CHP says semi truck lost brakes, leading to 20-car pileup

Police say that brake failure is to blame for a massive fiery pileup crash in Santa Cruz, California, this morning.

The crash happened just before 10 a.m. in the northbound lanes of Highway 1, according to CBS San Francisco.

The California Highway Patrol (CHP) says that a truck that was fully loaded with clay or dirt was traveling between 30 to 40 m.p.h. when it collided with stopped traffic, causing a pileup crash involving approximately 20 other vehicles. Police say that the truck was still traveling at a high rate of speed when it “hit the last car at full force, broke the wheels off the truck and came to a stop.”

Several vehicles including the truck caught fire after the crash.

At least nine people were hurt in the crash, including the truck driver. At least two people are listed in critical condition.

Witnesses told CHP that they saw the truck’s brakes smoking prior to the crash.

CHP Sgt. Grant Bowles blamed the pileup crash on brake failure. He said, “the preliminary investigation is he lost his brakes and came up to stopped traffic and he struck the center median before plowing through 20 cars — going 1,000 feet.”

“With all the carnage, this is one of the worst ones I’ve seen. Thankfully, no one was killed,” said Bowles.

CHP will be investigating whether the truck was overweight.

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Vermont fueling and paving industries considering “sharing” seasonal drivers in face of “driver shortage”

The paving and fueling industries in Vermont say that, in the face of a “truck driver shortage,” they may begin loaning each other their truck driving employees.

The paving and fueling industries have opposite seasons, summer and winter, leaving many truck drivers without a job during their industry’s “off” months. Because of this and the ever-looming “truck driver shortage,” fuel and paving executives in the state of Vermont have begun considering the concept of “trading” drivers, eliminating the truck driver shortage and keeping the drivers from going without a job for half the year.

“Because of the seasonality of Vermont and these two industries, there might be an opportunity here where someone who may be laid off in the summertime or the winter time, a way that they can work year round,” said Matt Cota, Executive Director of the Vermont Fuel Dealers Association.

Trucking companies and contractors sat down on Wednesday, September 26th to discuss road bumps in this possible plan such as the hazmat endorsement required to haul fuel, which only 1,200 drivers of the state’s 21,000 possess, reported My Champlain Valley News.

“During the season, construction season, we’re short on operators, and the fuel industry and a couple of other industries are heavy during that time,” said executive vice president of Associated General Contractors, Richard Wobby Jr.

Some trucking industry leaders also point out that some drivers may be hesitant to participate in the “driver swap” as many of them are able to collect unemployment during the off season, making them less inclined to work throughout the year.

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PMTA Partners With AllyHealth, Offers Telehealth Benefits for Association Members

Earlier today, the Pennsylvania Motor Truck Association announced that it will utilize AllyHealth as its Exclusive Partner for association members, offering telehealth and wellness communications.

According to the Pennsylvania Motor Truck Association (PMTA), it plans to use AllyHealth to better accommodate drivers and offer healthcare solutions that work around their careers and lifestyles.

“The Healthcare system today doesn’t accommodate the schedule of truck drivers,” said Tim Hoffman, Director of Membership for PMTA. “It’s difficult to find a doctor who accepts walk-ins. As an alternative, many truck drivers opt to go untreated. Our members have been asking for a healthcare option, and this is it. We’re excited for our members to be able to start taking advantage of AllyHealth so they can have 24/7/365 access to doctors.”

Sources at AllyHeath report that partnering with the PMTA will allow the provider to offer competitive benefits to members of the association and ensure that drivers have health care access that aligns better with their needs.

More information on the partnership as well as the PMTA may be found at the association’s site.

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FMCSA: exemptions will no longer be required for truckers with insulin-treated diabetes

Truck drivers with properly controlled insulin-treated diabetes will no longer be required to obtain an exemption from the Federal Motor Carrier Administration thanks to a revision of the current federal regulations.

The change in rules was announced Tuesday, September 18th and will go into effect on November 19th of this year.

Commercial drivers with properly controlled diabetes will now be able to obtain a Medical Examiner’s Certificate and keep it for up to 12 months by allowing their personal doctor (the one who manages the driver’s diabetes) to fill out the Insulin-Treated Diabetes Mellitus Assessment Form indicating that the driver keeps up with a stable insulin regimen and maintains proper control of their condition. The form would then be turned in to the Medical Examiner, who decides if they agree with the driver’s doctor, and the truck driver would be given the all-clear to cross state lines in their commercial vehicle.

