3 Key Qualities Trucking Operations Should Look for in Their Motor Truck Cargo Insurance Partner

Inland marine is a fast-paced, always-growing business. Berkshire Hathaway Specialty Insurance (BHSI) demonstrates the flexibility, simplicity and prime customer service qualities required for smooth operations.

The trucking industry is a vital backbone to the American economy. Hauling 10.23 billion tons of freight each year, the industry is responsible for 72.5% of total domestic tonnage shipped in the United States. Medical supplies, building materials, appliances, cars — you name it, it’s being shipped.

The motor truck cargo business is also constantly evolving to meet demands, and as such, it is imperative trucking operations have the right team behind them. “They will want an insurer that is there for the long run. A partner that can write their policy exactly how they need and with the flexibility to handle today’s biggest challenges,” said Kristen Hunter, Head of Marine U.S. at BHSI.

Supply chain woes are just one of those challenges to which Hunter alluded. With containers full of cargo stuck on ships offshore, trucking operations must wait to haul shipments. In turn, they may have to let go of drivers or shrink their business, since there’s less work to be done.

But that only compounds the risk, as driver turnover can cause more delays. “A lot of drivers are stressed, working more hours than they want to or should be to make up the deficit,” Hunter explained. Not to mention the pandemic has also tightened talent resources, as businesses had to lay off workers and others are joining in The Great Resignation and leaving the industry.

It’s a lot to keep a pulse on. But operations small and large can muddle through even the worst of times with the right controls in place. There are several key qualities for owner operators and other trucking operations to look for in their insurance partner to guarantee they’re getting the best coverage, best services and best policy available.

1) Know what good customer service looks like, then find a partner that can exceed expectations.

Kristen Hunter, Head of Marine U.S., BHSI

Good customer service means getting questions answered and having requests met in a timely and accurate manner. But great customer service goes a step beyond that. Trucking operations should look for an insurance partner that understands their business and is ready to be creative in their underwriting to meet changing demand.

“As an example, a newer trucking operation may need to carry a higher deductible to show us that they can drive safely and responsibly, and then, over time, we can lower that for them,” Hunter said. In this time sensitive business, customization to meet the trucking company’s needs enables the cargo to keep moving. “Operations might need to add additional power units or increase their limits for a one-time load.

Having an insurance partner that responds quickly is critical for their business,” Hunter said. “At BHSI, we’ve built a team like this that’s trained. Everyone has a backup; everyone knows how to respond and how to respond quickly. We’re here to give them a good customer service experience and help get the job done.

Whatever their needs may be” Other key customer service qualities to seek out include timeliness in response to a claim. When a claim does come in, the last thing a trucking operation wants is to jump through hoops trying to get to the right source within their insurance partner to get it handled.

Hunter said, “They should want an insurer that is there to step in immediately, help figure out the situation and find the best solution to get them back on the road.

2) No two claims are exactly the same. Flexibility in coverage and underwriting options is key.

Accidents happen. Drivers come and go.

New trucks are added to fleets, and cargo can run the gamut from toothpicks to steel rods. And these changes can occur as quickly as a traffic light turns from red to green. Trucking is fast-paced, and a good insurance partner recognizes the need to be flexible.

“Whether a truck is hauling something out of the ordinary that requires specialty security requirements or requires a manuscript endorsement in order to meet contractual requirements, trucking needs shift constantly and we are able to address those needs quickly and efficiently,” Hunter said. “Insurers that use standard forms may limit their ability to be flexible and could even have to turn away a customer.” BHSI, she said, doesn’t want that; the team wants to be a long-term partner that can provide solutions for all of its customers’ needs. It’s one reason BHSI utilizes non-admitted paper to give customers the flexibility to change, adapt and grow their business without having to wonder if their insurance partner can keep up.

“We also offer flexibility in commodities that we can consider for trucking risks. We have the capacity we need to help them if they have increased limit needs. We also provide contract review from both an underwriting and claims perspective as a value-added service for our customers to make sure we’re covering all the bases,” Hunter explained.

It is in this flexibility that trucking companies can make quick decisions and have very customized coverage when needed.

3) Simplicity in knowing where to go, who to contact and how operations are run means smooth operations for trucking.

