Young drivers can be insured: TTSAO Panel

MISSISSAUGA, Ont. – The widely held belief that commercial drivers under the age of 25 cannot be insured is a myth, according to Lisa Arseneau of Staebler Insurance.

She was moderating an insurance panel at the Truck Training Schools Association of Ontario’s (TTSAO) annual conference.

“I can’t believe this is still being said and believed,” Arseneau said. “That you cannot hire anyone under the age of 25 because insurance won’t let you. That is a myth and has always been a myth.”

Panelists pointed out every insurer has different eligibility requirements, which are filed with and enforced by federal or provincial regulators. Arseneau urged fleets to ask more questions of their brokers or insurance providers, because some will insure young drivers that others will not.

“Every insurer has their own rules,” she said. “Ask harder questions of your broker, to your underwriter. Say, ‘Are you really sure?’ There are some people who live by that rule and have never asked.”

Todd MacGillivray of Northbridge Insurance noted insurers face “significant penalties” if they don’t adhere to the eligibility requirements they have filed with the government. However, Northbridge’s eligibility requirements are 17 pages long, and take many variables into account. Training schools also have a role, noted Arseneau, in working with students to find them a suitable job and employer once they obtain their licence.


Insurance challenges

Insurers on the panel acknowledged many challenges face the industry in the year ahead. MacGillivray said one of the biggest challenges is the size of the claims being filed against carriers continues to rise.

“Everybody sees the outrageous demands south of the border,” he said. “That environment is in Canada. It’s not coming to Canada, it’s in Canada. We are seeing demands that are completely outrageous.”

He cited a recent $55-million claim made against a carrier over a “small event.”

“That litigious environment is not a Toronto-specific thing, it’s a national issue,” he added.

Fluctuations in the value of the loonie relative to the U.S. dollar is another issue for the insurance industry, since premiums are collected in Canadian dollars but 60% of claims are paid out in U.S. funds.

“Managing that foreign exchange component is a big deal for us. Figuring out what it will cost to pay a claim in three years,” he said.

And just like in trucking, attracting talent to the insurance industry continues to be a challenge.

Don Williams of Aviva Canada agreed that rising claims costs is a major challenge for the industry. James McFarlane of broker Cowan Insurance Group, expressed concern that more insurers will exit the transport space due to rising costs and pressure on profit margins.

“As those claims continue to mount, insurance companies involved in the trucking industry are going to face a point where they have to determine what niche of the transport industry they really want to focus on,” he said. “There are risks that are higher than the norm when dealing with chemicals, logging and whatnot. We might see a change from insurers working in the transport industry in terms of what they want to insure.”

Arseneau said that’s already happening in some sectors, such as sand and gravel.

“It’s fair to say that could happen,” she said of insurers exiting certain segments. “What happens if everyone’s appetite changes? Where are chemical haulers going to get insurance? It’s a little daunting to know their appetite could shift and we may not have an insurance carrier that has an appetite for those risks.”

“Profitability hasn’t been the strongest suit for our organization in the transportation field the last 24 months or so,” MacGillivray acknowledged. “But we have good analytics, we’ve been doing this for 60-plus years, we understand this business, we’re part of this business, and we’re going to work with the trucking industry to solve this problem.”


Optimistic about MELT

All the insurance representatives on the panel were optimistic about the mandatory entry-level training (MELT) program Ontario implemented last year. But it’s too early to determine its effectiveness.

“The thing that is going to be important for the insurance industry is getting the statistics,” said McFarlane. “We have to track those metrics so informed decisions can be made later on. Is a new driver that came through MELT better than someone who has five years of experience? I think the next 12-18 months are going to be pretty interesting.”

Williams agreed that all eyes in insurance will be on the quality of drivers emerging from MELT programs.

“It will take a while before that filters through to where we start seeing a reduction in claims and accidents happening,” he said.

Williams also noted MELT is not going to solve all the industry’s problems.

“MELT is a step in the right direction,” he said. “It’s going to take a while for that to actually start to come to the forefront where insurance companies are noticing this and saying, this is starting to impact our results.”

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James Menzies is editor of Today's Trucking. He has been covering the Canadian trucking industry for more than 20 years and holds a CDL. Reach him at or follow him on Twitter at @JamesMenzies.

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  • How about we talk about the issue of Insurance companies industry wide not willing to insure a driver with under 3 years experience. As a small carrier it really limits our options for recruitment. For the limited amount of Insurance companies that insure the trucking industry, it is very frustrating.

  • We are not saying the insurance companies won’t insure young drivers, We as company owners are saying the insurance companies have such a high premium for young drivers small companies cannot afford to hire them. Insurance companies are the real cause of driver shortages. They have changed their policies so that even when a driver is twenty five, (or 40 for that matter) if they haven’t been able to find a driving job and get truck driving experience they are treated (premium wise) like an 18 year old driver. Who can afford to hire them? Furthermore regarding insurance companies…. have you ever heard of one going bankrupt?

  • The completion of MELT program and diploma (certificate) from the school is supposed to be counted as Two to three years experience. How insurance companies can disregard these two concrete factors on top of the G class driving experience?

  • Hi there,
    What do you say about the current situation where new drivers, younger than 3 years of experience, are not getting any response from the employers because insurance companies in Ontario are refusing them?

