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Commercial Lines – Brooker Insurance Agency

Commercial Lines

insurance payout

Get Your Insurance Payout Faster

By | Commercial Lines, Transportation | No Comments

Being involved in a semi-truck accident can be a frightening event and often causes overwhelming aftermath. Your company and driver(s) will need the insurance payout quickly to cover various expenses.

Making the right decisions on the scene and immediately following the accident makes a significant difference in the timeliness of your insurance payout. Follow the steps outlined in this article to get your insurance money as quickly as possible.


Gather Evidence

Your drivers should all carry smartphones. If or any reason they are not, you should equip them with a digital camera ASAP. Instruct your drivers always to take photos as soon as the area is safe and secured.

You’ll want to document the scene of the accident thoroughly to avoid any ambiguity about what happened and who is responsible.

What to photograph:

  • Your truck, and the other car(s) or truck(s).
  • The surrounding area or intersection.
  • The other driver’s license and insurance ID card.
  • The license plate(s), or write them down quickly.


Carefully Choose a Repair Shop

Coordinate with your insurer which shop they prefer. It may seem like you will save money up front by going to a friend of a friend, but in the end, it may slow down and impede your claim.

Most insurance companies have a goal to payout a claim within 30 days.

Anytime another car is involved in an accident, the claim can get delayed up to 60 days. If it takes any longer, you should ask your insurer to have a conference call with the agent, insurer, and customer to avoid any miscommunication and further delays.


Downtime Insurance

When you have a truck down for the count, your trucking business is losing money in more ways than one. This is where downtime insurance can help offset the financial damage.

What is downtime insurance? Downtime insurance indemnifies for loss of earnings resulting from the inability to operate due to damage to a truck or trailer from an insured accident.

As a trucker or fleet owner, hopefully, you’ve purchased this from your insurer or agent. You will need concrete proof of the loss of income you are experiencing to receive a downtime claim.

The adjuster will want to keep as much money for the insurance company as possible, so be prepared for an audit of proof-of-income and financial losses related to your claim.

The insurance company will require lots of documentation. Be prepared to prove that you are getting the truck repaired as quickly as possible.

Downtime insurance is one area where you will need to be patient to get a payout. Also, smaller claims payout more easily and quickly.


State Mandated Deadlines

Some states will require an insurance payout to happen more quickly. This only works when there are no disputes involved, from any parties involved.

Check into the state where the accident happened, as well as where your business is legally located. Use the interactive map from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners‘ to find out whom to contact.


Communication is Key

The best way to get your insurance payout quickly is to communicate promptly. Answer phone calls, and initiate phone calls to your insurer and agents involved. Provide any requested documentation as soon as possible.

Being prompt in reporting is crucial to receiving your payout on time. To learn more about insurance payouts for trucking accidents and to have expert guidance, contact Brooker Transportation at 800-722-0055.


PHOTO: Pixabay / CC0 Public Domain

motor coach amenities

Do Your Motor Coaches Offer the Right Amenities

By | Commercial Lines | No Comments

Your motor coach business likely has various sizes of coaches, serving different travelers’ needs. Most of your fleet will fall into two categories: mini coach and charter bus. Your main ticket may be local or intercity, as opposed to long-distance or nationwide. But what about onboard amenities? Most travel groups have similar expectations. Travelers today are more tech-savvy and pampered.

Keep your motor coach company ahead of the competition. Consider some of these ideas to modernize your offerings.


Technology for Motor Coaches

Young and old travelers alike are staying connected through social media and email. An essential offering for the modern charter bus is Wi-Fi. You are most likely losing ticket sales to your competitors if you aren’t offering 3G or 4G Wi-Fi. This easy upgrade pays for itself.

How are travelers going to keep devices charged? Smartphones, tablets, and laptops all have one thing in common: batteries. Make sure your travelers can easily recharge during their trip.