The FMCSA says that this change in procedure “will eliminate the exemption program that currently requires individuals with ITDM to incur recurring costs to renew and maintain their exemptions. FMCSA estimates this will save the nearly 5,000 individuals with ITDM that currently have exemptions more than $5 million per year more than what they would endure under the exemption program. The final rule will also save new ITDM exemption applicants and their associated motor carriers approximately $215,000 annually in opportunity and compliance costs related with the exemption program’s waiting period.”

The FMCSA itself is also expected to save $1 million per year now that it will no longer be administering the diabetes exemption program.

“This final action delivers economic savings to affected drivers and our agency, and streamlines processes by eliminating unnecessary regulatory burdens and redundancy,” said FMCSA Administrator Raymond P. Martinez.

“It’s a win-win for all parties involved.”

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ATRI Releases Findings of New Report Detailing Trucking Costs

Earlier today, the American Transportation Research Institute announced the findings of its 2018 update to the Analysis of the Operational Costs of Trucking report.

Utilizing data provided by motor carriers throughout the country, the report looks at trucking costs from 2008 through 2017 in order to provide the industry with a benchmarking tool as well as government agencies with data for infrastructure improvement analyses.

“ATRI’s Operational Costs research is such a powerful tool for fleets of all sizes,” said Dean Kaplan, K-Limited Carrier CEO. “Better understanding how our costs stack up against our industry peers enables us to implement operational efficiencies and improve our bottom line.”

The ATRI reports that with a strong economy in 2017, costs per mile among motor carriers increased by nearly six percent, as did driver wages increasing for a fifth consecutive year.

The report also brings into consideration fuel prices increasing as well as more sophisticated truck models driving up costs for repair and maintenance as well as new purchases of trucks.

Additionally, reports the ATRI, the 2018 report includes a new section entitled “Industry Sector in Focus” analyzing operational costs for operators of tank fleets.

Interested parties may view the report in full at TruckingResearch.org.

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Seeman Holtz solidifies Florida presence with new acquisition

Seeman Holtz Property & Casualty has acquired Boca Raton, FL-based JEM Insurance Services.

JEM Insurance Services has been in business for more than 13 years, serving the South Florida region. The insurance agency offers personal lines business services including auto, home, and personal property. Considered one of Florida’s fastest growing insurance agencies, JEM is headed by Bryan Moura Santos.

A release said that the acquisition of JEM Insurance Services “will strengthen Seeman Holtz Property & Casualty’s foothold in their home state of Florida.”

“JEM Insurance Services is another example of a high-quality agency that we look to acquire. It’s even more special because it happened to be around the corner from our corporate offices,” said Seeman Holtz Property & Casualty president Marshal Seeman.

“We are happy to have the JEM service team join our family and look forward to building upon their great work,” added Seeman Holtz Property & Casualty executive vice-president and chief marketing officer Eric Holtz.

In July, Seeman Holtz also acquired another Florida-based insurer – commercial insurance specialist Lakes Insurance Group. In that same month, the company also snapped up Transway Insurance Agency in Texas – an agency that focuses on business and trucking insurance.

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Hub snaps up Michigan-based agency

Hub International has announced that it has acquired the assets of The Right Choice Insurance Agency, which also operates as Woodward Insurance Group. Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed.

Based in Warren, Mich., Woodward Insurance is a full-service commercial and personal insurance agency. Woodward Insurance will join Hub Midwest. Company CEO David James will report to Caroly Hofstee, president of Hub Midwest East.

Woodward Insurance is the latest of several acquisitions Hub has made in recent months. In May, Hub acquired The Barnett Group, a Tennessee-based employee benefits firm, and Easy Truck Insurance Services, a California-based brokerage. The same month, it acquired Kelly King Insurance Services, a California-based property and casualty agency. In April, it acquired BK-JET Group, a brokerage based in Washington State, and Canada-based ES3 Insurance Services.

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Data helping insurers, government crack down on chameleon trucking companies

A few weeks ago, WOOD TV 8 in Michigan broadcast an investigative report into what it said was a “chameleon” trucking company that had actually been reborn several times, it alleged, to avoid unsatisfactory safety ratings.

That story generated local interest in so-called chameleon carriers, and produced enough discussion that lawyer Steven Gursten of Michigan Auto Law published a blog post on the topic.

“Lawyers who specialize in helping people injured in truck accidents have known about unsafe trucking companies known as ‘chameleon carriers’ for years,” he wrote. “These are truck companies and busing outfits that try to hide from their dismal safety records and often deadly crash history by shutting down and then re-opening under different carrier names. This allows them to game the system and hide safety records by obtaining a new name and a new USDOT number.

