Ontario MPP questions truck insurance costs

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 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.

  • I just pass my road test last month after doing 6 weeks course at Transport Training Centres Canada (TTCC) in 2017 plus add extra many more hours of road training for near 4 years and found out I can’t find job anywhere no matter what because of insurance not allow it!!

    By the way I have TTCC certificated but I feel like it worthless because of stupid insurance companies block all truck companies from hires new drivers

    FYI: It would be nice if Doug Ford override the insurance rules because he want all people get jobs

  • Our son is 48 yrs of age .. married with three children — 19, 16 and 11 yrs of age. He took the truck driving course out of Barrie Ontario staying in Barrie throughout the week . We all live, approximately 80 minutes away, in Dorset Ontario.
    His Dad has driven off road for over 50 years working with his brother in road building which includes roads, basements, septic systems, aggorate delivery and spreading , tree clearing to name a few assorted jobs.
    Our son, for 3 – 4 yrs(?), drove for Ontario Sailing Club , driving a stretch panel van hauling a trailer with 10-12 windsurfing boards and equipment throughout Ontario, as scheduled, by the Ontario Sailing Club. His very first trip .. He picked up the truck and boards down at the Toronto Lakeshore Warehouse, gathering up and loading all equipment on his own, and headed out to London, I think it was, at about 2200 hrs.. to give windsurfing lessons in that next morning.

    Our son , graduated College, and became a paramed .. driving an ambulance. They would, need to drive with patient(s) in all sorts of differnt circumstances and road conditions rushing patients, at times, to differnt hospitals including to the down town Toronto City core.

    Our son drove , a couple of guys, down to Georgian College , one day a week, to attend
    different fire fighter courses. Was okay’d to drive fire trucks, including ambulance as first responder, fire pumpers and/or tankers… giving an emergency situation.

    He plowed highways for Carillion for at least two years but we are unable to locate the records as of yet. Carillion Contracting has, on the most part, gone back to England. With the MTO no longer fully staffed I find it difficult to find information on
    employee records. As Carillion is under fire with the MTO for thousands of dollars worth of, fines .. and supposedly, an impossible cotract to follow, I am certain that the MTO or Fowlers’ Construction will, hopefully, have copies of records.
    The snowplow & sanding employees will generally continue on with the next contracted company..

    My husbands’ business and truck are presently insured with Wawanesa .. after much running around and emailing back and forth with ‘New
    Underwriters’ it has been stated that this company will not insure our son and that he is not to drive out tandem tanker, If they, in fact, note that he is driving our tandem tanker our insurance will be nul and void!!

    I would like to know if it is okay’d, whatsoever, for our son in order to gather the experience he
    requires, to drive with his dad in the passenger seat and/or if you have any idea on who might possibly insure out business with our son driving.

    Thank You So Much
    We Look Forward To Your Response in this matter

    C.Jane MacKay

  • Hi there, we are running into a similar issue. My husband and I want to long haul. Bought a new truck. Paul has 30+ years driving, driver trainer, certified to teach (through OSL). I have 30 years with a BZ license driving both bus and flat bed. Plus we are both firefighters and have been driving the fire trucks for about 7 years. I have just upgraded to AZ recently and no insurance company wants to insure us. Someone with my husband’s experience with me all the time, plus our overall driving experience, doesn’t seem to matter. No one wants to insure us. This has been our dream for some time now to somewhat semi-retire. We have a brand new truck and can’t get insurance. It is so frustrating!