Understanding Workers’ Compensation Coverages for Truckers

Strong Tie Insurance July 30, 2020 StrongtieInsurance

If you own or run a trucking company with employees, you need to consider workers’ compensation insurance. Not only is this coverage required by law in most states, but it’s also an excellent way to protect your business if an employee gets sick or injured on the job. Without workers’ compensation insurance, your company could face a severe lawsuit if something were to happen to one of your drivers.

Here’s what you need to know to understand California workers’ compensation insurance. 

What is Worker’s Compensation Insurance?

The coverage offered by workers compensation insurance provides benefits to employees who get sick or are injured on the job. Each state has its own laws regarding the benefit levels employees are eligible to receive.

In general, employees who are injured are eligible for four types of benefits:

  • Medical expenses
  • Lost wages, known as indemnity
  • Rehabilitation
  • Death Benefits

How Does it Work?

While many people might think of trucking as an easy job merely driving across the country, it’s actually one of the more dangerous careers. Knowing that your drivers are putting their lives at risk every time they hit the highway, it’s crucial to carry the appropriate insurance. If one of your employees is injured on the job, they can apply for workers’ comp benefits. 

Some of the most common injuries sustained by truckers:

  • Injuries from an accident while driving
  • Injuries loading or unloading freight
  • Injuries while making roadside truck repairs
  • Slip and fall injuries when entering or exiting the truck

Truck drivers are often stereotyped as overweight workers who sit for long periods of time before having brief moments of strenuous labor. This is certainly not true for all drivers, but since truckers are often paid by the mile, there is a temptation to work long hours and have irregular sleeping and eating habits.

Drivers should make sure to file their claims immediately after an injury takes place. Failure to file in a timely manner could result in the claim being denied. Some states have strict statutes of limitations on how long someone has to file. Trucking companies are also wise to have policies regarding documentation. Everything needs to be documented and filed.

Unlike commercial trucking insurance, fault typically isn’t an issue when filing a claim. If the employee was injured in the line of work and can show the cause was in the scope of the job, the claim can be accepted. Negligence, however, can be grounds to have the claim denied. Most claims go through an investigation process. 

All Claims Are Serious

The moment a trucker reports an injury on the job, the company should advise its California workers compensation carrier to determine if the worker should visit a doctor for an evaluation. The physician will play a critical role in determining the seriousness of the injury and potentially stopping further harm. There should be documentation if the employee refuses to seek medical attention.

If an employer fails to show concern, it could become more troublesome. Employees who feel like they’ve been dismissed or ignored are more likely to seek legal representation. Litigation can add to the overall costs of the accident exponentially. 

How Much Does Workers’ Comp Cost for Truckers?

Your specific rates will vary depending on a number of factors. Expect the cost to range from 8% to 15% of the trucker’s salary. If the average truck driver’s salary is $57,000, workers’ comp would cost between $4,560 to $8,550 per year. You might pay a higher or lower amount based on different variables like:

  • Does the driver do their own loading and unloading, or do they work under no-touch freight?
  • Do you haul hazardous materials?
  • Does your driver or company have prior claims?
  • How much experience do your drivers and company have?
  • What is your operation class code?
  • What is your radius of operation: local or long haul?

Workers’ comp for truckers is more complicated than workers’ comp in other industries. Truckers often travel through multiple states. If your company is based out of California, but your trucker is injured in Colorado, you need a policy that will work in both states. 

What About Owner Operators?

Let’s say that you own your truck. You work under your own authority and do not hire employees. In this situation, you aren’t necessarily required to carry workers’ compensation insurance.

You may want to look at an Occupational Accident Insurance policy for truckers. Some motor carriers require that you carry this insurance while others might provide it for you. Make sure you know what is expected or required before taking a particular job. 

Safety Makes a Difference

In order to reduce the number of workers’ comp claims, it’s crucial to perform regular safety audits of your company and operations. You want to look for ways to reduce the chances that drivers can get injured on the job.

One of the most practical things you can do to reduce injuries is to require adequate footwear on the job. That means outlawing slippery cowboy boots or sneakers that don’t offer ankle support. Another is to limit how much loaded/unloading a driver is expected to perform. Every driver should have a copy of the company’s safety policies and should attend at least one annual safety briefing or training.

You can also hire drivers who have clean safety records. You want truckers with few to no moving violations, accidents, or previous workers’ comp claims. Safe drivers will also bring down the costs of your commercial trucking insurance, so it’s a win-win.

Drug testing is another way to ensure drivers are less likely to be involved in accidents. If you decide to have a drug-testing program, make sure to include new hire testing, random drug testing, and mandatory testing after an accident. Don’t wait until an employee reports an injury to drug test as the driver might not report the injury right away. 

Shop Around and Save

Because there are so many variables when it comes to finding a quality workers’ compensation insurance policy, it’s prudent to shop around. A great insurance company will offer advice on how to lower costs and get the most from your program.

Whether you have a workers’ comp plan or not, call Strong Tie Insurance today to get a free quote. Protect your employees and your business at a lower cost!