For trucking operations that utilize owner operators, finding an insurance partner shouldn’t be a headache. Yet, there are insurers that will look at self-owned and operated trucking operations and decide not to partner with them. “That ties into the makeup of the actual trucking company,” said Hunter. “The insurers can have a preconceived idea that these smaller operations are less likely to maintain their equipment or maybe not vet their drivers the way a larger operation would.”

But that is far from the case, she said, for most operations. “It ties into flexibility a little bit, but simplicity means having faith that the trucking company is doing everything to ensure they have safe drivers and that safety plans are in place and followed and vehicles are maintained accordingly.” A good insurance partner has faith in the company, giving them the space to vet their business and acting as a source to double-check those measures. The insurer, according to Hunter, will also put effort into making interactions between customer and insurer as simple and easy as possible.

“One thing we do at BHSI is introduce our claims team members to customers at the very start of the partnership so that a relationship can be established in addition to the underwriting relationship,” she said. This is key for simplicity, because the trucking companies already know who is going to help them in the event a claim arises instead of waiting and potentially losing precious time.

Incorporating Customer Service, Flexibility and Simplicity into the Underwriting Process

Renewals for the trucking industry is a very competitive space, and with many markets in this segment, finding the right partner with coverage and claims expertise that meets the needs of the customer can be critical. But it doesn’t have to be daunting.

Knowing the qualities to look for in a motor truck cargo insurance partner is step one. Finding a partner with those qualities is step two. Great customer service, flexibility and simplicity should not exist in a silo but instead interact and play off each other to be truly effective.

At BHSI, the team has made it their mission to do just that. “We’re always striving to place customer service, flexibility and simplicity at the forefront of our operations. These are our core values,” said Hunter.

“Earlier this year, we expanded our appetite after seeing that our book of business had become a bit conservative. We felt it was the right time to add more flexibility to meet our customers’ needs. It’s driven in new and profitable business, enabling us to continue to grow our portfolio in an organic way while writing policies to meet customers’ needs,” she continued.

“We are also always looking for ways to grow and improve. We look for feedback on our customer service, on our flexibility and on our simplicity of use. We want to know where we can make our processes easier, simpler and more efficient.

That makes us a better team, overall, and an organization customers want to partner with.” To learn more, visit: https://bhspecialty.com/us-products/us-marine/.

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BrandStudioLogo This article was produced by the R&I Brand Studio, a unit of the advertising department of Risk & Insurance, in collaboration with Berkshire Hathaway Specialty Insurance.

The editorial staff of Risk & Insurance had no role in its preparation. Berkshire Hathaway Specialty Insurance (www.bhspecialty.com) provides commercial property, casualty, healthcare professional liability, executive and professional lines, transactional liability, surety, marine, travel, programs, accident and health, medical stop loss, homeowners, and multinational insurance. The actual and final terms of coverage for all product lines may vary.  It underwrites on the paper of Berkshire Hathaway’s National Indemnity group of insurance companies, which hold financial strength ratings of A++ from AM Best and AA+ from Standard & Poor’s.

Based in Boston, Berkshire Hathaway Specialty Insurance has offices in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Houston, Indianapolis, Irvine, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, San Ramon, Seattle, Stevens Point, Adelaide, Auckland, Brisbane, Cologne, Dubai, Dublin, Frankfurt, Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur, London, Lyon, Macau, Madrid, Manchester, Melbourne, Munich, Paris, Perth, Singapore, Sydney, Toronto and Zurich. For more information, contact [email protected]. The information contained herein is for general informational purposes only and does not constitute an offer to sell or a solicitation of an offer to buy any product or service.

Any description set forth herein does not include all policy terms, conditions and exclusions. Please refer to the actual policy for complete details of coverage and exclusions. Berkshire Hathaway Specialty Insurance (www.bhspecialty.com) provides commercial property, casualty, healthcare professional liability, executive and professional lines, surety, travel, programs, accident and health, medical stop loss, and homeowners insurance.

The actual and final terms of coverage for all product lines may vary.

It underwrites on the paper of Berkshire Hathaway’s National Indemnity group of insurance companies, which hold financial strength ratings of A++ from AM Best and AA+ from Standard & Poor’s.