Truckers question insurance, HR mix

TORONTO, (Feb. 9, 2004) — The insurance industry’s intervention in trucking operations has always been hotly debated. Now some carriers say there are cases where they’re being told they can’t hire certain drivers.

Lori Martin, who runs a fleet of fewer than 10 trucks in Brantford, Ont., says she had to turn away a driver she wanted to hire. His record was good, she claims. He’d been running an eight-axle unit around Ontario delivering to Home Depot stores. But he’d earned his licence at a driving school that didn’t meet the insurance company’s criteria, and he had less than three years’ experience. Martin’s insurer, Markel Insurance Co. of Canada, would not add the driver to her policy.

A spokesperson for Markel says her company has a different underwriting protocol for smaller operations. “Where an operation does not have a bona fide fleet safety director with the ability to train, we prefer that they have only more experienced drivers,” she says. “We would prefer to see more novice drivers in larger fleets where we have confidence they can be mentored, coached, and acquire the additional safety and road training that they need.”

She says Markel sees the need to improve driver-training standards in Canada. To meet Markel’s standards as a recognized program, a school must be “three-way accredited” — they have to be an accredited facility, use accredited instructors, and delivering an accredited curriculum. Markel recognizes two accrediting bodies: CTHRC (Canadian Trucking Human Resources Council) and PTDI (Professional Truck Driver Institute).

But according to a report by the CTHRC called Review of Truck Driver Training Schools in Canada, the definition of “accredited” and the standards that the schools must employ varies widely across the country. Most of the schools the report identifies use training materials they developed on their own. Less than a quarter of the schools use the CTHRC or PTDI curricula.

Markel acknowledges that the market for drivers is tight. “We actually accept drivers with relatively little experience compared to other insurers,” the spokesperson says. “We don’t always require three years experience. What we do is we approve acceptability of risk, and we do allow new driver entrants to qualify in many cases with the safety programs in place.”

She has a point. After all, insurers are ones left to make the big payouts after a serious accident. Many would argue insurers do have a role to play considering how provinces and the training industry have done a poor job at regulating and standardizing the output from the schools.

But Martin fears the so-called driver shortage will get worse for small companies that can’t hire safety directors or afford “approved” programs.

Have your say

This is a moderated forum. Comments will no longer be published unless they are accompanied by a first and last name and a verifiable email address. (Today's Trucking will not publish or share the email address.) Profane language and content deemed to be libelous, racist, or threatening in nature will not be published under any circumstances.