The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted the routines of many trucking companies nationwide. While some have found opportunity in the outbreak, others have seen their business slow to a crawl.
Reliance Partners’ President Chad Eichelberger discussed COVID-19’s impact on the commercial trucking industry and how trucking companies should pay close attention to their insurance policies with FreightWaves CEO Craig Fuller on the FreightWavesTV show, “Fuller Speed Ahead.”
Reliance Partners is one of the nation’s fastest growing insurance companies that specializes in risk management solutions for the transportation and logistics sectors. Founded in 2009, the Chattanooga, Tennessee-based insurance brokerage and consultancy also serves the hospitality and manufacturing industries.
Unlike other industries, the coronavirus crisis has’t shut down trucking entirely. Truckers have joined the ranks with medical professionals and first responders as heroes of the outbreak by helping keep America’s stores stocked with food and much needed supplies.
In fact, many refrigerated van drivers have found their services to be in extremely high demand. Other drivers, however, have seen decline. Eichelberger noted that fuel and auto-haulers have struggled greatly because consumers aren’t buying gasoline and automobile manufacturing has ceased production for the most part.
While some trucking companies try to stick it out, Eichelberger said that others are testing their luck by switching to reefer trailers.
“With some of our flat-bed hauling customers, we’ve had to modify their cargo policies because they’ve leased a couple of refrigerated trailers,” Eichelberger said.
The trucking industry has become a critical lifeline during the state of emergency. Both federal and state governments have eased regulations in order to alleviate stress on the trucking sector.
For instance, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has issued an emergency declaration temporarily relieving motor carriers and drivers from certain Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations.
Additionally, Eichelberger said that some markets and states have considered moratoriums on insurance companies from canceling the policies of motor carriers because of their inability to make payments during the crisis.
“It’s in everybody’s best interest to see these trucking companies stay in business and continue to operate,” Eichelberger said. “I think that’s what we’re seeing – whether it’s mandated by law or the insurance companies looking to help the truckers.”
For example, Louisiana has issued Emergency Rule 40, placing a moratorium on policy cancellations and non-renewals for policyholders in the state through May 12.
“I don’t advise every trucking company to take advantage of grace periods because you’re going to have to eventually pay, but it is something that struggling trucking companies can consider to get some relief and be able to catch up on payments,” said Eichelberger.
April is shaping up to be another month in which the U.S. will have to hunker down. Eichelberger advises trucking companies to carefully consider their strategies for the coming months. He suggests carriers be mindful of their mix of freight and insurance expenses as well as making sure that they have the proper resources to take care of drivers.
Eichelberger also recommends trucking companies with upcoming policy renewals to consider options most suitable to the currently fluctuating market conditions.
“Reliance Partners is happy to give anyone feedback on the policy that they’re on. When we calculate risk, we look at the size and growth of your fleet, your radius of operation, where you’re domiciled, and of course safety factors,” Eichelberger said. “Generally speaking, we can look at an account in a few seconds and have a good idea of whether you’re in the market with the most appropriate fit or the most flexible from a financial standpoint.”