Independent Trucking Firms – What’s your Contingency Plan? Molly Lacoursiere, Leibel Insurance Group
Updated: May 24
Independent Trucking Firms – What’s your Contingency Plan?
Sometimes a shoestring budget and a prayer is all that some eager Entrepreneurs have when they set out to run their own businesses!
The same can be said for many who have the dream of running their own truck, accepting their own preferred routes, getting a bigger piece of the pie and somewhat scheduling their own lives! They dream of watching their businesses grow from a single unit to a full fledge fleet of lean, clean, monster machines! It is a great dream!
As a Commercial Broker with 30 years in the Insurance Industry, I have seen my fair share of failed startups in the transportation industry. Some have resulted from accident causes that have put the owner out of business, to unplanned mechanical breakdowns and unpaid or delayed contractor’s wages.
Here are a few items to consider when anticipating your next big step and how a few contingency plans put into place can make the difference between future success or failure, rest or sleepless nights. While it is true, no one can plan for all of the “unknowns” out there, the following can help newer and future independent owners:
How will I protect my Investment?
As an Insurance Professional, adequate Insurance is your first step. Talking with knowledgeable Professionals who ask the right questions, who clarify assumptions you have and who offer Insurance protection that makes sense for your business. This peace of mind will help you on your way so you can focus on getting those loads delivered. There are deductibles you have to consider. Some large accidents can trigger multiple deductibles such as in a collision, cargo or liability loss. Such deductibles could easily add up to $15,000 or more in a single large claim.
How are you prepared for deductibles that may be payable under your policies in the event of an accident or claim?
I have seen owners decline collision coverage to save a few premium dollars only to end up losing their full investment due to a collision claim.
If you decline collision and the claim is deemed an At-Fault Claim, you are also responsible for all charges including the towing and storage of your truck along with the repairs of the unit. These dollars add up quickly!
Another concern is becoming sick or injured as it can affect your ability to operate and run your truck and should be reviewed and covered with proper life, accident and disability Insurance coverage.
How much is enough when it comes to Emergency Funds?
Emergency Funds cannot be overstated as many Operators shut down because of cash flow problems. It is recommended that you have enough funds to continue operations for at least three to six months of expenses and you should have enough cash in the bank to be able to budget for any major equipment breakdowns that will occur. Breakdowns away from your home base can also create the need for additional funds for hotels and meals. Continual funding of your emergency account is recommended because sometimes when it rains, it really does pour! Each Owner has to determine what this amount looks like for them, their business and factor in the individual routes they will be taking on.
How will I handle down time?
Downtime is inevitable. For the Owner Operator, downtime can occur because of several different reasons; mechanical breakdown, damage due to accidents, illness or lost contracts. Some claims take longer to settle. A fire or theft claim can take anywhere from 30 to 60 days for a payout. That is just enough time to fall behind in commitments or losing a valuable contract. Depending on the collision claim where the Owner is not At-Fault, some down time losses may be recoverable. It is important to keep good bookkeeping records to substantiate financial losses in these claims.
In addition to Insurance protection, many Owner Operators are finding solutions to some of these down time dilemmas. Some Owner Operators are partnering with others in the Industry who can temporarily assist with additional loads if they cannot due to a breakdown or an illness. Collaborating with respected mechanical shops for regular maintenance to ensure parts get replaced is a good idea as well! Arranging for preventative maintenance to ensure the units are in top shape before they fail on trips, as charge out costs, plus parts and labour only add to the repair bill. Another option that many are choosing is purchasing their own back up unit for those “just in case” situations that could arise.
For those embarking on this new journey with some strategic planning you can ensure that you are well on your way to being a successful independent operator!
If you would like to know more about how your insurance policy can support your contingency plan our team would be happy to support you, please reach out to us at… firstname.lastname@example.org
Until then, Good Luck & Keep on Trucking!
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