Commercial Auto Fleets – Vehicle Safety Tips

Does your business own a fleet of automobiles? Fleets are generally defined as a group of motor vehicles owned or leased by a business, rather than by an individual or family. Many businesses purchase or lease fleet vehicles to deliver goods to customers, or for sales representatives to travel to see clients, etc.

Overseeing multiple vehicles requires hefty organizational skills and  responsibility. Not only do you need to keep tabs on the vehicles themselves, but you need to take into account the employees driving them. When managing your businesses fleet of automobiles, consider three main points:

  1. Safety
  2. Maintenance
  3. Your insurance program

How can you improve fleet safety?

  • All fleet insurance programs should start with driver selection and having suitable standards for the drivers hired. As a business, make sure that all the drivers you hire meet your standards. Review your driver list to make sure that you are keeping the very best drivers. Insurance carriers make it a priority to look at the driving records of the people you put on the road.
  • Once you hire a new driver, provide adequate training programs, both on and off the road. Make sure your drivers are familiar with their routes and with the customers’ operations so they know where they’re going and what they are supposed to do.
  • Once your drivers are on the road, be sure to measure what’s going on. Be aware of when your drivers have violations, accidents or incidents. Technology these days can help you do that. Systems such as on-board recorders can give you details like hard braking, speeding, etc. Some vehicle systems have parameters that will alert you if the driver has gone off-route. These systems alert the dispatcher that your driver has left the route, then you can contact the driver to see what’s going on.

What can be done to improve maintenance?

  • Be sure that your vehicles are well-maintained and that you are keeping adequate records to document that maintenance. Train drivers to do inspections. Consider having a checklist that they need to complete before and after every trip to prove that they have done those inspections.
  • At the very least, perform the regularly scheduled preventive maintenance, whether you’re using your own mechanics or outside mechanics, and document it all. That way, you can prove what you have and haven’t done if there ever was an issue with that vehicle or an accident. Some businesses resort to technology that will alert them when the vehicle is due for maintenance, and the dispatcher will be notified not to dispatch that vehicle until that maintenance has been completed.

How do you determine what type of insurance coverage you need?

  • Concerning your insurance program, be sure your insurance broker has a complete understanding of all details of your fleet and that it is clearly relayed to your insurance carrier because it will affect your premium. Premium is rated according to whatever you’re transporting, your radius of operations, whether you are operating in an urban or rural area, whether you are a short-haul or long-haul.
  • Once a loss occurs, stay very involved because in the end, those losses will determine what your insurance premiums are going to be.

It is very important to have an insurance partner who can represent your best interests. Monitoring the claims process is as important as preventing the claim in the first place.


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About Jimmy Kinmartin - Business Insurance & Risk Management

Jimmy is a California licensed Property & Casualty AND Accident & Health insurance agent working at the Olson Duncan Insurance brokerage based in Torrance and Irvine, CA. He grew up in Fullerton, CA and graduated from Servite High School in Anaheim and Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles and currently lives in Tustin, CA. Have questions? Just ask! Or, follow Jim on Twitter at @JimKinmartin

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