Top 10 Commercial Truck Insurance Companies
For any transportation and logistics company their insurance rates are going to be a large portion of their overhead expenses. Insurance rates can eat away at profits so trucking companies always want to know who the top 10 commercial truck insurance companies are in the market. Many times you’ll find that the top 5 don’t really change that much, but in any event, we wanted to bring up several insurance companies that you should be aware of.
Remember, every carrier has their own appetite and risk profiles that they are going after so just because they may not be a great fit for your company doesn’t mean they may not be a fit for another. Just like renting a house vs owning a house, their is a time and place for both. The companies mentioned below made it to the top 10 for several reasons which we’ll note for you.
Top 10 commercial truck insurance companies:
- Progressive – I know you may think we’re crazy for having them on the top 10 list, and surely we’ve heard it hundreds of times that our clients think Progressive is very expensive (and they can be) but what we’ve found is that new ventures who fit nicely within Progressive’s risk profile and don’t have any moving violations or accidents in the last three years actually get the lowest rates in the market from Progressive.
Not only that, but Progressive is the largest commercial truck insurer in America based on written premium. For trucking companies that are new ventures, they will be the most flexible in terms of vehicles and drivers they will accept. Do you have a dump truck and a reefer truck? How about a driver who just received his CDL today? Not a problem with Progressive. They also have great claims handling, provide discounts, and flexible payment options. Progressive is a great option for new ventures, though as you start growing you’ll find that they are less competitive in the market place.
2. AmTrust– with an A- rating, AmTrust is a very financial sound market in this space. Having more than $17B in assets, they are well capable of paying claims should your company need them. Their rates are extremely competitive for those that have tractors (as opposed to those that have pick-ups or box trucks) and they are reasonable if your company is looking to expand. For those that want to work the intermodal rail yards, AmTrust can accommodate you as well. They do not have an appetite for vehicles over 15 years of age or flatbeds.
3. Northland – they are one of the longest tenured commercial trucking insurers on the market. They have a strong appetite for “clean” risks and their premiums can get low if you have solid safety scores and drivers with stellar driving history. Not only do they have good premium but they 24/7 claims reporting, consultants for best practices, safety and training resources, and a safety investigations group to help keep your cargo safely on the road.
4. AIG – definitely an 800 lb gorilla in this space, AIG has resources, expertise and assets to back up their insureds. AIG can take on the largest of trucking companies ranging from 10 units up to thousands of units, and the larger the fleet, the more competitive they can get. They have a well vetted claims unit, a seasoned underwriting staff and benchmarking services specifically dedicated to a focus on safety and reducing the total cost of risk.
5. Berkshire Hathaway – rated 11th largest insurance company in the world by net premium written, this behemoth can creative ways to insure the most difficult trucking companies. They prefer trucking companies with 50+ units and can compete with the likes of AIG and other multinational insurers.
6. Berkley Prime – being a member of the Berkley family of insurance companies, they have a strong financial rating of A+ (Superior) by A.M. Best Company. They are among one of the largest commercial insurance companies in the country. Having the financial capacity to pay claims and the underwriting experience to price things adequately makes them a top carrier in the market, but they are also flexible enough to accept different vehicle types where others cannot – they will insure dry vans, flatbeds, intermodal, dump trucks, reefers, fuel haulers and log trucks just to name a few.
7. Canal – their history in the transportation space is impressive, over 80 consecutive years of insuring motor carriers and there is no end in sight. Though they have become selective over the years of who they will accept, their pricing is hard to beat. Whether you are a new venture or an established trucking firm, getting a quote from Canal will be a top contender.
8. Great West – a member of the Old Republic International Corporation has been aggressively going after business in the midwest. They have aggressive rates and over 60 years of insurance experience in the trucking space. As for their ability to pay claims, Great West is very well capitalized and AM Best has given them a rating of A+ (Superior). When Great West wants you as an insured, it’s hard to get you to move to another insurance company.
9. State National – this insurance company can be very opportunistic when they see a chance. If you’ve been in business for a few years, and have established a strong driving history then you’d probably be a good fit for State National. Though they aren’t much of a market for hotshots (most markets aren’t), they do have a very wide appetite and can be flexible on accepting drivers that don’t have a full 3 years of driving experience. They are very well capitalized with a rating of A (Excellent) and are a subsidiary of the Markel Corporation.
10. Travelers – a strong household name within the insurance space, Travelers by no means is last on our list as a quality carrier. Though they have a focus more for larger fleets, they have a state of the art cargo form which has aggressive pricing and broader coverage than nearly all forms available in the market. The liability is written through their subsidiary, Northland Insurance, who has built a reputation over the last 70 years of broad coverage, strong claims handling and competitive rates. Overall, Travelers is an excellent insurance company that is hard to beat.
Things to look for in an insurance carrier
Insurance companies are financial institutions that play a major role in our overall economic well being, but the truth of the matter is that not all insurance companies are created equal and some are not as reputable as others. Below are several elements to look for when selecting a strong insurance company:
- Financial stability (rating) – most consumers are not actuaries who can dive deep into the financial books of an insurance company, and even if you were, would you really want to analyze each one with such heavy scrutiny?
