Insurance Shenanigans

What is part of the daily pretrip requirements that is rarely checked by the driver? I know that’s a trick question because not many people do a proper pretrip inspection.

When was the last time you checked your insurance card? Or anything in your insurance/licensing binder? Or on your trailer if you’re pulling one?

I’ll tell you that even something obvious like an annual safety decal on a trailer can be missed very easily. I’ve done that. Glance at it as I’m walking by, think I saw it current and it wasn’t. I’ve also seen inspectors do that as well so it’s not just drivers.

Here’s an Ontario crisis at the moment,and I don’t use the term crisis lightly. It’s such a problem that MPP Guy Bourgouin from Mushkegowuk-James Bay introduced a motion to address this issue.

Insurance. Just that word can send shivers down the spine of smaller carriers in Ontario and to a lesser degree in the rest of Canada.

At a press conference at the end of April, Debbie Paquin of Laflamme Trucking in Hearst related how her insurance costs went from $2800 to over $6000 in 2018,to now she has to pay $15000 for facility insurance to insure her son. Her son, who grew up around trucks and spent $10000 to get his own license through a reputable company. They won’t insure him because he doesn’t have experience. Excuse me?

Angela Price went through a program from the government to get her license in 2014. She now has 5 years experience and can’t find a job.

Why? No “experience”. The companies she worked for didn’t report to the insurance provider that she was their driver because they didn’t want to pay the high cost. She had no idea until the company she was working for got bought out and she had to reapply to drive the same truck as before. They couldn’t hire her. No longer is your drivers abstract or logbooks proof of driving for these insurers. They want A Letter of Experience from the previous insurer before they’ll insure her.

She has companies wanting her to work, but can’t pay the exorbitant fees.

There are many drivers in this predicament. There’s even more that aren’t aware of what’s happening.

If you’re a Driver Inc driver (no taxes taken off your cheque) what do you think your chances are that you’re insured? Laughable. Except its not funny.

Angela closed off her comments with “a driver who left their box in the air and hits a bridge has a better chance of being insured”. Wait.. What???

This is why. Companies play a game like this.

They will only insure “some” of their trucks and drivers who are working. They will claim that only “some” trucks are on the road that day by updating the insurer of which unit numbers.

Drivers are instructed to not give their insurance card to any officer until they have called in to dispatch. Dispatch will then let the insurer know that they “forgot” to include this unit on the daily list. Oh, and by the way, that vehicle is currently being inspected or was involved in an incident, like hitting a bridge.

Now, the insurance company is aware of this driver. So their experience may be bad, but they’ll be on the list. Hence they could go to another company and get hired because they are known to the insurance company.

Angela kept her safety record clear, which ended up hurting her employment. Isn’t that ironic? 5 companies want her to drive. That’s how good she is but now she’s looking to move west to another province to get work.

I have run against this type of criminal behaviour time and time again in trucking.

This one in Ontario is one of the worst I’ve ever seen. Small companies are hiding employees. Large companies are taking advantage of lesser experienced workers. People who grew up in the industry like Debbie’s son are held hostage. There are thousands of small companies trying to survive in Ontario alone.

Thankfully an MPP like Bourgouin has listened to his constituents and others like Angela and has brought this matter forward. Angela has been fighting this for over 3 years. Companies have quietly stopped their operations.

It’s time to fix this. It’s time to stop beating each other up over rates and get back to customer service. It’s beyond time to act and drive safely