LATE REPORTING OF CLAIMS

LATE REPORTING OF CLAIMS
Comes with consequences

Call Your Agent

So many things can happen in a short amount of time and when you delay reporting a claim, those “things” can be forgotten, embellished and/or lost forever. If it is something that can help in your defense, you don’t want it lost.

When you are involved in any type of claim that has property damage or injury, it is imperative that you let your insurance agent know as soon as possible so that the process of discovery can begin. In many instances, an insurance company can have an independent adjuster dispatched to the scene to begin the process.

Witnesses: When there are witnesses to a claim, it is critical to talk to those witnesses as soon as possible in order to get their version of the story. Details can become fuzzy or lost altogether as time goes by. Always get names and phone numbers of witnesses – especially if they cannot stay at the scene.

Your story: When you or a driver are involved in a claim, the details are so important, e.g. how many people were in a particular vehicle at that time? We see claims where individuals that were not even involved in the crash are claiming injury. Write down the details, take pictures and/or have someone in the company designated to conduct post-accident interviews.

Scene changes: The more time that goes by the more a scene can change. Skid marks fade and/or other skid marks occur, spills get cleaned and damages get repaired. When there isn’t proper documentation and examination of the scene, it becomes more difficult for a claims professional to do their job.

Unnecessary expenses: Expenses can occur when a claim is reported late to your insurance company. When a claimant’s vehicle is damaged, they will likely need a rental. The longer the life of the claim, the more rental expense is incurred. Additionally, claimants can rationalize that the insurance company is not properly tending to their claim and respond by hiring an accident attorney. These attorneys are synonymous for inflating charges.

Your damages: Another item to note is that when you are involved in a claim, your damages need to be fixed as soon as possible as well. We see claims where damaged parts from a previous crash fall off of the vehicle and cause another separate claim.

Please report your claim as soon as possible to give your claims professionals the best chance at defending you and reducing your exposure to unnecessary costs. A notice of an incident to an agent is a notice of claim. You should expect confirmation from the insurance company of the claim within a reasonable amount of time.

President signs highway legislation into law

With one day left before the latest transportation funding extension expired, the House of Representatives and the Senate passed the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act (FAST Act) securing Highway funding for the next five years. The FAST Act authorizes federal surface programs through fiscal year 2020 providing $305 billion for roads, bridges and mass transit.

President Obama put pen to paper signing the FAST Act into law late December 4th securing long-term transportation funding for the first time in over a decade. The House of Conferees representing both houses signed off on their compromise bill on Dec. 1. Two days later, the House passed the Act by a vote of 359-65 on Dec. 3. That same evening, the Senate followed suit with a vote of 83-16.
The $305 billion comes in reauthorizing the 18.5 cent-per-gallon fuel tax and $70 billion in subsidies. Lawmakers have resisted increasing the federal gas tax and instead are using offsets to bridge the annual shortfall. The $70 billion comes from: tapping into the surplus of the Federal Reserve bank; reducing dividends that are paid to banks; adding additional customs fees; selling oil reserves; and privatizing some IRS tax collections.

Minimum Liability Insurance – In accordance with the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21), the FMCSA was required to conduct a study on the issue of minimum financial responsibility limits for motor carriers. With skyrocketing medical costs and high-profile crashes i.e., Walmart vs Tracy Morgan and the Skagit River bridge collapse that far exceeded the insurance aggregates, FMCSA floated a proposal to more than triple those minimums to somewhere around $3.5 million. However, studies (including FMCSA’s own study) have shown that roughly half of 1% of all truck-involved crashes even exceed the current minimum levels. Likely consequences of such an increase would be increased insurance premiums, critical driver acceptance policies and the large scale attrition within the workforce. Surely, such an increase would be devastating to the economy, the majority of America’s motor carriers and the insurance industry. In the end, however with a lot of grass roots effort by the trucking industry, the message was received by politicians who have quelled the Agency’s off-base efforts.

The FAST Act includes language that mandates responsible consideration from the FMCSA when introducing language that would increase the minimum liability insurance requirement on trucking businesses. For instance, prior to issuing a final rule, consideration must be given for the potential impact on: the safety of motor vehicle transportation; and the motor carrier industry; the ability of the insurance industry to provide the required amount of insurance; the extent to which current minimum levels of financial responsibility adequately cover medical care; compensation; and other identifiable costs; the frequency with which insurance claims exceed current minimum levels of financial responsibility in fatal accidents; and the impact of increased levels on motor carrier safety and accident reduction.
Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) – The Government Accountability Office, various law enforcement organizations, truckers and politicians alike have been extremely critical of the FMCSA.

