Can you tell me about yourself and your role at Travelers/Northland Transportation?
I have been in the insurance industry for over 20 years and joined Travelers in early 2022 to run the Northland Insurance business. My insurance background is in strategy, business development and finance, and I have also led several commercial insurance profit and loss. I also spent an additional 10 years in the computer software industry early in my career, so I have a bias towards automation and data analysis in my thinking.
As President of Northland, which is the industry’s largest wholesale trucking insurance company, I work closely with our talented and experienced team to deliver industry-leading trucking insurance solutions for owner-operators and fleets across our wholesale specialized transportation partners. In 2023, we will celebrate our 75th anniversary, a testament to the organization’s dedication to trucking and our ability to constantly evolve to serve our customers.
What is the current state of commercial auto insurance in the US?
Commercial automobiles have been affected by challenges similar to those seen in personal automobiles. The increase in truck repair and replacement costs was initially caused by COVID-related supply chain shortages and strong demand as freight rates hit record highs. Now, inflation continues to drive up the costs of trucks, parts and labor.
Truck insurance also faces significant challenges created by grand jury prizes, which have been increasing in both dollar amounts and frequency. Unfortunately, this trend is limiting carrier options in the market and contributing to higher premiums. Northland supports trade organizations, such as the American Trucking Associations, who are advocating on behalf of the industry for regulatory reform to help address this issue.
We also work with our clients to help them mitigate some of these risks. For example, our dedicated claims professionals not only understand trucking and have specific experience with heavy truck claims, but are also knowledgeable about jurisdictional differences and local attorneys who can help resolve or defend claims faster to achieve results. correct.
We also provide risk management information and resources that can help our customers keep fleets on the road and operating safely. This includes comprehensive training resources, virtual and on-site security reviews with customers where our transportation security experts provide comprehensive analysis and security recommendations, and self-service tools for smaller fleets and owner-operators. Northland can also help transportation companies better evaluate emerging technologies and understand the costs and benefits of investment.
These best practices help our clients retain drivers and reduce the total cost of operations over time.
How has the pandemic affected the road transport sector?
Truck demand peaked during COVID, first as home delivery became more common and then as we work on supply chain backlog. We saw record numbers of new truck operators, usually one or two units, due to the strong profit potential when freight rates reach record levels.
Company drivers also benefited from pay increases and other benefits during that time, attracting a more diverse group of drivers. According to the Women in Trucking Association’s 2022 Women in Trucks Index, women drivers make up nearly 14% of the industry today, up from 10% in 2019.
Many new truck deliveries have been delayed due to supply chain issues, and while prices are down from all-time highs, there is still limited, old inventory of used trucks. Fuel prices have increased and inflationary pressure is affecting prices and labor. Some smaller operators have closed their doors due to rising costs, but many of those drivers are choosing to join larger fleets.
How has insurance helped mitigate this?
Insurance protects truck owners by providing coverage if there is an accident or damage to your vehicle, so we’ll cover these higher costs of repairing parts and labor to get your trucks back on the road fast. Or, if needed, we help them manage the increased cost of a replacement truck, as long as their insured values stay current. We also provide additional benefits, such as roadside assistance and towing reimbursement, to help owners cover the unexpected costs of vehicle breakdown.
What new and emerging technologies are being used to help trucking companies control their insurance costs?
Automated Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS), which are similar to the automatic braking and lane assist features you may experience in your personal car, have helped trucking companies improve safety general.
The data and analytics provided by telematics can be used to provide personalized driver coaching and safety training. For example, if a vehicle is in an accident, the telematics system can help fleet managers determine the speed before impact, whether the brakes were applied, and whether the driver took any evasive maneuvers to avoid the other vehicle or object. Along with identifying unsafe behaviors such as distracted driving and opportunities for improvement, this data can also help trucking companies recognize and reward safe driving and make better decisions about how employees are trained to potentially reduce accidents. avoidable accidents.
In addition, insurance companies can also use telematics and camera data to defend or settle accident claims more effectively, which can significantly reduce legal costs and reduce the likelihood of large lawsuits.
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