Regardless of how good your driving record is or the fact that you haven’t filed any insurance claims, about once per year you go through the never-ending cycle of seeing your trucking insurance premiums increase. While many of the reasons for insurance premium increases are out of your hands, there are some things you can do to improve the chances that your trucker insurance increases don’t outpace your ability to pay.
1) Police your driving record — The cost of your semi truck insurance is directly tied to your driving record. While you might like getting out into the hammer lane and flying past all the other slow-pokes on the road, tickets (and increased risk of accidents) often follow. Your driving record is critical to keeping your truck driver insurance premiums in check, so avoid tickets like the plague. If you get one, do your best to minimize its impact. Since it has gotten much more difficult to make tickets “disappear” with the help of a good lawyer, your best bet is to slow down and avoid getting them in the first place.
2) Protect your credit — What does your credit have to do with your insurance rates? Plenty. Many insurance companies have begun assigning risk scores to their customers and potential customers based upon a variety of factors, including age, marital status, and credit scores. You may disagree with the policy, but insurance companies argue that customers with lower credit scores also tend to be less careful drivers. Some states don’t allow this practice, but many do. If yours does, simply paying your bills on-time can help you to save money on your truck insurance.
3) Lease onto a large carrier or seek association rates — While you may prefer the independence of having your own authority and making all of your own business decisions, there is a benefit to leasing on with a large carrier. Many times, they can pass along substantial savings on your truck insurance premiums. Whether you want to give up some of your independence and control over many other aspects of your business is up to you — but it remains one option for reducing your commercial trucking insurance premiums. Another is to join a large trucking association that offers their members access to group or association rates as a membership perk. You’ll have to weigh the pros and cons of group membership to see if the cost of membership is worth the amount you can save on insurance premiums.
4) Stay Out of the Ditch — It may go without saying, but the amount you pay for your trucking insurance coverage is directly related to the number and the seriousness of any claims filed. Instead of hoping against hope that your trucking insurance premiums remain low, take proactive steps to avoid accidents. Speeding, tailgating, and driving recklessly are all factors in the increased risk of accidents. In addition, pushing your physical limits to the breaking point can result in unnecessary accidents — or death and injury to yourself or others. So slow down, put the cell phone away, and pay attention to what you — and the “idiots” on the road are doing.
5) Be careful who you put behind the wheel — Overall driving experience can have a dramatic impact on truckers insurance premiums, so if you have a hired co-driver with a poor driving record or limited experience, you will pay more for insurance. By holding out for a good, experienced driver, you can save money on your insurance and rest assured that the person responsible for keeping your investment safe and secure is up to the task.
6) Follow the rules — As an owner/operator, you’re all-too-familiar with D.O.T. roadside inspections, compliance checks, and safety audits. What you may not know is that trucking insurance companies routinely pull your safety data when determining how much you’ll pay for truck insurance. One of the perks of compliance is spending less money on fines and other administrative sanctions. Another is paying less for your insurance.
7) Have a written safety policy — Written safety policies — detailing how you handle accidents, drug & substance abuse, and other safety-sensitive issues — might seem like a waste of time to an independent owner/operator who just wants to drive for a living, mind his or her business, and get home safely, but they can be a key to unlocking lower truck liability insurance premiums. Truck insurance companies are interested in reducing risk, and they know that customers that will take the time to think about safety policies — and write them down — are much more likely to follow them, so many insurance companies will reward you with lower insurance premiums if you do.
While these strategies can help to keep your premiums in check, there are also other things you can do to reduce your insurance premiums. Some of these will only save you a few dollars per month, but others can save you much more. Collectively, substantial savings can help you to exercise some control over how big a bite your insurance premiums take out of the “pie” that is your budget. These strategies can also be applied to tow truck insurance or dump truck insurance.
8] Reduce premium frequency — Money is tight for the average owner/operator, but if there is any way you can possibly do it, reduce the frequency with which you pay your tractor trailer insurance premiums. Call your insurance company and ask how much you can save by paying premiums quarterly, every six months, or even once per year. Most will offer a discount and some will save you quite a bit of money.
9) Increase insurance deductibles — the amount of an insurance claim that you have to pay before your insurance policy kicks in — are tied to your trucker insurance premiums. By sharing in some of this risk with your insurance company you can reduce your premiums.
10) Competitively bid your insurance — You may love the service that your insurance company gives you when you call in with a question, but that service can come with a price. By competitively bidding your commercial truck insurance quotes annually you can keep tabs on what other insurance companies are charging for the same coverage. If you find a lower rate, let your company know what you’ve found and ask them to match it. All won’t, but many will. If they won’t, you’ll have to decide whether or not you want to jump ship in search of lower premiums.
Individually, the measures listed above won’t necessarily save you a lot on your insurance premiums. However, collectively they can be a substantial amount of money that can reduce the amount you give to your insurance company. If it’s going to be in anyone’s pocket, it might as well be yours. As an owner/operator there are plenty of places you can spend it. Why give it to an insurance company when your need is so much greater than theirs?