  • Currently experiencing exactly what they are talking about. Small company, two power units and 29 year old son recently completed the full PTDI course of 200 hours in class and on road training. Job waiting in the family business. Three weeks and nine or ten insurance companies have all refused coverage. Yesterday one of the largest brokers in Canada told me he will never be insurable without three years experience. We paid in excess of $8,000.00 to have him trained to join us and eventually assume the company but unless he quits and goes to a big self insured company for three years he is uninsurable. We could have him insured under Facility but for over $7,000.00 he travel within an 80 km radius 12 times a year. Absolutely no use to a company offering transportation solutions. If we need him to go further the rate goes to somewhere between $20 and $30,000.00 a year and that doesn’t insure the second truck in the fleet, that is a completely different policy and our son is not allowed to operate it. This going on right now in April 2019 and it needs to change.

  • Yes, something needs to change with this, it’s next to impossible to run a small business with these requirements. I’m trying every angle to get drivers insured on my policy, no luck yet but hoping I can find some way to do it that won’t bankrupt me.

  • My son approx. 11/2 ago graduated heavy equipment and as license, that cost him $18000. He has been working for a small company for 3/4 of a year. Recently the owner told him that he can not find an insurance company to insure him. My son is very discouraged and doubting the value of getting a trade in this field, as well as feeling that this was a waste of money. This is what he wants as a career, so what is he to do. Just wait till he is 25 ( he is 19 ), then he well be able to be insured, but still have no experience. Very much a tough situation for our young adults.

  • Hello. I’m a 20 year old that when to as and heavy equipment training approx. 2 years ago. Since the training which obtained an AZ license and 4 pcs. of heavy equipment tickets, I’ve had 2 jobs working for construction companies in Huntsville Ont. During that time the first job was strictly a labourer, then after a year tarted with a new company and things were great. I was driving dump truck and running equipment, which from other employees I received lots of positive comments on how well I was running equipment. I overheard my boss telling my foreman that I can not drive truck anymore as he can not find an insurance company to insure me. Maybe that’s his way of saying he doesn’t want to put the extra expense out. If new equipment operators are in high demand, maybe the reason for that is because of the high cost of insurance. In the meantime, I’m working as a labourer, without continuing to get experience, which most companies want 2-5 years. At this rate by the time I’m 25 (cheaper rate of insurance)I’ll still well not have any experience. Seems like a double edged sword scenario. I spent $18000 to get all my tickets and feel like it was a big waste of time and money. Something has to be legislated differently otherwise the need for skilled people we’ll continue to increase. I’m very concerned what our future has instore for us that actually want to work in this industry because this is what I want to do for a living. Please give me some insight into this delema. Thank You

  • My spouse and i used to work in a Team.
    She is Liscenced 7 years.After 4 years driving we had small children to take care.
    Wife stayed home for three years and now when i want to add her in the insurance i can not add her.
    As the insurance companies requires last three years of current driving .
    It is hard for small fleets to get the drivers highered if they have a gap in thier employment.
    Insurance companies should have a refresher program which helps the companies to higher drivers.

    • Shaq
      I am in the same situation like your wife have my commercial license over 15 years and took a break to raise our two girls and now I am having a hard time to get myself on our policy doing team with my husband due to the gap I have. Very frustrating to say the least I am treating like a new driver now and asked to go back to school for training really……….we pay them over the years tons of monies with no claims or incidents and that’s what we are getting back because dont have last 3 years continuity of insurance. Wised I had on my policy still all these years and never removed from the policy because look what happens now with all the insurance these days in Ontario at least……very frustrated.

  • Government helps companies subsidize foreign workers salaries. Why don’t they take that money instead and subsidize our young people coming out of driving schools.For example they can be subsidized a certain percent of their insurance cost for their first 2 years. Inevitably it would decrease per year of experience.This would make it easier for smaller companies to train, and retain drivers, and it would also make it easier for new drivers to get the experience they need.

    • Wow!! That is crazy!! There is much done for immigrants than there is for our own in Canada. Is this discrimination?
      I was ‘always’ told, as a child, charity begins at home first.

  • I, being a new AZ driver license holder, am having problem getting a job with truck companies as their insurance company’s requirement is at least one year verifiable experience. I did the training under MELT program recently from an accredited training school (Ten Four Trainers). Their proclamation was that we would get jobs with any company within first week of application. Now, I find that once the company accepted us and when they sent our Driver’s abstract and CVOR to insurance company, Insurance Company turned down as I am a new driver and they want at least ONE year verifiable experience. We are not getting jobs because of Insurance Companies now! What do I do?

  • Our, now 50 yr. old with a wife and three kids, son got his DZ license at a Barrie Truck Driving School several years ago. He drove a Brine Tanker for Carillion on Highway 60 for two years with no driving issues.
    We have a one tandem 3000g 2600 International 530 series truck. We have a one man, one truck business hauling sewage out of the Lake of Bays/ Limberlost/Oxtongue/Kawagama Lake areas.
    Our son drove, with his Dad beside him, for two years. His Dad had driven a Tandem truck hauling Sand and Gravel, in the same areas for over 30 years with no driving issues. Our Insurance Co., Wawanessa, sent us a letter stating our son was not, under any circumstances to drive this Tandem Tanker even with his Dad beside him,
    The only reason they would give us is that their underwriters’ stated that our son did not have enough driving experience with this type of truck.
    Wawanesa Ins.Co. had both our son and his Dad sign affidavits stating that under no circumstances would our son drive this Tandem. We have not been able, at this date and time, to find insurance to cover our son.