“Sadly, these unsafe trucking companies have caused an inordinate number of preventable wrecks, but until recently there has been very little that federal and state regulators could do to stop this dangerous practice,” he added.

Chameleon carriers have been around for a long time, as most in the industry know. Most are carriers that have been given out-of-service orders by FMCSA and the owner simply creates a new name, gets new insurance, and fills out the paperwork for the new company.

According to the WOOd TV report, FMCSA data shows that in 2005, about 1.5% of all new carrier authority applications had “chameleon traits,” meaning that may be a chameleon company. By 2010, that percent had increased slightly to 1.7%.

Put in perspective, in 2010, FMCSA received 65,631 applications, so about 1,100 carriers approved for authority may have been born out a company that had previously been placed out of service.

In 2012, the Government Accountability Office issued a report that urged FMCSA to expand efforts to identify freight carriers evading detection. It wrote:

“FMCSA does not determine the total number of chameleon carriers within the motor carrier industry. Such a determination would require FMCSA to investigate each of the tens of thousands of new applicants that register annually and then complete a legal process for some of these suspected chameleon carriers, an effort for which FMCSA does not have sufficient resources. Rather, FMCSA’s attempt to identify chameleon carriers among new applicants, referred to as the vetting program, is limited to bus companies (passenger carriers) and movers (household goods carriers). These two relatively small groups, representing only 2 percent of all new applicants in 2010, were selected because they present consumer protection and relatively high safety risks. Through the vetting program, FMCSA conducts electronic matching of applicant registration data against data on existing carriers and investigates each application from these two small groups, but does not determine whether all other new applicants, including freight carriers, may be attempting to assume a new identity.”

For truly safe trucking companies, chameleon carriers are a problem. While they may not directly impact an operation, a chameleon carrier that shouldn’t be on the road can lead to an impact on overall insurance premiums for all carriers as that risk and increased claim payouts are absorbed into the marketplace.

GAO found that chameleon carriers were responsible for 3,561 injuries and 217 deaths from 2005 to 2010.

Fortunately, data is providing both FMCSA and insurers the chance to root out these bad players before they ever return to the road.

“They are able to track even down to the VIN number of vehicles historically, allowing you to identify chameleon carriers,” Andrew Ladebauche, CEO of Reliance Partners, told FreightWaves in an earlier interview. “We’re able to track that all the way down to say that Company X that was shut down in 2015, now those trucks are being used by Carrier Y in 2017,” which allows an insurer to dig deeper and determine if that new carrier may pose a risk or is operating illegally.

FMCSA, which the GAO report found to only be checking bus companies and household goods movers, has taken steps in recent years to crack down. It’s issued two separate rules and worked with the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration to develop a data-and-web-based interface to help identify carriers. Known as the Hazmat Intelligence Portal (HIP), the program proved successful in identifying chameleon carriers during testing.

“The resulting prototype method was named ARCHI, for Application Review and CHameleon Investigation,” wrote Sid Nair, senior director of transport and compliance at Teletrac Navman in a company blog posting last summer. “Its process is to first compare each new carrier to older carriers for similarities in name, ownership, and other criteria. Each new carrier then gets a score based on how closely it matched older businesses. Those that score above a certain cut-off are then evaluated for motive—did the older company declare bankruptcy? Did it have outstanding safety violations or fines? Was it previously placed out of order or was it involved in a serious crash?”

The proliferation of data use in trucking is now making possible the opportunity for FMCSA and insurers to identify chameleon carriers, and that is leading to safer roads and lower premiums.

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Global Commercial Insurance Prices Rise for 3rd Consecutive Quarter: Marsh

Global commercial insurance prices rose in the second quarter of 2018, marking the third consecutive quarter of increases, according to Marsh’s “Global Insurance Market Index.”

These average increases were driven by property insurance, which continued to be affected by 2017’s catastrophe losses, as well as financial and professional lines, said Marsh’s quarterly market index report. The report measures commercial insurance premium price changes at renewal, covering the world’s major insurance markets and comprising 90 percent of Marsh’s premium.

Globally, property insurance prices increased 2.3 percent, on average, during the second quarter, which was slightly less than that observed in the previous two quarters, the report said.

Financial and professional line prices increased 3.3 percent on average, with much of the increase due to directors and officers (D&O) insurance prices in multiple regions.

Casualty prices declined an average of 1.4 percent around the globe, continuing a trend of annual rate declines, stretching back to 2013,

Australia again had the largest price increases, at an average of 13 percent.

