While it’s not always easy to find qualified and tenured drivers, it is very important to make sure you are hiring drivers that have proven themselves to be responsible and safe. As you know, each driver has a Motor Vehicle Record (MVR) which acts as a “report card” for an individual’s driving history. Although MVRs are individual to each driver, they also act as a reflection for or against you as a business owner, and your company’s operational standards. Exhibiting a low standard in hiring drivers raises a red flag with the insurance carrier on just how serious you are about safety, and ultimately can result in higher premiums due to elevated accident frequency and large losses.
Low expectations of your drivers is not the message you want to broadcast. MVRs are not only reviewed by transportation brokers you may be contracted with, but by your insurance carrier and plaintiff attorneys as well. Whether you’re a new or veteran business, your driver criteria sets the bar. Take for example your insurance premiums. If you are new to the industry, you want to be able to show the insurance carriers that you are looking to hire only the best in class drivers. This will help prove to the underwriters that you are serious about your company’s operations, as well as the safety of your passengers. Providing clean and clear MVRs will give your insurance agent the ability to build the strongest presentation possible in order to provide you with competitive and affordable insurance premiums. You should also be aware, that while presenting an insurance underwriter with MVRs evidencing dangerous and careless driving isn’t in your best interests, it can be equally as damaging to present them with MVRs that show a prior suspension, past due child support, seat belt violations, etc. Infractions such those work against the driver as they evidence a lack of responsibility in the eyes of the underwriters. Not only could the carrier charge a higher premium, they could also chose to exclude those drivers labeled as “hazardous” from your policy, or the underwriter could decide to decline to provide your company with a quote all together. Below is a real life example of an incident that occurred due to unnecessary aggressive driving.
At approximately 7:00AM our insured driver was traveling east bound on a rural two lane highway, carrying a single 50 year old female passenger. According to the incident report, the insured driver maneuvered to pass a semi-truck, and while attempting, was forced to quickly change lanes due to oncoming traffic. As a result the vehicle clipped the left rear-end of the semi sending the insured’s vehicle into a spin and off the road. This driver, a 67 year old male, was cited for an “unsafe passing maneuver”. While there was minimal damage to the semi-truck, the insured’s van was a total loss, and the female passenger reported complaints of soft-tissue damage.
When reading the brief claim report above, you might think to yourself, “this isn’t too tragic of an incident”, however, after some time had passed, the insured’s passenger reported complaints and filed a claim for bulging discs, which eventually resulted in attorney representation, and ended in a bodily injury settlement at mediation for a sum of $230,000. This claim is a perfect example of why it so important to thoroughly review your drivers’ MVRs, monitor you drivers’ behavior, and most importantly, always stress that safety is your number one priority. The driver’s impatient attitude, not only cost the insurance carrier $230,000 in claim payments, and will without a doubt help to raise the insured’s future premiums on a go forward basis, but they almost killed someone. If the drivers MVR had any reported instance of aggressive driving, the plaintiff attorney could have attempted to file for punitive damages against the insured, a coverage which is excluded from just about all commercial auto policies.
In summary, your drivers are a direct representation of your company, not only from a physical and visual point of view, but from an accident and loss history perspective as well. Empower your drivers, let them know that they are not only the face of the company, they are also the largest contributing factor to the company’s continued success. Driver actions both good and bad, are significant factors in determining your insurance premiums. The lower you insurance costs, the more profitable your company, and vice versa. Inform your drivers that their performance as a collective group determines their earnings, and keeping premiums down allows for bonuses and/or raises.