For that reason, third party agencies were created to measure the financial stability of an insurance company, specifically, they look for expected future liabilities, reliability of cash flow, an insurance companies pool of reserves, how high risk the pool of insureds are, the amount of reinsurance in place. As a short hand, these companies are given a letter rating from AM Best, such as A++, A- or even F. The higher the letter rating, the better the insurance company.
- Claims handling – a company’s claims handling ability is incredibly important in insurance. Insurance policies are nothing more than a promise to pay out a certain amount in the event of a claim, and if insurance companies become flakey every time a claim needs to be paid out, they will quickly lose their reputation. On the other hand, some insurance companies are known for “doing the right thing” when their policy didn’t require them to pay out. You also want to take into account a speedy payout as well as their ability to properly defend you when allegations are against you.
- Continuity – in the insurance world, companies enter and exit certain lines of coverage all the time. Today they’re here and tomorrow they’re gone, but an insurance company that has shown years of continuity (presence) in a market means a great deal. It means their actuaries understand how to price accordingly and have their finger on the pulse of where the market is headed, it means that they have strong claims handling ability and that they also have a strong underwriting team putting profitable policies on the books. Looking for carriers with long continuity is best!
- Flexibility – carriers that are extremely rigid and have no flexibility in them tend to snap much quicker and easier. Look for a carrier that knows and understands the market, but will also allow you to be flexible in your own business as adjustments need to be made. Some carriers will only allow dry freight hauling, as an example, but will not allow flat bed hauling.
- Premium – certainly the lowest premium isn’t everything, and in fact, it’s happened countless times where a company tries to “buy” the business but cannot sustain their rates because losses are too excessive. You certainly want competitive rates, but rates that are too low may not be around the next year when your policy renews or could be a sign that the coverage is extremely weak. In our agency, we believe that coverage can be more important than premium.
- Leniency for growth – trucking companies that are just starting out have to earn their good driving record with insurance companies, but sometimes new ventures want to really throttle their growth and add on new trucks and new drivers. You’ll come to find out that insurance companies aren’t fond of rapid growth, but the key is to find an insurance carrier that is balanced and will allow reasonable growth in the first two to three years. Though it’s certainly feasible to grow your trucking company to five or six trucks in the first few years, it’s not realistic to grow to five or six trucks in the first 3 months.
- Responsiveness – having a strong underwriting team can mean the difference between a great insurance company and a lousy one! Truth be told, many underwriters won’t take the time to dig deep and analyze things, if it’s too complex they’d rather just decline something than investigate it. You want to have a strong underwriting staff that understands your requests and has the ability to address them. They also have to be quick and responsive as the loads you wait for can hinge on their ability to respond favorably or not.
- Lines of coverage – do they offer everything you need? Agencies don’t like to place multiple policies with multiple carriers, it makes things so much more confusing and can lead to mistakes when making claims. Consider an insurance carrier who can write not only your trucking liability policy, but also your cargo, physical damage, general liability policy and umbrella. If you haul for the UIIA then consider a carrier who can also offer the GL, hired and non-owned auto and trailer interchange coverage.
Taking it a step further, see if they can offer workers compensation coverage and employer liability. You want to plan for your companies growth and as your company reaches new milestones, you don’t want your insurance company to stunt your growth. There are many reputable insurance carriers that meet the above criteria and will support you in your trucking journey.
Factors that impact your truck insurance rates
Certainly the more accidents and claims you’ve made on your policy, the higher of a risk you are to the insurance market. In turn, your rates will increase accordingly. Some carriers may charge a much higher surcharge than others. It’s always best practice to consider drivers who have a very clean record, don’t accept just any driver because their driving experience will ultimately determine your bottom line profits.
This score is measured using several key factors such as your unsafe driving score, crash indicator, out of service and vehicle maintenance records, controlled substances and alcohol and the overall driver fitness scores. The better your safety scores are, the more favorable you appear to underwriters, which in turn means lower insurance rates.
Credit scores are fairly recent rating element and can cause large premium jumps or savings from the base premium. Keeping your credit score as polished and as high as it can be would be the best for your trucking company. Don’t let a poor credit score cause your premium to sky rocket, or worse, get you declined all together.
Insurance companies want to see you gradually grow, seeing growth means you’re doing many things right in your business, but rapid growth makes them extremely nervous and can even cause reason for cancellation. When underwriters see rapid growth, they think that vehicles from another trucking company with poor claims history are being “shoved” into a new DOT number with a “clean” record. The fear is that the claims will soon follow the new company along with the unprofitability.
Connection to another DOT number
Similar to the point directly above, having a connection to another DOT number is a great way to get declined from an insurance carrier. Most times they don’t play with this, this is automatic cause for a declination.
Having clean drivers could be the single most important factor in keeping your insurance rates low. Drivers with clean MVRs typically have lower out of service records and much fewer claims. All of these coupled together means a lower premium for your trucking company.