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Northampton, MA 01060

Newsletter

18Sep. 2014

Good Drivers Wanted

Like many fields, insurance is a combination of art and science.

Personal auto insurance in Massachusetts tends to the scientific side. Personal auto insurers require that all drivers be listed on a vehicle’s policy. They assess premiums on a host of known criteria including age, driving experience, driving history, vehicle make and color. The state specifies the points and penalties for infractions. Insurers can deny coverage if an unlisted driver gets into an accident.

Commercial vehicle insurance, on the other hand, has an artistic bent. Underwriters do not require you to list all your drivers on the policy, but will ask for a list of them each year at renewal time to check out each driver’s record. In particular they look at speeding violations and accidents. In my experience, the premium setting process is very subjective, with no black and white answers.

Once in a while, an insurance company will object to a driver and will exclude that driver in writing on your policy.

What characterizes an objectionable driver?

Informally I have found that one violation in three years is acceptable, but more than one can be a problem. Accidents are a bigger issue than speeding tickets, especially multiple accidents. A DUI within the past five years is a major red flag.

Age and experience do factor in to some degree. If you have young driver who has a couple of violations it is more likely to be a problem than for a 45-year-old with a couple of recent violations but with a clean long-term history.

Though the calculation of commercial vehicle insurance premiums is less well defined than that of personal auto insurance, the general rule is the same: having drivers with clean driving histories will keep your premium down.

A list of marginal drivers will erode your negotiation strength. And if you stick with questionable drivers, you could see higher rates or at the extreme, you may find it hard to get coverage.

To keep your premium down and to protect your fleet, get a copy of a job candidate’s driving record before hiring them to drive in any capacity. Maintain records of any driving incidents on the job and note anything you hear about personal driving incidents.

Please call or email me if you have any questions on your commercial vehicle policy.

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