Ontario MPP questions truck insurance costs

John G Smith

TORONTO, Ont. – An Ontario MPP is questioning the insurance premiums that small businesses and owner-operators are forced to pay if they want to hire truck drivers with limited experience behind the wheel.

New drivers are often left to begin their careers at larger fleets with established training programs and lower insurance costs, or find smaller employers willing to work with Facility Association – essentially an insurer of last resort.

The resulting premiums can be five times the price paid to cover other drivers, says Guy Bourgouin, MPP for Mushkegowuk – James Bay and NDP critic for training, trades and apprenticeships.

“The current insurance regulatory framework is killing these small businesses,” he said in the Ontario Legislature on Sept. 24.

“There are extreme situations like Peter LaRocque, in the riding of Timiskaming-Cochrane, who cannot hire his own 30-year-old son, even if he has completed the provincially mandated training, received 200 hours in-class and on-road training, and has operated a tractor-trailer for more than two years.”

Cost-prohibitive premiums

LaRocque, owner of JPL Storage, has been campaigning to change the rules since 2018.

His son, Clyde Earl, is preparing to take over the family’s portable storage business that uses two tractors to deliver containers to driveways and construction sites. But insurance premiums have been cost-prohibitive – despite driver training through a course that went well beyond the 103.5-hour baseline established under the province’s Mandatory Entry-Level Training (MELT) regime.

JPL Storage has just received the related $6,600 bill for Facility Insurance so his son can drive a 2010 International tractor without direct supervision.

The annual premium is about the same as the trade-in value for the truck itself, LaRocque says, and with the exception of 12 trips per year it restricts most work to a radius of 90 km.

“Our major market is 100 km away,” he adds. “Legally we cannot send him to Kirkland Lake himself.”

JPL Storage’s overall insurance bill essentially doubled to almost $13,000 after removing one truck and trailer off its traditional insurer and shifting it to Facility Association.

But now there’s no choice. Business has been booming, expanding almost 300% in the last year, and both trucks need to roll.

An unfair advantage

LaRocque says today’s insurance regime gives larger fleets an unfair advantage over small operations, and he questions whether the larger operations always offer better training and mentoring than a small family business.

“Don’t tell me someone is running three years with this driver,” he says of the larger fleet experience. “I’m in the truck with him and it’s my truck. I’m paying for it and I’m making sure he doesn’t make a mess of things.”

“Some of these insurance costs are crazy,” Bourgouin told Today’s Trucking, referring to one business that saw insurance premiums increase 30% last year and 10% this year. “The regulations and insurance make it very difficult for these smaller owner-ops to be able to continue.”

He believes the current approach to insurance is particularly unfair in remote settings such as logging operations where there are no larger fleets to do the work.

“Driving a truck in a bush and driving a truck on the highway are two different things,” he adds. “Some of these drivers have huge experience, and they could benefit the young truck driver coming up.”

Bourgouin has already spoken to the ministers of transportation and natural resources, and corresponded with the finance minister. Now he’s exploring the option of a private member’s bill.

The governing Conservatives say they support small businesses, he says. Supporting such a bill would give them a chance to prove it.

John G Smith

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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  • We need to have some type of government insurance for truck drivers buses and wheelchair taxi owners in Ontario. Over 10,000 trucks in Ontario have left in the past 15 months in Ontario. If we solve the insurance problems for New truck and taxi and new school bus drivers in Ontario along with minimum wage rates after 2 years experience the bus and truck driver shortage would be minimal. We need the government to pay for the portion of truck insurance above $1,000 per month for new truck drivers to a maximum of $20,000 per month per trucking or bus company. The O T A needs to push for government assistance for plate and insurance costs until coronavoius is under control.

  • Larger fleets are getting hit just as hard ,if not harder with strict guidelines to follow. I can’t even hire anyone that hasn’t been insured for three years and a lot of these potential drivers think they are insured till you contact their employers and find out it was too much to insure them so they had them driving uninsured. I only have two insurance companies that will insure logging trucks The rates are ridiculous , and once you do gather everything that they require it takes up to two to three weeks for them to even come back with a answer By that time the driver has moved on. And we either put up with it or
    close the doors. There is no options for us

  • This is all absolutely correct!! They want businesses to develop and create more work and the new drivers don’t want to work for these big companies due to they start at the bottom and that means long haul and away from home to long!!
    These smaller companies will take the time and train people more so as there is a vested interest not like the larger fleets!!
    I’ve had to turn lots down as they don’t have the 3 years insurable experience.

  • I sell equipment and I will honestly say I have seen more trucking companies leave this province due to insurance then I have seen new ones start up. Our open for business Premier has let the insurance industry put a hard cap on any new start up trucking companies.

  • This is a very important message especially like me paying for 5 trucks $72,000.00 a year
    been in this industry for the past 17 years and this Insurance premium is pushing me to be a welfare

  • New drivers are in the news hourly across Canada. Rollovers, head-on collision, falling asleep, and distracted driving.

    That’s what the premium reflects.

  • The larger fleets are the problem with all of the accidents and insurance cost. But it doesn’t hurt them as much because they are self insured. And the larger fleets are able to bury traffic violations and safety infractions within their large fleet numbers, where as a small fleet gets an infraction and it is very costly. It is very unfair the way it is done, it is setup for the large companies to flourish even though they are the main cause for the poor driver training and accidents.

  • The laws need to be tougher I have been an AZ driver for 20 year now days we have drivers out on the road that don’t even know how to fuel there own trucks a lot needs to come in to play before a driver is able to drive I insurance company are mostly tried of paying big pay out when being sued and the pay out does even need to be paid out as the driver that cause the accident has no experience or was trained right

  • I agree with the MPP that something must be done about high insurance premiums. With my wife and I, we have a small family business of which we have and still now, paying very high premiums just to enter our sons into trucking, because other businesses will not hire them anyway. They both have done the mandatory training and still insurance companies s ask for more.