Being one of the top three most dangerous industries, logging insurance is a must-have for every logging business. One key type of insurance in this industry is log truck insurance.
The number of fatalities in trucking accidents in agriculture, fishing, and forestry (AFF) exceeds the rate for all other sectors of the industry combined. Between 2010 and 2018 crash records found that Louisiana, Arkansas, and Texas have the most logging truck crashes.
Texas has the most severe crashes. This includes overturned vehicles, failure to yield right-of-way, speeding, and lack of restraint.
Log truck insurance rates are higher than they are for basic commercial truck insurance. We are going to explore the reasons this type of insurance is more expensive than other types of trucking insurance.
Unique Risks for Log Haulers
When a truck is transporting a load of logs, it is like no other freight on the road. The federal government limits the total weight to 80,000 pounds on interstate highways. This varies with state limitations, which apply to truckers transporting logs on state roads.
Because of the heaviness of logs, a collision increases the risk of fatalities when an accident occurs. Passengers in an automobile are more likely to suffer catastrophic injuries.
This unusual load is also more at risk of tipping over if the weight distribution shifts and becomes uneven during transportation. Because of the bumpy, uneven country backroads that begin the route, there is an increase in tipping risk. This type of load also has an increased risk of jack-knifing, causing injury to the driver.
Factors That Impact Log Truck Insurance Rates
Every timber hauling operation is different, and various factors impact your premiums. Most insurance companies consider the following when calculating premiums:
- Driving record of log hauler
- If the log hauler has a minimum of three (3) years as a CDL
- If you have a written safety plan
- If you follow OSHA log loading guidelines
- SAFER out of service percentage
- Whether you haul pulpwood from the field or finished lumber from the mill
- The age and value of your truck impact your physical damage premiums
- Number of years in business
The OSHA log loading guidelines require each log to be loaded onto the truck bed in an orderly manner and secured tightly 1910.266(h)(6)(iv). It also states that the entire load needs to be positioned to prevent loss or slippage during the transportation or handling 1910.266(h)(6)(v).
The operator of the transport vehicle is responsible for making sure every tie-down is secure before transporting. They must also check and tighten the tie downs if there is any reason to believe they have become loose or the load is shifting, 1910.266(h)(7).
The Safety and Fitness Electronic Records (SAFER) system provides a company snapshot of a company’s cargo, size, identification, inspection, and out-of-service summary. This includes crash data and their safety rating.
Recommended Coverage in Addition to Liability
Because of the high risk of damage to other vehicles and their occupants, high liability coverage is recommended for all logging haulers. The higher the net worth of your company, the more liability you need to protect your assets from potential lawsuits.
According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, there are about 288,000 freight carriers that must meet the federal liability insurance minimum of $750,000 coverage. Of those, 98% carry liability insurance of at least $1 million dollars.
There is a proposal to enter an amendment increasing the minimum liability coverage from $750,000 to $2 million. Part of the reason for this proposal is FMCA's concern about the increasing dollar amount of jury verdicts.
The existing minimum established in 1980 has never undergone an inflation adjustment. It is now considered inadequate for medical cost coverage in catastrophic accidents.
Coverage Needs Beyond Liability
In addition to liability coverage you need to consider the following options:
- Cargo—for the logs in case of theft and damage, including fire
- Chain, binder, and tarp coverage—coverage for theft, vandalism, fire, and damage in a rollover or collision
- Collision—for collision with another vehicle, a stationary object, or a rollover
- Comprehensive—for truck and trailer in the event of fire, vandalism, or theft
- Debris removal—the cost of removing logs from the road after a collision, rollover or log-spill
- Downtime—coverage if you are unable to work due to damage to your truck
- Loan/lease/gap—in the event the truck becomes totaled or stolen and you owe more on the loan than the truck is worth, this covers the difference
- Medical payments—for drivers and passengers medical payments on injuries they suffer while driving the truck
- Property damage—damage to drivers or another person’s property they are responsible for
- Towing and storage—for towing and storage on the truck, trailer, and equipment that suffers damage
With injuries resulting from 79% of log truck accidents, in comparison to 56% from all other heavy truck accidents, sufficient insurance coverage is critical to your business. An accident with a logging truck results in fatalities twice as often as with other heavy trucks. Fatalities have higher insurance settlements.
Hauling logs is a crucial part of the logging industry. Businesses need to give as much attention to the transportation side of their business as they do to their operations in the woods.
How to Reduce Log Truck Insurance Costs
Work with a knowledgeable log insurance company. They understand the difference between a long logger truck and trucks working strictly in the field. Their knowledge of your needs will help you get the appropriate insurance coverage for your business.
Make sure you hire drivers with a good driving record and CDL experience. Make sure all logging trucks, trailers, and loaders are properly maintained. Have a written safety plan for all operations in your business and make sure every worker knows and follows safety procedures.
When obtaining quotes always inquire if there are ways to receive discounts. You may be able to package coverage for your company to obtain overall discounts.
Get Affordable Logging Insurance
Finding affordable log truck insurance is easy when you contact the Hummel Group. We are an independent insurance agency that specializes in insurance for all areas of the lumber industry. Our logging insurance agents are master loggers themselves and have more knowledge and understanding of business operations than 99% of other agents in the market.
Call Hummel Group at 330-355-3231 or request a quote online. In addition to log truck insurance rates, we can assist you with insurance for all areas of your lumber industry, including loggers, sawmills, land clearing, and more. Call us today!