A few tech touches will go a long way. Here are a few more ideas:

  • USB integration in power sockets
  • Individual LED reading lights and aisle lights
  • Premium sound systems
  • Multiple flat screen video systems
  • Video game consoles


Comfort Onboard Motor Coaches

Ensure that your travelers a relaxing journey. Spare them fighting over who sits in the middle seat. Consider investing in the most comfortable seats. Strategize your seating arrangements. Provide ample space and legroom. Providing ergonomic reclining seats and adjustable footrests. These are a few more ways to guarantee an enjoyable ride.

Also, consider a top-of-the-line HVAC system with different “climate zones.” You can also provide light blankets or jackets for passengers who get chilled easily.


Cleanliness of Your Motor Coaches

Make sure your restroom is as squeaky clean as your cab. Get on a supply schedule to keep your bathroom stocked. Supply things like hairspray, feminine hygiene products, over-the-counter motion sickness prevention, sunscreen, and a variety of soaps. Don’t skimp on cost with cheap toilet paper, either! Think about smell, too. A nice, lightly scented air freshener can greatly improve comfort.

Train your staff how to clean a motor coach from front to back, pre- and post-trip. You’ll see the benefit in your customer feedback and reviews.


Motor Coach Luxury

Give your charter buses a luxurious touch! For long-distance trips, consider these “first class” amenities;

  • Feature films
  • Complimentary beverages and light snacks
  • Free meals
  • Onboard attendants
  • Fleece blankets and pillows
  • Fresh flowers in the restroom

After a complimentary glass of wine (on evening trips) and fresh flowers. Who wouldn’t be in love with their experience?

Set your motor coach company apart. Consider some of these amenities. You will make your travelers feel first-class on your motor coaches.

Are you getting ready to upgrade your fleet’s amenities? Consider reviewing your fleet’s insurance policy to make sure everything is properly covered.

Visit us online. Learn more about our comprehensive charter insurance packages.

motorcoach company's safety ranking

Ways to Improve Your Motorcoach Company’s Safety Ranking

By | Commercial Lines | No Comments

Last October, the Cornell Daily Sun reported that a charter bus operated by Ithaca, N.Y.-based Big Red Bullet crashed in Pennsylvania, killing one passenger and injuring the driver as well as the remaining 12 passengers. The driver faced 33 criminal charges, including Homicide by Vehicle While Driving Under the Influence. As of this writing — and according to the FMCSA Safety and Fitness Electronic Records (SAFER) system — the company may not operate.

While this is a worst-case scenario, it does serve as a cautionary tale about the value of a motorcoach company’s safety ranking. Here’s what you can do to improve your company’s safety ranking and ensure it remains positive.


Choose Your Motorcoach Drivers Carefully

Returning to Big Red Bullet for a moment, the Cornell Daily Sun also reported that the driver of the bus that crashed not only fell asleep at the wheel but was later found to have traces of cocaine in his system.

Your bus drivers are arguably your most important assets when it comes to motorcoach safety. Always validate the drivers’ safety records. Check for up-to-date CDL licenses and medical fitness to operate a motorcoach. Also conduct background checks. When conducting them yourself, you might not be able to access the correct information. Instead, outsource this to a provider that specializes in conducting background checks.

Credit reporting agency TransUnion said that a traditional background check will include motor vehicle records, the element most important to you. Also look check a prospective employee’s credit report for signs of irresponsible behavior. “Any missed payments or bankruptcies could signal signs of being irresponsible elsewhere, and negatively separate you from the competition,” said Jill Gonzalez, an analyst writing for CNBC Make It. Check for criminal history as well.

Remember, though — you have to ask the applicant for permission to do a background check.


Address Vehicle Maintenance Issues

Just like an automobile, a motorcoach in good working order will operate more safely than one in poor physical condition. And just like a car, your motorcoach comes with an owner’s manual that recommends service intervals for key items. Make proper engine oil changes a top priority for ongoing motorcoach maintenance, followed by oil and air filter changes.