So much so that, included in the Act are requirements to thoroughly review and reform the Agency’s procedures. Specific to the trucking industry, the FMCSA is required to commission a study of the Agency’s CSA program and the Safety Measurement System (SMS) utilized by the CSA program. Very important is that from the time of enactment (December 4) and until further notice, the Act requires that the FMCSA remove from public websites any analysis, enforcement and inspection data regarding motor carriers of property.

The CSA study mandated by the FAST Act is charged with getting into the weeds as to the accuracy and benefit of the program – especially with its Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Categories (BASICs). The study will attempt to identify the relative value of inspection information and roadside enforcement data; identify any data collection gaps and the impact of those gaps to the CSA program; and identify the accuracy of safety data including the use of data in which a motor carrier was free from fault and much more.

Hair testing – The regulations permit motor carriers to use hair testing as an acceptable alternative to urine testing in both pre-employment screening and random testing if the operator was subject to hair testing for preemployment testing.
You can view a the full bill at: http://transportation.house.gov/

Spotlight on crashes

Multiple Vehicle Crash

As we have noticed an uptick in the frequency of multiple-vehicle crashes, we would like to pass on some key points to consider with respect to liability arising out of these types of crashes. The key for investigators is to determine the sequence of events. The following would be typical questions you might be asked following a crash.

      1. Were you stopped before the impact?
      2. If not, how far were you from the vehicle ahead before you made contact?
      3. How many impacts did you feel?
      4. What was the severity of each impact?
      5. Was a lane change the cause of the crash?

In addition to the information above, any photos that you could provide before the vehicles are moved would help to preserve the scene for accident investigators. As always, safety first. Do not put yourself in an unsafe area to take photos. When safe, take photos of all angles, both the whole scene and the impact areas. Take photos of signs, intersections and skidmarks. Photos go a long way in helping claims representatives to corroborate any received testimony.

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Always give yourself enough room to stop behind the vehicle in front of you. If you are being followed too closely, increase your distance from the vehicle ahead to help prevent a rearend crash.
Another type of crash we are seeing more often is trucks backing into dock doors and stationery vehicles. These accidents have been occurring with seasoned drivers. Safety coordinators should add these accident types to their driver meeting notes as the development of bad habits and not asking for assistance is more likely to blame than actual ability.

When a parking situation is tight – especially when backing, you should always get a spotter to assist you. If the area appears to be too tight, stop and ask to have the obstacle moved to accommodate your truck and trailer size. Do not risk a claim. When backing without a spotter, be sure to get out of the truck and check for obstacles and people that might be behind and/or alongside your vehicle and trailer.

New CCIA Gear!

Have you received your new CCIA t-shirt yet?

The CCIA team came up with a new design this year that highlights the theme of “keeping it moving”. The title of the shirt is “Big Wheels Keep On Turnin'”. The design is a play on the large and numerous wheels found on a commercial truck and the long and winding roads that they travel on. We hope you enjoy it!

Every year, the CCIA team produces a different shirt design and distributes them to each of its clients. We’d love to know what you think about the shirts and are open to ideas for next year’s design.Big Wheels Keep On Turnin'

ADVERSE WEATHER CONDITIONS EXPECTED

El Niño The National Weather Service issued a September advisory giving a 95% chance that El Niño will continue through the 2015-16 winter, with an 85% chance that it will last into early spring 2016.
According to the advisory, current “atmospheric and oceanic features reflect a significant and strengthening El Niño”, which is expected to peak in late fall/early winter.

El Niño weather conditions occur when winds in the central Pacific Ocean along the equator slow or reverse direction. The change in the winds warms water over a vast area, causing drastic changes in weather patterns around the world. Typically, El Niño conditions reduce rainfall in Australia and parts of southeast and southern Asia and increase rainfall in the United States.

This year, climate forecasters have already measured sea surface temperatures in the east-central Pacific Ocean that are more than 3.7° F above normal (84° F). Temperatures that warm have not been recorded this early in the year in the last 65 years. However, each time they got close, they preceded big El Niño weather conditions. In extreme conditions such as those associated with an El Niño, hope for the best, but prepare for the worst.

Extreme instances of rain, fog, ice, snow and dust can accompany weather conditions such as El Niño. Adverse conditions such as these make driving very dangerous. As a commercial vehicle operator, you should be prepared for these conditions. Your vehicle’s size and weight can hamper your ability to maneuver and stop as favorably as other vehicles thereby increasing your risk of a crash. Be prepared. Keep your equipment in good operating condition including maintaining proper tire tread depth and air pressure and never rush onto the road without performing a pre-trip inspection.
In all extreme weather conditions, the first thing you should do is slow down, be patient and allow extra time to get to your destination safely.