While average prices trended up overall (driven primarily by the UK and Australia), pricing decreased slightly in Continental Europe and Asia.

“The global property insurance market continues to be impacted by last year’s losses, and we are now seeing increases in financial and professional lines pricing in several regions,” said Dean Klisura, president, Global Placement and Specialties at Marsh. “However, overall pricing is generally stable across all lines of business and market capacity remains strong.”

The report also covered regional trends, including:

  • United States. Insurance prices in the U.S. were flat in the second quarter of 2018, following three-plus years of composite decreases. Average property rates in the U.S. increased 3 percent, the third consecutive quarter of low-single digit increases, driven by catastrophe-exposed risks and large layered programs. More than 50 percent of property clients experienced price increases. Average U.S. cyber insurance prices increased in the quarterly index by 2.1 percent.
  • United Kingdom. Average composite insurance prices in the UK rose for the third consecutive quarter, a Q2 increase of 0.8 percent. Prices increased, on average, by 5 percent across financial and professional lines, driven by increases in D&O and professional indemnity. Property pricing decreased, on average, for the second straight quarter. All major casualty line coverages saw a decrease in average pricing for a second quarter.
  • Continental Europe. Composite insurance prices in Continental Europe decreased 1.5 percent, on average, in the second quarter, counter to the global trend. While competition for good quality risks drove price decreases, most reductions were modest. Casualty rates dropped by 1.4 percent in Q2, which slowed from the prior quarter when rates dropped by 1.6 percent. Property prices declined by 1.3 percent, after two consecutive quarters of price increases.
  • Australia. Average composite prices increased 13 percent, more than any other region, with increases seen across all major product lines. Financial and professional liability prices rose significantly with the largest price increases seen for D&O coverages as a result of the challenging claims environment and reduced capacity. Financial institutions prices rose 20-25 percent, on average, following several large losses and an ongoing Banking Royal Commission review. Casualty pricing increased in the low-to-high single digits for all product lines.
  • Asia. Average composite prices in Asia declined in the second quarter by 0.4 percent, albeit at a slower rate than observed in the last three years. (Composite prices in Q1 2018 dropped by 1.8 percent). Average property insurance rates decreased by 0.4 percent, compared to a drop of 1.4 percent in the Q1 2018. Casualty pricing decreased in the quarter (0.5 percent), a lower rate than those reported since early 2014. (The Q1 drop was 2.7 percent).
  • Latin America. Average composite insurance prices in Latin America increased for the second quarter by 0.3 percent, compared to Q1’s increase of 0.8 percent. Overall, LatAm’s Q2 casualty price increases moderated from prior quarters with average prices rising by 1.6 percent, compared with 4.3 percent for Q1. The report said casualty price increases across Latin America are tied primarily to auto rate corrections, with rate hikes seen for eight consecutive quarters. Financial and professional liability rates saw an acceleration of increase at 3.2 percent, driven largely by D&O losses.

Source: Marsh

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Insureds misusing their personal vehicles for commercial work? They’re going to get caught

A technology data company is helping carriers catch out insureds who are misusing their policies by using personal vehicles for commercial work.

Alex Young, vice president of risk solutions at Digital Recognition Network (DRN), said the company has contracts with 11 carriers and is in talks with 15 more – which would make up 70% of the vehicle insurance market in the United States.

The company’s data recognition service has built up more than six billion data points of car license plate sightings across the country. With 2,000 car-mounted license plate readers circling the country’s streets non-stop, all day, every day, using license plate-recognition technology, the company can spot when identified vehicles are being used inappropriately.

“Every insurance carrier knows they have this problem,” Young said. “Many believe the problem is minor, and, in any case, up to this point there has been no effective way of discovering the issue. When insurance carriers see the results of DRN’s [data recording], they are generally surprised by the size of the problem.

“We have had carriers with as much as 40% of their ‘at risk’ VINs showing signs of commercial use. The adoption of this product to eradicate commercial use from the personal lines insurance carriers has been rapid.”

Young said a carrier provides a list of VIN numbers it considers “at risk” for commercial use – such as Transits, Sprinters, Econolines, large pickups – and then DRN can pull from its database multiple shots of those vehicles in various situations they’ve been spotted.

“We discover the commercial use by reviewing our pictures gathered from license plate recognition sightings and look for commercial attributes such as signage, ladders, ladder racks, tools, equipment, commercial trailers, etc.,” Young said.

“We look for vehicles that have been insured for personal use and look for indicators that they are used for commercial purposes. The reason this is important is that the risk is significantly different and can lead to losses that are not reflected in the premium charged.”

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