Trucking Industry Facing Increased Claims Amid Economic Strains

Thang Truong
Thang Truong
Updated on:

The trucking industry is grappling with a rise in fire and theft claims amidst economic strains, higher insurance costs, fuel prices, and driver shortages. This unsettling trend, reminiscent of past recessions, raises concerns over fraud and foul play, as well as the challenges in risk mitigation and claim adjustments. The insights of Stacy Bradshaw, the president of Bradshaw Insurance Group (BIG), sheds light on the situation and offers some potential remedies.

The Rising Trend of Fire and Theft Claims

Higher economic pressures in the trucking industry have led to an increased number of fire and theft claims. Bradshaw has noted indications of this trend in her own business. “When you have that financial strain on this segment, the result is often a higher frequency of fire and theft losses,” she said. These patterns were also evident during previous recessions when truck owners under financial stress would report their vehicles as stolen or burned.

Historical Perspective: A Recurring Phenomenon

During the Great Recession of 2007-2009, similar spikes were observed in fire and theft claims within the trucking sector. A decline in these incidents occurred as the economy improved, and during the COVID-19 pandemic, claims were scarce. Bradshaw explained, “The trucking industry thrived during COVID… Now that the things are returning to normal, and the economy is struggling a little bit, we’re seeing this increase again.”

The Challenges: Insurance Premiums and Fraud Detection

Increased claims will inevitably lead to higher insurance premiums for the trucking industry, further straining the financial situation of fleet owners. Identifying legitimate losses versus foul play or fraud remains a challenge. Bradshaw acknowledged, “You just investigate as best you can, and sometimes you find out that it’s a problem, and other times you just have to move on and pay the claim, and that’s what the industry absorbs.”

Solutions: Risk Mitigation and Driver Selection

For agents and brokers, risk mitigation is paramount. By employing measures such as dash cams and monitoring systems, safety levels can be increased, potentially reducing premium costs. Driver selection also plays a crucial role. Despite a shortage of skilled drivers, companies must remain selective. Bradshaw advised considering candidates’ safety history and conducting regular maintenance checks to control insurance costs and expenses.

Potential Impact on Commercial Truck Insurance Costs

The alarming rise in fire and theft claims in the trucking industry inevitably has serious repercussions for commercial truck insurance costs. As these claims become more frequent, insurance providers find themselves facing a challenging environment, where risks are elevated, and payouts may become more common.

Increased Premiums

One immediate effect may be an increase in commercial truck insurance premiums. The heightened frequency of claims necessitates a reevaluation of risk profiles, leading to higher costs for fleet owners and operators. This increase in premiums could put further financial strain on the industry, especially for small and medium-sized enterprises that already operate with thin margins. You need to make sure to find the cheapest commercial truck insurance quotes when your policy is up for renewal.

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Stringent Underwriting Criteria

Insurance companies may respond to this trend by tightening their underwriting criteria. More rigorous screenings and assessments could be implemented to gauge the risk accurately, with particular attention to factors such as the driver’s experience, vehicle condition, and compliance with safety regulations. This could make it more challenging for some operators to secure coverage, further complicating the industry’s landscape.

Investment in Risk Mitigation

The necessity to control claims might lead to a more significant focus on risk mitigation measures. Insurers could incentivize the adoption of safety technology, regular maintenance checks, and robust hiring practices to reduce the likelihood of theft and fire incidents. These measures, while potentially reducing premiums in the long run, may require initial investments that could be burdensome for some trucking companies.

Potential Shift to Alternative Insurance Models

Lastly, the industry might witness a shift towards alternative insurance models, such as captive or self-insurance, particularly among larger operators who can bear the upfront costs. These models may provide more control over the insurance process and may be tailored to individual company needs, reflecting specific risk profiles and cost structures.

The ripple effects of increasing fire and theft claims within the trucking industry reach far beyond immediate claim payouts. They set in motion a complex interplay of factors that could redefine commercial truck insurance in terms of cost, availability, and structure. The challenges and opportunities ahead call for strategic planning and collaboration among insurers, fleet owners, and industry regulators. By understanding and addressing these potential impacts, stakeholders can work towards a more resilient and financially sustainable trucking industry.

Final thoughts

The trucking industry’s present challenges with increased fire and theft claims are indicative of broader economic struggles and necessitate a multifaceted response. Through careful investigation, increased vigilance, strategic risk mitigation, and thoughtful driver selection, there are pathways to manage this complex issue. The wisdom shared by industry experts such as Bradshaw offers a practical roadmap to navigate these turbulent times, ensuring stability and safety within this essential sector.

Thang Truong

Thang Truong covers small business insurance and small business success at BravoPolicy. He is a licensed P&C insurance agent. Previously, he held product leadership positions at, Capital One, NerdWallet, and Mulberry Technology. He holds a MBA degree from UC Berkeley - Haas School of Business.

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