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Rising insurance rates are among the heavier costs facing trucking companies

No matter how many trucks, trailers or other vehicles make up a trucking company’s fleet, a commercial auto policy that covers liability, property and physical damage is in order.

According to the American Transportation Research Institute, which in November released its “Analysis of the Operational Costs of Trucking” report with 2018 statistics, commercial insurance is a complicated and “volatile cost center for motor carriers of all sizes.”

Based on the information provided by the motor-carrier survey respondents, insurance cost per mile in 2018 increased by 12%, to 8.4 cents per mile. The main reasons stated for the increased premiums include growing litigation, increased traffic associated with the expanding economy, as well as increasing vehicle prices, according to the ATR report.

Napa-based Biagi Bros., a full-service transportation, warehousing and logistics company, isn’t drowning because of climbing insurance rates, said Stacey Biagi-Monk, director of public relations and marketing at the family business that has grown to 28 locations and more than 270 trucks since its 1978 founding.

Biagi-Monk said increasing insurance rates haven’t affected the company, which has group insurance. She also doesn’t view the growing rates as something that is or isn’t warranted.

“To be honest, I look at it from a business standpoint,” she said. “If people are going to be jumping on the bandwagon and suing companies, costs are going to go up.”

Biagi Bros. has annual revenues of around $151 million and has a staff of more than 600 people, Biagi-Monk said. The founding Biagi brothers, Greg and Fred Jr., started out as a trucking company and in 1986 expanded operations to include warehousing.

The company drives for wineries, breweries, juice manufacturers and dairies, and has transportation hubs across the country, as previously reported in the Business Journal.

Biagi-Monk said the family’s trucking business has been fortunate.

“For as many trucks and our 28 locations across the United States, we have a very low accident rate,” she said, thanks in part to some of their trucks having in-cab cameras. Her goal is to get the cameras in the entire fleet. “I’d love to make sure we have them in all of our trucks to (safeguard) the good drivers.”

She recalled an accident that involved one of Biagi’s drivers making a left turn when a government vehicle blew through a red light and hit the truck. Biagi Bros. was blamed for the accident but the ensuing lawsuit was dropped, as a neighboring delivery car had an in-cab camera and caught the accident on video.

Employing experienced drivers is also a priority for the trucking firm, and it rewards those who with clean records.

“We have a health and wellness program which reflects that the drivers are taking care of themselves, not having heart attacks behind the wheel,” she said. “And we have our own mini-heroes program.”

In July, a trucking bill, The INSURANCE Act, HB 3781, was introduced in the House of Representatives by that would raise the minimum liability insurance requirements for carriers, and tie the minimum to the inflation rate of medical costs, as determined by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, according to reporting by the Commercial Carrier Journal. The current minimum insurance requirements for motor carriers was established in 1980 and has never been adjusted for inflation.

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