INSURANCE: Keeping a Grip on Insurance Costs

If waste transportation affects your business, then the insurance industry may be giving you a tough time. How? By charging higher premiums for waste transportation insurance.

The trucking insurance market has experienced low premium growth, increased losses and declining investment income. This climate has made it difficult for insurers to profit from transporters, including waste haulers who, as a result, are likely to see their premiums increase. However, companies can help contain insurance costs and stop insurance rates from spiraling out of control.

Here are some key tips:

* Pay closer attention to driver selection. Hiring qualified, skilled employees will affect your safety record. Qualified drivers have been difficult to find for several years, and that certainly hasn't improved in today's tight job market. However, drivers must possess specific skills, a solid safety record and good judgment. Otherwise, they can be a tremendous liability. Many insurers will work with clients to help develop effective driver selection.

* Companies must retain qualified employees. Employers must find ways to become an "employer of choice." This means providing appropriate benefits and work hours, and having reasonable policies and procedures. Controlling driver turnover is a good way to minimize safety risks.

* Get safety policies and practices up to par. There are real benefits to having an effective safety program, such as the prevention of employee injuries, equipment and product damage, and environmental damages. Having safety measures in place will equal fewer accidents and less money spent on worker's compensation, general liability, auto liability, etc.

* Management must promote safety at all times. When employees see management has a healthy attitude toward safety, they are more likely to respond to safety initiatives. For example, many companies require drivers to attend safety meetings throughout the year. Regular safety meetings provide opportunities to train drivers and keep them aware of hazards or exposures along their routes. Also, more experienced drivers can share their knowledge with drivers who have fewer hours behind the wheel.

* Control liabilities and losses through driver training. An important consideration for insurance providers is how a company trains its drivers. Whether training is presented at safety meetings or through written communication, companies must document all training. All documentation should include the driver's name, the date of training, the course title and its description, and, if needed, future dates for re-training. Also, it's helpful to record the length of training sessions to meet regulatory requirements.

* Incentive programs are another way companies can advocate safety. These programs can be effective ways to raise interest and participation in safety awareness. Incentives can be as simple as an employee recognition award or point programs that allow employees to purchase merchandise based on the number of points acquired.

With the current state of the transportation insurance market, companies that work with their insurer to implement safety procedures and policies will be able to keep a tight grip on insurance costs for the long haul.