FOG – Because of reduced visibility, heavy fog is one of the most dangerous conditions. Always check the weather forecast prior to your trips. If you must, when driving in foggy conditions you should: slow down; turn on your low-beam headlights; use wipers and defroster as necessary; be prepared to stop quickly; be alert to drifting out of your lane by paying attention to road reflectors and road striping; and roll down your window to listen for audible clues as to what is happening around you. If/when the fog becomes too thick to see far enough ahead of you to react safely, pull completely off the road and wait for it to lift.

Heavy rain downpours can come without warning. You should: slow down and increase the distance between you and the vehicle ahead of you; turn on your headlights and fog lamps to increase your visibility; reduce condensation on your windshield with your defroster; and avoid driving in the outermost lanes that tend to pool up with water. Proactively, you would keep the inside of your windows clean to reduce reflections.

Flooding can occur when large amounts of rain falls in a short period of time. Streams, rivers and flood channels can rise quickly during these periods. Along the city streets, overwhelmed storm drains can pool up fast. Never attempt to drive through a flooded roadway. According to the National Weather Service, nearly half of all flash-flood deaths occur in vehicles, killing motorists who attempted to drive through the flooded roadway.

Water does not have to be deep to cause a dangerous condition. One inch of water on a roadway can hide dangerous potholes and/or cause your vehicle to hydroplane – no matter how heavy your vehicle is.

During hydroplaning, you will lose the ability to steer and brake. To avoid hydroplaning: slow down; avoid quick acceleration and hard braking; and take turns slower than normal. If you find yourself in a skid, don’t panic. Ease your foot off the accelerator and turn the steering wheel in the direction you want the vehicle to go so that when you regain traction you are not thrust into a crash situation. However, if you need to brake during the skid, pump your brakes gently until you regain contact with the road.

The current of moving water is very strong and the water can be deeper than you think. One foot of water can be enough to separate most vehicles from the road. When faced with moving water, turn around and find another route or get off the road and wait the storm out.

Lastly, you should keep an automotive emergency kit with you in your vehicle. There are a number of prepackaged emergency kits on the market that provide a good combination of supplies, but don’t hesitate to tailor one to fit your commercial needs.

Be prepared, stay alert, stay alive!

Highway Trust Fund Extended through October 29

Both the Senate and the House have voted to keep the Highway Trust Fund running for another three months through the end of October. President Obama signed the stopgap bill (HR3236) into law on Friday, July 31. This, the 34th short-term transportation extension since 2009 keeps the trust fund solvent allowing vital road and bridge construction to continue through the summer.

While both House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell have openly stated that their goals are to come up with long-term legislation, neither had come any closer to an agreement on how to pay for it. The Senate has passed a six-year $275 billion bill termed the DRIVE Act. The House will work on its own multiyear bill when it returns in September. The two chambers will have roughly six weeks to construct a plan, find a funding mechanism and hash out any differences before sending it to the President for approval. Both chambers remain optimistic that they will be able to work out a fully-paid-for, six-year bill following the August recess.

Those in the trucking industry should use this time to strengthen their fight for the things that matter most to them. Following the August recess, be sure to contact your representatives!

http://www.house.gov/representatives/find/
http://www.senate.gov/senators/contact/

REQUIRED! Electronic Stability Control

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) published a final rule requiring electronic stability control (ESC) systems on truck tractors and certain buses with a gross vehicle weight rating of greater than 26,000 pounds.

Industry stakeholder Meritor WABCO announced its support of the final rule stating, “we fully endorse NHTSA’s action” and “ESC helps save lives and reduce injuries and accident-related costs.” Meritor WABCO with its SmartTracTM stability control system boasts 262,000 vehicles in more than 220 fleets equipped with the technology. According to the company, those fleets equipped with the technology report a reduction of rollover and loss-of-control accidents by up to 60%.

ESC systems are designed to reduce untripped rollovers and mitigate severe understeer or oversteer conditions that lead to loss of control by using automatic computer-controlled braking and reducing engine torque output.
For all new typical three-axle truck tractors manufactured on or after August 1, 2017, the effective date of this rule is August 24, 2016. For all other truck tractors including two-axle vehicles, the effective date is delayed two years due to their increased braking capabilities.

NHTSA determined that a 150-foot radius J-turn test maneuver to be an efficient means to ensure vehicles maintain roll stability. The J-turn test maneuver involves accelerating to a constant speed on a straight stretch of high-friction track before entering into a 150-foot-radius curve. After entering the curve, the driver attempts to maintain the lane at a speed that is up to 1.3 times the speed at which the ESC system activates, but in no case below 30 mph. An ESC system must activate the vehicle’s service brakes to slow the vehicle’s speed to 29 mph within 3 seconds after entering the curve and 28 mph within 4 seconds after entering the curve. Additional J-turn tests are conducted to ensure that an ESC system is able to reduce engine torque.