Note where the rubber literally hits the road — your vehicles’ tires. Get them regularly inspected and rotated. Regular tire rotation and alignment will result in better tread wear, and thus longer tire life. And, of course, replace the tires when they wear out.

You can expect tire maintenance to be somewhat costly — a spokesperson for Goodyear in an article for Transport Topics called it the second most costly fleet maintenance expense behind fuel. However, it confers a financial benefit. Specifically, well-maintained tires reduce fuel consumption. Fleet Equipment says that, for every 10% a tire is underinflated, there will be a corresponding 1% decrease in fuel economy. Applied across several tires on a vehicle — and several vehicles in a fleet — it’s easy to see how tire maintenance improves your bottom line.


Ensure you Comply with Regulations

The FMCSA factors both driver fitness and vehicle maintenance into your overall safety rating. But there are a few other safety areas defined by the FMCSA that also apply to motor coach companies:

  • Unsafe Driving
  • Hours-of-Service (HOS) Compliance
  • Controlled Substances and Alcohol

Hopefully if you find and hire good drivers, both unsafe driving and drug or alcohol abuse will not become issues. However, many companies run afoul of HOS compliance. Simply put, you can’t work your drivers to death. They can only drive so many hours in a day, and they are required to sleep a certain number of hours each day. Federal codes  CFR 392 and 395 address this

Fortunately, you need not ever find yourself with a poor safety rating from the FMCSA. They provide a myriad of tools to help motor coach operators meet safety standards and improve if they find they are falling behind. The provide a Motor Carrier Safety Planner that makes it easy to research and implement safety protocols for motorcoach companies.


IMAGE: Pixabay / CC0 Public Domain

distracted driving

Educate Your Drivers About Distracted Driving

By | Commercial Lines | No Comments

Keeping your company’s drivers safe on the road is a big responsibility. It’s getting increasingly difficult to keep commercial drivers focused with the ubiquity of smartphones and other mobile devices. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) found, in a 2009 study, that 71 percent of large-truck crashes occurred when the truck driver was doing something besides driving the truck.

Of course, the foremost concern is the safety of everyone on the road. But jobs and employees are also on the line, no matter the incident. The FMCSA also states “drivers caught texting or using hand-held mobile phones are subject to fines, disqualifications, and being put out-of-service.”

Although drivers may be well aware of these dangers, they can get comfortable after being on the road a while, and an incoming text from a loved one or friend may prove too tempting. Here’s some advice on keeping your trucking fleet accident and worry-free.


Smart Phones and Tech in the Cab

A lot is going on in a modern trucker’s cab, from the newly required electronic logging devices to navigation and fleet management devices and apps. It’s easy to imagine the difficulty in focusing on the road with so many internal-cab distractions.

Limit the number of gadgets in your cabs. It’s easy to get carried away with fuel-coaching devices and other truck tech, but you should consider company policies that limit excessive gizmos. So, your driver’s cabs aren’t too busy, but what about distractions outside of the trucks?


Anything that Takes Your Eyes Away from Driving is Dangerous

When discussing safety tips and processes with your drivers, don’t underestimate eye-catching distractions beyond the cab. The FMCSA and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found, in a three-year study, that an estimated 11,000 truck crashes in the U.S. involved external distractions.

Outdoor advertising, such as static and moving billboards, cleverly capture people’s attention. Remind your drivers to avoid looking at these objects, and even a quick glimpse could lead to a fatal accident.


Do Not Use Dispatch Devices While Driving

Let your drivers know that no matter how convenient it seems to pick up a message on a dispatch device, it must wait. There is nothing urgent enough to warrant the increased risk of a crash. According to the FMCSA, “texting on a dispatching device is indistinguishable from texting on another text-capable device, and is therefore prohibited.”

As technology advances, companies are creating easier-to-use and safer dispatching devices. Implement a dispatching device that supports voice-recognition and the ability to respond and read messages aloud without looking at a screen.

