Inconsistencies in insurance policies are maddening

by Bill Cameron

Insurance is on every small trucking company’s list of top three aggravations for several reasons, cost being the biggest. Assume you’ve had no claims for a few years.

Think of the premiums spent: hundreds of thousands of dollars for just a few trucks, not a nickel of which you’ll ever see again. What if we could set it up like life insurance? Don’t use it, and you can cash it in later. Put that idea right up there with a fiscally responsible government on the fantasy shelf.

Like any service provider, the cheapest option should obviously always be avoided. I once made the mistake of switching from a thorough, knowledgeable broker, to one located closer to us, who came highly recommended.

He was reportedly very good at his job. His nephew, who handled our account – apparently his first job after his fast-food career – wasn’t nearly as good as the broker we left. We experienced constantly changing driver qualification standards, rejections of almost every good driver I tried to hire, and he needed frequent reminders of which forms we were supposed to be given. All this guaranteed that we didn’t have a long working relationship.

Our longest-serving insurance broker is the kind to search out. They handle trucking insurance, period, and have knowledge of the industry that others only wish they had. This broker, if you can fathom this level of diligence, even included a clause to cover cargo damage caused specifically by tarp damage occurring in transit.

I’d have never dreamt that was even available. They even have the patience to frequently answer stupid questions.

After you’ve spent enough years in business to be noticed, you’ll be approached by your local household insurance broker. The person who sold you home, car, or life insurance is rarely the same person to trust your truck insurance to.

Typically, they have no clue about our industry. Pay close attention to the questions they ask, and you’ll figure that out quickly. There are too many ways your company will be dangerously unprotected if your insurance broker isn’t knee-deep in our industry. Ask them some truck-specific questions, and when they can’t answer, be wise enough to move on.

The part of the insurance game that infuriates me is the obvious double standard that exists between small and large sized fleets. I’ve joked that the only driver acceptable for a small carrier policy is a former driving instructor, while large companies can hire almost anybody.

If you question this double standard, the phrase “risk management” will be used as justification. I prefer to call it “profit management.”

It’s obviously good business to give priority treatment to the trucking company insuring 500 trucks, rather than only five; I just can’t find an insurer courageous enough to admit it. Apparently, a driver with minimal experience – or demerit points – is a safe driver at a large carrier, but totally unacceptable at my company.

Can anybody explain that one to me? If I only have a few trucks, and am familiar with every component on all of them, I’m not putting a driver in one unless I have full confidence in them. Someone with lesser experience is a lot easier for a small outfit to monitor than at a big company, where it’s easy to be just a number on a roster.

Our first insurer taught me to question everything any insurer tells me. Initially, they were very obliging, until the policy was in place, after which nearly every driver was unsatisfactory. I tried to insure a good driver, with 10 years’ experience, who hadn’t driven for three years.

They wouldn’t allow it, without a refresher course. Coincidentally, the insurance company had a driving school. Angry, I sent my full stack of resumes, to show what level of talent was available. They asked why I didn’t hire the driver who’d attended their school. Easy answer: he couldn’t drive. Despite my evaluation, since he’d been to their school they were willing to insure him immediately.

Insurance a top three aggravation? Maybe the top.


Bill Cameron and his wife Nancy own and operate Parks Transportation. Bill can be reached at

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