Rising fuel and maintenance/repair costs are always a hot topic for fleet owners and managers. But what’s typically not as top of mind is the rising cost of fleet vehicle insurance premiums over the last couple of years. With premiums steadily rising and, in some cases, even doubling, owners and managers need to be thinking more about insurance and how to keep premium costs under control.
The American Transportation Research Institute reported in 2020 that the increased rate of insurance costs for fleets among all other expenses — repair and maintenance, permits and licenses, tolls, and driver wages — was second only to increases in fuel costs. The two main factors that are driving these increases are:
- A steady rise in the number of multi-million dollar legal cases for accidents and the size of settlements
- An increase in traffic accidents, traffic injuries, and traffic fatalities
Considering these factors, insurance companies are exposed to significant losses. To meet their clients’ needs and maintain profitability, they have no recourse but to raise premium rates.
Getting Proactive with Safety and Technology
Ultimately, the factors that are driving higher insurance premiums are beyond the control of insurers and fleet owners/managers. Still, there are proactive measures you can take to help mitigate risk and keep premium costs under control. Promoting safety and implementing best practices that reduce the risk of accidents is where you start. This includes sound driver recruitment, selection, and retainment processes to ensure you have top-notch drivers. Another is investing in and leveraging the latest safety technology.
Let’s look closer at that with a “Technology Top Five” you should consider to help promote safety.
Some insurers offer a data-sharing program to share individual driver data with them for a driver-specific discount. The data helps determine how safe that driver is and can be used for training to correct unsafe driving habits and to recognize safe driving with bonuses or incentives. To ensure compliance, make sure you are using an ELD device approved by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).
In-vehicle cameras promote safety in numerous ways. With monitoring capabilities and direct feedback to drivers, unsafe moves and risky habits, such as speeding and cell phone use, can be corrected immediately. Plus, cameras can show who was a fault should an accident occur.
Some insurers will pay for cameras rather than providing a premium discount. Look for a system that includes AI cameras and sensors. This type of system can detect unsafe moves and provide in-cab alerts. With these capabilities, your drivers are immediately aware of any behaviors that put them, other drivers, and your company’s bottom line and reputation at risk.
Collision Avoidance System
Increasingly, collision avoidance systems are becoming a standard safety feature on newer vehicles — and for a good reason. These systems prevent and reduce the severity of a collision by warning drivers of an impending collision and can even automatically apply the vehicle’s brakes.
Many technologies and sensors are employed in these systems. They can include radar, laser, and cameras to monitor vehicle speed, the speed of the vehicle in front, and the distance between the two vehicles. While you need to check with your insurer to determine if a system will lower your rates, one thing is certain — a system can help reduce accidents, which is a plus for helping lower your premium rates.
Distracted Driving Technology
Distracted driving is a considerable concern for fleet owners/managers and is the most significant factor in vehicle collisions. Not only is it dangerous, but it can also be very costly. So you can bet that insurers expect you to have a strict policy in place to reduce distracted driving and ideally technology in place as well. These can include apps that shut the driver’s phone down when it detects a vehicle is in motion or technology that reminds drivers not to use their cell phones while driving.
GPS tracking provides numerous benefits, one of which is loss prevention. If a vehicle is stolen, you can immediately pinpoint its exact location, which increases your chances of getting the vehicle and its contents back. Additionally, GPS can provide drivers step-by-step directions to their destination — ensuring they take the shortest and safest route. Less time on the road means less chance of an accident or other incident, which insurers look favorably upon. Many insurers offer discounts up to 15 percent for fleets that implement GPS solutions, and some will even pay for the technology.
Safety initiatives and technology do not guarantee lower premiums rates, it varies by insurer and by technology. So, it’s crucial to shop insurers to find the one that best fits your needs. However, what they can do is help reduce accidents, which means fewer claims, paying deductibles, and keeping your drivers safe while on the road — and that’s most definitely money in the bank.