It’s a good practice to routinely remind your drivers:

  • Never eat while driving
  • Do not reach for objects
  • Do not read anything
  • No dialing or texting

Bob Bringgold, national director of risk control for Northland offers a great idea. During team meetings, ask drivers to recall the craziest distraction or thing they’ve seen on the road. It will encourage conversation and help get drivers engaged in company safety and risk prevention.


What are the Penalties for Distracted Driving?

The penalties for truck drivers caught driving-while-distracted, accident or not, vary per extenuating circumstances and location. The FMCSA states:

“Using a hand-held mobile phone while driving a CMV can result in driver disqualification. Penalties can be up to $2,750 for drivers and up to $11,000 for employers who allow or require drivers to use a hand-held communications device while driving.”

You also risk disqualification by the FMCSA. Multiple violations can result in disqualification by a state. Some helpful reminders from the FMCSA include:

  • Use voice-activated dialing
  • Use an earpiece or speakerphone
  • Drivers are not in compliance if they unsafely reach for a mobile phone, even if they intend to use the hands-free function.


Talk to your trusted agent at Brooker Transportation Agency to learn more about protecting your drivers from distracted driving. We are your source for comprehensive truck insurance. We provide protection from a variety of commercial trucking risks.


PHOTO: Wikimedia Commons / CC0 Public Domain

prepare your drivers

How to Prepare Your Drivers in Case of an Accident

By | Commercial Lines, Insurance Insights | No Comments

Things are going great for your company. You’re meeting deadlines, making revenue goals, and growing your team. It’s easy to develop an attitude that the worst won’t happen. But the road is a dangerous place. Driving a commercial truck is, at times, like maneuvering an obstacle course. Even when you take steps to keep your drivers safe, accidents happen. The best thing you can do is to prepare. Besides checking that you have sufficient, trustworthy insurance, prepare your drivers. Make sure they know how to respond in this rare but highly stressful situation.


Prevention is Best

Preventing accidents should be your motto, no matter who’s at fault, a scratch or fatality. Discuss with drivers ways to stay alert on the road and not take unnecessary risks. Provide drivers with a 24-hour first point of contact list at your company.

Truckers are often in a rush to meet a deadline, and this can result in pushing themselves to drive past their limits. Truck drivers might think they are capable of operating with little sleep, but the DOT found that 87% of trucker-caused crashes were due to driver fatigue. Make sure your drivers adhere to FMCSA regulations by driving a maximum of 11 hours after ten consecutive work days, and 10 hours after eight straight hours off-duty.

Another major contributor to all auto accidents is cell phone usage. Set and routinely explain policies prohibiting cell phone use while driving. Include other distractions, too, like eating on the road.


In Case of an Accident

Everything that happens following an accident, such as dealing with insurance, is easier if your drivers react appropriately. Here are steps to request of your drivers if they get in an accident.

Keep calm and turn on your hazards. Take a deep breath and do not move. While mentally assessing the situation, remind yourself that you are a professional and still representing your company.

  1. Do not admit fault! You may want to say, “I’m sorry” even when you did nothing wrong, but this could be used against you in court.
  2. Do not move. Leave your truck at the crash site unless police instruct you otherwise. Also, never purposefully park the truck as a barricade in any situation.
  3. Put out reflectors as soon as you’re able. One reflector goes 10 feet behind the vehicle and a second 100 feet behind.
  4. Call 911. If you cannot operate your phone, ask multiple people to get help. Do not rely on one person who says they are going to get help.
  5. Collect information. Don’t focus on this step too much, as it can be seen as coercion if excessive or aggressive. Get the name, address, and phone number of any witnesses. At minimum, take a photo or write down license plate numbers of involved vehicles.
  6. Call the company. Report what happened clearly, accurately, and without defensiveness. They will likely contact the insurance company for you.
  7. Take photos. Capture as many images as you can of the accident and damage to either your truck or another vehicle. Also, include skid marks or vehicle positions, signals, and anything that may deem useful. A smartphone is great for this as it timestamps the images.

