The majority of auto accidents are caused by driver error, whether it be following too closely, speeding, driving distracted, driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or any other variety of reasons. As a business owner, you have control over who’s operating your vehicles and you should take this responsibility seriously. Don’t underestimate the importance of making sure you are hiring a safe driver before you allow them to operate one of your fleet. Always have an applicant sign a waiver permitting you to obtain a motor vehicle record (MVR) before you make a hiring decision. If there is any doubt about the acceptability of the record, forward it to your agent or insurance company for their approval or disapproval before allowing the applicant to drive.
If you have a fleet (five or more power units) and good loss experience, you may have an experience credit on your policy. You may also be in a less expensive company (tier) because of your good experience. The reality is, it only takes one unsafe driver to ruin all your good experience and drive your auto insurance costs up. Because experience credits may involve up to four years of data, it could take years to get credit back after a bad at fault accident.
While not always the case, many accidents involve drivers with several prior moving violations and/or at fault accidents. Exercise your right to choose someone with a good record before allowing them to use your assets. Would you allow someone with little or no prior experience to operate a 100,000 piece of machinery? If not, why would you allow someone who has several speeding tickets and a couple at fault accidents in the last three years to drive your new $80,000 truck in heavy urban traffic?
Pay close attention to the age of drivers as well. Statistically, drivers under the age of 25 are more likely to be involved in at fault accidents. Most insurance companies are going to be reticent to allow someone under 25 years old to be a driver on a commercial policy. This will be especially true if a truck weighs over 10,000 pounds. This also brings in to play the issue of personal vehicles being insured on a commercial policy and driven by young family members. This is obviously not the intent of a commercial auto policy and should be avoided. Like I previously mentioned, it only takes one loss to ruin that experience and jeopardize favorable pricing on your commercial policy. The family vehicles being driven by your 17-year-old son or daughter should be on a personal policy.
One final point is that when your company’s name and logo are on the vehicle, it is basically a rolling billboard. If one of your vehicles cuts somebody off in traffic, tailgates, or hits someone, people will notice what company that vehicle belongs to. It might be enough to make someone think twice before using the services of your company. Safe drivers will help you avoid these headaches and your company will have your pick of insurers.
The coverages described here are in the most general terms, and are subject to the actual policy conditions and exclusions. For actual coverage wording, conditions, and exclusions, refer to the policy or contact your agent.