5 Ways to Trim Motorcoach Insurance Costs

Posted on June 26, 2013 by Alex Roman, Managing Editor

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3. Realize there are no discounts
Have you bought a new car or renewed your auto policy lately? There are plenty of discounts to be had for everything from anti-lock brakes to airbags, the distance you travel on a yearly basis to where you park your vehicle, and whether you have LoJack installed to the type of degree you received. But know this: while it is great to have electronic on-board recorders (EOBRs), cameras, and lane departure or electronic stability control technology installed on your vehicles, simply having them will not earn you a discount on your insurance.

“The main idea is to have less fatalities and less accidents, and there is a lot of technology out there that can help play a role in that, but the operators have to know how to use them,” says Silvestro. “When an operator calls us and says they have installed cameras on all their vehicles, for example, and asks for a discount, you have to ask them how they are using them. You can have every bell and whistle out there, but if you don’t use and manage it to make sure you are getting better, then it is kind of irrelevant.”

In other words, it’s nice to have all the latest safety technologies on board, but learning how to make use of them to train and retrain your drivers is of paramount importance.

“It is one thing to simply install technology, such as EOBRs, but an operator has to analyze the data that is captured by these devices,” says O’Neill. “The hidden benefit, or perhaps the most important benefit of EOBRs and cameras, is they paint a picture of your drivers’ behavior. Do they drive at excessive speeds? Why did they brake hard? The supervisor, or safety manager at larger operations, need to be reviewing this information, and when they see something they don’t like, sit down with the driver and get things straightened out.”

In short, equip your vehicles with all the latest safety technologies, but remember they are only as valuable to your operation as you make them. While they can be used to prove who was at fault should an accident occur, operators have more near-misses than costly incidents. Simply having cameras and EOBRs onboard your motorcoaches doesn’t make your operation safer. You have to use them as a teaching tool as well as a way to manage your drivers and their behaviors. You can’t be on the vehicle with them at all times, but you can at least know what they are doing while they are out on the road and use that information to increase safety.

4. Use Tools the Insurance Company Provides
One reason it is important to shop for the right insurance company is they will become your partner in ensuring you are providing the safest transportation services possible.

“We have a division of our company called Safety, Claims and Litigation Services whose sole purpose is to help our customers with their safety programs,” Silvestro says. “We have a video library, online training tools and several other options for operators to use, but they have to use them. It all comes down to them having a culture of safety or not in their organization, because if they think it’s all fluff, the people underneath them are going to take the same attitude.”

Meanwhile, Lancer has 10 regional safety managers around the nation who will work directly with owners or their safety managers to develop safety programs, conduct driver meetings and go over training materials free of charge.

“We realize improving safety isn’t going to happen just because we and our customer hope it will happen,” O’Neill says. “We are very hands on in helping operators make it happen by providing them the tools they need. If we see they are having a particular type of problem with their drivers or the routes they run, we will work with them in trying to figure out a solution.”

Approximately 12 years ago, Lancer was also out front in the study of driver fatigue and how such things as circadian rhythms and sleep apnea can impact a driver’s performance.

“We spent a lot of time and money investigating driver fatigue by going through our records and seeing there was a direct correlation between fatigue and the types of accidents that tend to be horrendous, such as rollovers,” O’Neill explains. “As a result, we developed a lot of materials, such as videos and booklets, back when the subject was unpopular in the passenger transportation industry.”

Today, driver fatigue and its many causes is widely acknowledged as an issue, and Lancer’s driver fatigue training materials are key in helping operators and drivers understand the issue as well as what they can do to ensure safety.

5. Manage Your Risk
Truth be told, if you ignore everything else, risk management is the key step in ensuring your insurance premiums are as low as they can possibly be.

“Key to us for our customers is risk management. That is what we talk to our customers about the most: managing their fleets and drivers and making sure they are doing everything they can to be safe,” says Silvestro.

One key to managing risk includes hiring, retaining, training and retraining drivers.

“Hire the best drivers you can, train them to be better and pay them properly so you can keep them,” says Shriver. “Many times, operators say they need to save money so they can buy a new motorcoach, but maybe a better idea is paying drivers and buying a new motorcoach every other year.”

Silvestro adds hiring the right drivers pays off in many ways.

“When it comes down to it, the more accidents an operator has, the more expensive it is going to be to insure their vehicles,” she says. “You can only tell drivers so much to take care of themselves and eat right, so we try to talk to our companies about who they are hiring. It’s important to make sure when you are hiring you are choosing the best possible candidates and not your next workers comp claim.”

After hiring the best drivers you can, it is also important to manage the trips you send them out on. Insurance experts suggest avoiding dangerous trips or asking drivers to drive throughout the night, particularly in the early morning hours, as much as possible.

“You hear all about the accidents on snowy roads in the middle of the night where the bus went off the road and rolled over; the risk is higher when you travel under those conditions,” says Silvestro. “So, what’s the answer, don’t do it? If you can afford to not take on that type of business, you definitely have to think about it.”

Even if you have taken on these types of trips for years, the term “bad things happen to good people” exists for a reason, she adds.

RELATED: "Combating Driver Fatigue An Uphill Battle."

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