It’s up to your company to decide whether or not to provide first aid training. It would seem very reasonable and responsible if you do, especially in a courtroom. If you do, be sure to provide proper training and first-aid kits.


Other Tips for Truck Drivers

After ensuring everyone involved is safe and unharmed, and taking care of the above necessary steps, it’s a good idea to check your cargo. If you were hauling anything dangerous, get the road flares out sooner than later to keep traffic from harm.

Cooperate with any police officers at the scene. Agree to blood and alcohol tests if they ask. If you were operating by the law and, depending on the severity of the accident, you shouldn’t have to worry about losing your CDL, but may require review.

Make sure your drivers and trucks are covered and secure. Call Brooker Transportation Agency at 440-238-5454 for comprehensive truck insurance, as well as; bus, motor coach, limousine, charter and tour company, school bus, public transit, and more.


PHOTO: Pixabay / CC0 Public Domain

Employment Practices Liability Insurance

By | Commercial Lines, Coverages, Insurance Insights | No Comments
Employment Practices Liability Insurance (EPLI) is something that you may want to consider as you look at the coverages on your current policy. It turns out that sixty to seventy percent of companies do not have EPLI or think that their current policy covers them when it really does not. Our goal today is to promote awareness in regard to this important coverage to help you make an informed decision as you review your policy with your agent.
APLI covers your business in case you face a lawsuit in regard to your employees. For instance, it might be an issue related to hiring malpractice, inappropriate background checks, wrongful termination, harassment, discrimination, or other similar matters. The lawsuits related to these kinds of matters are rising by approximately 400% ins one years. Many companies believe that this type of liability is covered under their General Liability policy, but that is often not the case.
It is so important that, at Brooker Insurance, we are talking about EPLI with each and every commercial client we meet for an insurance review. We encourage you to talk to your trusted agent or broker about it as well.

“Sixty to seventy percent of companies do not have EPLI!”

Target Premium

By | Commercial Lines, Insurance Insights, Premium | No Comments
When working with an insurance underwriter in regard to your insurance, your insurance broker may provide a target premium amount. That amount may be related to a number you provide or it may be determined by the broker in accordance with what would be best for you, the customer. At other times, it may simply be that the broker asks the underwriter at the insurance carrier to provide the very best rate possible.
The takeaway point is that it is in the insured’s best interest to have a target. That is why, if you are shopping for insurance, your new broker may ask you what you have been paying in the past. This allows him or her to help determine a good target to pass along to the carrier. It maximizes the possibility that the carrier will provide aggressive and favorable pricing back to you.
In the end, you want a target that is not too high or not too low. Something that is too low may simply mean that the underwriter walks away and does not provide a quote. That is why an experienced broker can be your best advocate in gaining the best coverage at the right price.

“The takeaway point is that it is in the insured’s best interest to have a target.”

Looking for Profitability

By | Commercial Lines, Employee Benefits, Profit | No Comments
Bill Brooker, Commercial Account Executive, discusses his interactions with a commercial customer in regard to an insurance review of the coverage on one of their large office buildings. The review resulted in the realization that the business contents, which was currently being insured by the business policy, was being double-covered by their building policy. In only about ten minutes time, Bill was able to recommend changes which would result in approximately a $10,000 premium savings each year.
The main point is one of profitability. At Brooker Insurance, our goal is to help you manage your risk in a way that not only maximizes your coverage, but also considers your long-term profitability. We highly encourage you to take the time to have a review of your insurance policies and the associated coverages at least every three to five years. As an independent agent, we value the opportunity to shop on behalf of our clients in order to keep their insurance costs as low as possible, while still maintaining proper coverage.
Employee benefits is another place to evaluate costs and look for options to help keep your bottom line healthy. The ever-changing landscape of healthcare regulations and benefits systems means that frequent reviews are always valuable.
At the end of the day, one of our main goals as an insurance agency is to help your company remain strong and profitable!

“Our goal is to help you manage your risk in a way that not only maximizes your coverage, but also considers your long-term profitability.”