Let’s talk insurance: The facts about hiring young drivers

by Silvy Wright

You have an eager, newly licensed driver looking for a job. However, you think twice about hiring this young individual. Perhaps his or her age and lack of experience mean a steep increase in your insurance premiums. Maybe your insurer won’t even consider this new driver to be eligible for insurance coverage.

What do you tell this enthusiastic new driver? It seems that young drivers are being turned away by carriers due to false assumptions and a lack of awareness regarding the facts of insurance and driver training trends. I hope this article will put some of these myths to rest.

Myth: Trucking insurers don’t insure drivers under the age of 25.

Fact: An increasing number of insurance companies have no such restrictions. Until recently, age was one of many criteria for insurance eligibility. But this is changing quickly.

Progressive insurers, with the help of insurance regulators, are making it easier for new drivers to qualify for insurance coverage. In particular, the provinces are amending insurance regulations to remove barriers to younger commercial drivers as part of an effort to ease the current driver shortage.

At Markel, we impose no age restrictions for insurance eligibility, although we do require qualifying accredited training for new entrant drivers. We insure drivers at any age, as long as they are qualified under the law to drive in each jurisdiction required by their employment. This policy assumes that as a new driver they meet minimum age requirements for obtaining a commercial licence and qualify for all necessary work entitlement status.

Like you, we check their driving record to ensure they have an acceptable record within the past three years: no criminal code-type convictions or citations; no more than two major code-type convictions or citations; and no more than three convictions or citations in total.

Myth: Without driving experience, the insurance premium for a young driver can be cost-prohibitive.

Fact: A new driver’s training plays a huge role in the pricing of that driver’s insurance.

Many insurance companies require driving experience as an eligibility requirement. However, in lieu of practical experience, some insurance companies accept evidence of a driver’s successful completion of qualifying accredited training as equivalent for insurance eligibility.

How is “qualifying accredited training” defined? Two widely-accepted accreditations include the Canadian Trucking Human Resources Council (CTHRC) Earning Your Wheels training program (provided by a CTHRC-accredited training facility), and a certified Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI) training course.

Are other accreditations accepted? It depends on the organization granting the accreditation. Currently, no nationally-regulated standard exists for driver training. Sadly, many truck training facilities offer incomplete training, unqualified trainers and out-of-date equipment. Accredited facilities – and their students – benefit from high standards and professional course development.

Provincial and federal governments are cooperating at an unprecedented level with trucking associations, driver training facilities, community colleges and other organizations to establish a driver training standard and to legitimize commercial truck driving as a regulated skilled profession with mandatory education and training requirements. This effort has fuelled the introduction of provincial apprenticeship and internship programs.

At Markel, we go even farther: Graduation from approved training can translate into safe driving discounts for newly-licensed drivers in general freight hauling situations. For a small fleet running longhaul, these immediate and sustainable insurance savings can virtually cover the costs of the training.

Myth: A young truck driver’s Canadian licence is accepted all over North America.

Fact: The minimum driving age for interstate carriers operating in the US is 21, which restricts Canadian commercial drivers under this age from operating in the US. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) requires a minimum age of 21 for all commercial drivers operating interstate vehicles. This automatically restricts Canadian drivers under the age of 21 from operating in the US, even if these young drivers meet minimum age standards in Canada, which is 18 years for most provinces. Violating this FMCSA standard effectively renders your insurance coverage “null and void” in case of an accident where such a driver was operating the vehicle. It also subjects you to possible fines, sanctions or loss of your operating authority.

Myth: For young drivers, insurance eligibility is primarily about age.

Fact: The real issues have little to do with age.

From Markel’s point of view, your approach to hiring young drivers should not differ dramatically from your strategies to hire more experienced drivers. It all comes down to how effectively you recruit, orient, train and provide long-term support to enable your drivers – at any age – to maintain a safe driving career. Carriers who do this well can reduce operating costs and improve customer satisfaction. As we advocate regularly in this column, Markel recommends that you talk to your insurance broker and insurance company about your recruitment strategies. You should expect your insurer to discuss how it underwrites and rates your new recruits – and help you separate myth from fact.

(Visit www.markel.ca/letstalk to download or order Let’s Talk Driver Eligibility for Insurance Coverage, a guide outlining specific criteria used by Markel to establish eligibility for insurance).

Markel Insurance Company of Canada is the country’s largest trucking insurer providing more than 50 years of continuous service to the transportation industry. Silvy Wright is president and CEO of Markel.

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