Speeds on a 150-foot radius curve of greater than 30 mph on a typical truck tractor are likely to lead to lateral instability, wheel lift, and possible rollover.

www.nhtsa.gov

Autonomous truck approved for Highways

Nevada has officially granted the first license for an autonomous commercial truck to operate on an open public highway in the U.S. to Freightliner Trucks. Freightliner’s Inspiration truck is equipped with what is termed “Highway Pilot Technology” (HPT). HPT used radar to monitor its surroundings and react by controlling speed and braking. The vehicle’s onboard camera reads the lane stripes and markings to detect its position while controlling the power steering to maintain in the center of the lane. The vehicle also has a mode called “Platooning” that allows other vehicles with HPT to connect with the lead vehicle. Through vehicle to vehicle communication, adjustments to operational components such as speed and braking are performed almost simultaneously. Platooning is expected to reduce air flow and air pressure which in turn increases aerodynamics and vehicle efficiency.

For more information, visit www.freightlinerinspiration.com

Regulatory actions ramping up for truckers

July 1st marks 35 years since the landmark Motor Carrier Regulatory Reform and Modernization Act (aka The Motor Carrier Act of 1980) was signed into law by former President Jimmy Carter, partially deregulating the trucking industry. Here in 2015, the red tape is as vibrant as ever and over-regulation is abundant, extremely restrictive and costly.

Listed below are regulations set to become a Final Rule or Proposed Rule later this year:

Coercion of Commercial Motor Vehicle Drivers; Prohibition (Proposed Rule)
FMCSA is proposing to adopt regulations that prohibit motor carriers, shippers, receivers, or transportation intermediaries from coercing drivers to operate commercial motor vehicles in violation of certain provisions of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations.
While there is an overwhelming consensus that coercion is a bad thing, very few truly feel that this proposed rule as written has the teeth to make a big difference. It doesn’t require special declarations by employers who dismiss a driver, no date/time stamps on Bills of Lading for pickup and delivery, no signed review of HOS prior to dispatch – really nothing procedural. Rather, it states that drivers “must bear a substantial burden of proof” in establishing coercion. If and when found in violation, the offender will receive a fine and may be ordered to pay restitution for the coercion.
This proposed rule is scheduled to clear OMB and be published as a Final Rule by September 10. Docket #: FMCSA-2012-0377 RIN: 2126-AB57
Commercial Driver’s License Drug &

Alcohol Clearinghouse (Proposed Rule)
FMCSA is proposing to establish the Commercial Driver’s License Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse, a database that will contain controlled substances and alcohol test results for commercial drivers.

The proposed rule would require verified positive, adulterated, and substituted drug test results, positive alcohol test results, test refusals, negative return-to-duty test results, and information on follow-up testing to be reported and stored in the database. The proposed rule would also require employers to report actual knowledge of traffic citations for driving a commercial motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. The proposed rule would also establish the terms of access to the database which includes prospective and current employers.
Electronic Logging Devices and Hours of Service Supporting Documents
(Proposed Rule)
FMCSA is proposing amendments to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations to establish: Minimum performance and design standards for hours-of-service (HOS); electronic logging devices (ELD); requirements for the mandatory use of these devices by drivers currently required to prepare HOS records of duty status; requirements concerning HOS supporting documents; and measures to address concerns about harassment resulting from the mandatory use of ELDs.

A large number of comments on this proposed rule show disagreement with its purported safety benefits and concern with the costs associated with these devices. In comments by United Parcel Service, the company notes that roughly 12,000 of the 40,000 trucks that it operates that would be subject to this rule already have onboard recording devices. However, the company also notes that to upgrade those devices to be compliant with the new rule, it would cost roughly $300 per unit. Additionally, UPS estimates the cost to install onboard recording devices in the remainder of its fleet would be $4,226 per unit. Considering these estimates are representative of a large purchasing power causes deeper concern.

This proposed rule is scheduled to clear OMB and be published as a Final Rule by September 30. Docket #: FMCSA-2010-0167 RIN: 2126-AB20

Commercial Motor Vehicle Speed Limiters
Stemming from petitions from the American Trucking Association, Road Safe America and a group of nine very large motor carriers, FMCSA is proposing federal motor vehicle safety standards to require speed limiters on trucks. The proposal was originally posted in the Federal Register in 2011, but has been delayed 21 times since then. The original proposal would require vehicle manufacturers to install a tamper-resistant device to limit the speed of trucks with a gross vehicle weight rating greater than 26,000 pounds to no more than 68 mph.

Most recently, Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx was asked about the 21 delays in a Senate Subcommittee hearing. Foxx told Maine Senator Susan Collins that “there is a Notice of Proposed Rule Making that is working its way through the department
currently and I’m looking forward to getting that out as soon as possible – hopefully not later than the fall.”  Federal Register No. 2010-33057