator hires a driver who is 21 years old and only has a year of commercial driving experience, we would normally be suspicious, but we may be willing to make an exception if he’s generally a strong bank on a good one Place, have a thorough driver training and onboarding program, solid risk management practices, and have a large loss history. “

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Amwin’s Program Underwriters offers one of the few insurance programs that focuses solely on the waste transportation industry. It is drawn by a team with over 25 years of experience who have successfully mastered the ups and downs of the commercial automotive market through bespoke underwriting, loss prevention, claims management solutions, and most importantly, by building and maintaining long-term relationships with freight forwarders, sales agents and waste handlers.

Over the past few years, as the driver shortage has worsened, Andrews has seen waste handler operators adopt various strategies to address staffing issues. He said he saw many drivers develop robust driver training and supervision programs to help younger and less experienced drivers through their learning phase. Some operators also have a trial period where new drivers are supervised by a more experienced colleague until they gain enough credibility to drive on their own.

“We have also seen operators use telematics solutions and other things like cabin cameras and GPS tracking in their vehicles so they can more proactively monitor their drivers,” added Andrews. “If bad behavior is shown based on the data collected, operators can take corrective action as quickly as possible and use this data as a teaching opportunity to bring drivers back up to higher standards from a safety perspective.”

Telematics enables companies to collect data on vehicle location, driver behavior, and real-time engine diagnostics, which in turn may help them lower their insurance premiums by minimizing risk and promoting safer driving. Insurance companies are encouraging fleet operators to look into telematics, especially when they had to take more risks to stay operational in the face of driver shortages. In these cases, insurers may need telematics before extending a policy or offering new business.

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Telematics solutions and in-cab cameras can not only mitigate the risks associated with inexperienced drivers, but also help garbage shippers and other commercial automotive companies solve another big problem: distracted driving.

Andrews commented, “One thing we are adamant on is if a driver has previous cell phone violations it is a big red flag. We want to make sure that our policyholders have strict guidelines that state that their drivers do not remove their cell phones or that they are threatened with dismissal while operating a vehicle. Distracted driving is a big problem. It is not only reserved for waste shippers, we must all do our part to prevent this. “

Distracted driving is just one of the issues that plaintiffs’ attorneys are eager to pounce on. According to Andrews, they also focus on vehicle maintenance, driver data, and any information collected by the Central Analysis Bureau (CAB) – which converts Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) data into actionable information – to portray commercial fleet operators as negligent in disputed claims. This has resulted in a significant increase in the frequency and severity of commercial auto damage, which in turn has impacted the longevity of many insurance programs for bike-based accounts, including waste transport companies.

“We all play in the same sandbox when it comes to the claims environment,” Andrews told Insurance Business. “The commercial auto industry has generally been tough over the past few years as we have struggled with the effects of social inflation and nuclear jury trends. There was a recent lawsuit in which the plaintiff’s attorney focused on a vehicle inspection with a violation when the account was actually better than average from an industry perspective. The attorney tried to do that one inspection enough to portray the entire account as a terrible operator.

“That’s another thing that comes into play with the driver shortage. When you have someone who poses a borderline risk, want to roll the dice and get them on the road? If they are in an accident, the plaintiff’s attorneys will say, “Oh, this person has a history of speeding. That is a loss of boundaries. We want a million dollars. ‘ These are the things that you need to consider when dealing with the commercial automotive sector. “

To learn more about the Amwins Underwriters Wastehaulers Program, click here.

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