NDP member calls for truck insurance relief

An NDP member of Ontario’s provincial legislature has introduced a broad-reaching motion that calls on steps to help owner-operators with surging insurance costs and an underlying driver shortage.

“[Premier] Doug Ford needs to act now to help truckers, some of who are paying over $15,000 a year in insurance costs, and are unable to secure new drivers because of insurance policies that favor the largest truck corporations in the province,” said NDP MPP Guy Bourgouin (Mushkegowuk-James Bay). “How much more does Doug Ford think that small trucking businesses can take?”

truck insurance protests
Toronto-area aggregate haulers have held a series of protests against rising insurance costs, among other measures. (File photo: Ontario Aggregate Trucking Association)

Bourgouin’s motion would require fleets to provide drivers with a letter of experience on request, to review existing underwriting rules and risk classifications that affect owner-operators, and re-evaluate truck driver training standards and costs.

Ontario was the first province to introduce mandatory entry-level training programs, which require 103.5 hours of core training, and another 8.5 hours of training for an air brake endorsement, before testing for a Class A/Z licence.

Support from truckers

In a related press release, several individual truck operators showed their support for the proposed measures.

“While I have an extensive experience driving roll-off trucks, it was disheartening to remain unemployed because I was unable to obtain a letter of experience. This cost me years of income, worrying and suffering. I had even thought of leaving the province to find employment elsewhere,” said Angela Price, a truck driver based in Kawartha Lakes, Ont.

“For years I was unable to hire my 30-year-old son to join my small portable storage in Northern Ontario due to existing arbitrary underwriting rules and cost-prohibitive insurance premiums that largely affect small businesses like mine,” said Peter Larocque of JPL Storage in Haleybury, Ont.

“In 2020, had I opted to insure my son in my small family trucking business, our insurance premium would have increased by 250%. It simply doesn’t make any sense.”

LaRocque, whose portable storage business uses two trucks to deliver containers to driveways and construction sites, has been campaigning to change the rules since 2018.

He isn’t the only owner-operator to complain about rising insurance costs..

“I have been in the trucking industry since 1987 and I have never seen anything like this. I have an impeccable record yet, in 2018, the cost to insure my truck increased by 132%. To add insult to injury, I cannot afford employing my son. While he completed the costly mandatory entry-level training (MELT), I would have to pay a $14,000 to $30,000 premium every year to insure him,” said Claude Laflamme, an owner-operator in Hearst, Ont.

John G. Smith is the editorial director of Newcom Media's trucking and supply chain publications -- including Today's Trucking, trucknews.com, TruckTech, Transport Routier, Inside Logistics, Solid Waste & Recycling, and Road Today. The award-winning journalist has covered the trucking industry since 1995.

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  • This badly needed all fleets should be able to insure new truck drivers for $1000 per month for liability and personal injury and cargo at $200 per month for $220,000 coverage. In return these fleets should pay by the hour at a fair rate with overtime after 10 hours per day. Also min rate for each owner op at $53.00 per hour plus fuel and tolls. One cent per liter should go go into a special fund. Fair wages better treatment of injured truck drivers and affordable insurance and affordable housing and the truck driver shortage will be gone from in 6 months.

  • Where and how do you get an airbrake “Z” endorsement in Ontario only having completed 8.5 hours of training? Asking for a friend.