Creating a Strong Safety Program for Your Fleet Drivers

While most operations with an automotive or trucking fleet focus on safety, few businesses are actually monitoring their drivers to make sure they are adhering to the company’s rules, a new study has found.

Many companies only pull reports on their drivers’ records on an annual basis, which means they miss important developments like a DUI or a few moving violations that will increase the cost of insuring them.

In fact, 70% of companies with fleets do not even monitor their drivers and 60% don’t have a safety program in place, according to the study by SambaSafety, a firm that provides background screening and driver safety records for companies.

The key to having a successful driver safety program in place requires management buy-in and a company-wide culture focused on safety that encompasses not only a company’s fleet drivers, but also anybody in the operation that may drive their personal vehicles on occasional company business.

SambaSafety recommends:

Motivating staff to be safer – The company advises against just issuing warnings like “slow down” and “put away the phone,” and instead focusing on what’s at stake if they don’t. Instead of numbers and checklists, make a presentation that lets them think in terms of their well-being, or even loss of life, for the best response.

Providing strong safety leadership – Creating a safety culture requires leadership to model the behaviors that all employees should adopt.

Not just focusing on fleet drivers – Any employees that use their vehicles for work must also be part of the training and they should know that you expect the same safe behavior of anybody you employ that drives.

Drive home the point that an employer can be responsible for anything that happens when employees are conducting company business, even if they are running to the office supply store for you.

Being consistent – Just because you have a safety policy, it may not be enough to get you off the hook if one of your drivers causes an accident. Companies can be held responsible if they do not have proactive intervention policies and detailed documentation.

Using data to your advantage — Collecting data on your employees’ driving habits can greatly improve your ability to make sure you have a safe fleet of drivers. And the best way to do that is through continuous driver monitoring.

“The right data can help employers accurately reward those who are doing well, too, and securely keep up with disciplinary actions toward those who are missing the mark,” SambaSafety says in its report.
Do you have a strong safety policy for your drivers? The company recommends that you ask the following of your safety program:

  • Was the policy established with input from key stakeholders?
  • Has it been clearly communicated to all employees?
  • Does it tie in to company goals and mission?
  • Do employees receive regular reminders and updates about safety policies?
  • Is it aspirational and values-based rather than simply disciplinary?
  • Is there complete buy-in from top management?
  • Is the policy uniformly enforced?
  • Is there a fair, diverse, professional board for incident review?
  • Is data properly used to increase compliance?
  • Is it time for an update?

Does Business Interruption Insurance Cover Partial Shutdown?

What happens if your business suffers property damage or a supply chain disruption and is forced to stop operations either fully or partially? Will your insurance cover the work stoppage or slowdown?
It is important to understand how your insurance can protect you from the resulting financial loss. In addition to potential recovery for property damage from your property/casualty policy, you may be able to recover lost revenue from your business interruption coverage. If your operations are disrupted – completely or partially – the language of your policy will determine if, and for how long, your insurance company will cover the loss.
In the best scenario, your insurance should cover income loss not only when operations are completely shuttered, but also when your business is partially suspended.
Historically, many business interruption provisions required a “necessary suspension” of operations. The problem is that these older policies and forms did not define “suspension” or state whether a complete shutdown was necessary. Courts have wrestled with this issue, and have often come down on the side of a “complete shutdown.”
The precedent in California is the case of Buxbaum vs. AETNA Life & Cas. Co., which held that a “necessary suspension” of operations “connotes a temporary, but complete, cessation of activity.”
In this case, the court said that business interruption coverage for a law firm was not triggered because there was no complete cessation of operations when evidence showed that its attorneys continued to bill hours following a water damage incident in its offices.
The key here is that if “suspension” is not defined in a policy, the policyholder will likely not recover lost income due to a partial cessation or slowdown of business.
The catch-22 in this type of interpretation is that the business interruption policy will usually include a clause obligating the policyholder to mitigate losses.

Slowdown coverage in new forms
In light of other states’ court decisions that were similar to the California case, the industry has developed new forms that also cover slowdowns.
One such form is the Insurance Service Office-approved “Business Income (and Extra Expense) Coverage Form.” It was updated to define “suspension” as “[t]he slowdown or cessation of your business activities.”
Fortunately, most insurance companies use forms that affirmatively state the policy “shall cover the loss resulting from complete or partial interruption of business.”
If you are renewing your business interruption policy or purchasing a new policy, ask us if the form the insurer uses includes the above language. If not, we can find an insurer that includes such wording.
That specific language can ensure that you get paid for any lost business income due to a partial shutdown of your operations.