Medical cost inflation, attracting and retaining qualified employees, and increasing benefit costs are the top three concerns among transportation industry business owners, according to the latest Travelers Business Risk Survey.
And those concerns didn’t come as a surprise to Christopher Hayes, Travelers’ second vice president of transportation risk control.
“I was not surprised to find that attracting and retaining talent is number two,” Hayes told Fleet Owner. “We always hear about the challenges of driver shortages and the challenges of finding drivers. What was different this year was the growth from last year’s number, which was 55% (versus 61% this year). We did note that change.”
Travelers just unveiled its second Business Risk Index, a survey of 1,210 businesses across the country, including within the transportation industry, about the biggest risks/exposures of concern, how those risks have changed and what businesses are doing to mitigate them. The first survey was conducted last year, and Travelers also releases a similar Consumer Risk Index. Travelers hired Hart Research to conduct the online survey from Feb. 18 to March 4 of this year.
When it comes to mitigating some of the risks that business owners in the transportation industry face, Hayes suggests:
Focusing on the driver and being very selective about who is hired.
Not fearing new technology, such as telematics and recording devices.
Using safety management system scores and pre-employment screening processes.
Increasing your number of wellness programs to help manage risk.
Being cognizant of distracted driving.
Hayes based his suggestions on 17 years of experience in transportation and from this year’s survey findings. Key findings from the survey for the transportation industry are:
75% of transportation companies list medical cost inflation as their top worry, followed by attracting and retaining qualified employees (61%) and increasing employee benefit costs (60%).
Specific concerns relating to transportation employees — driving accidents they cause (60%), injuries (60%) and distracted driving (57%).
Employee safety training (61%) is the most common risk-prevention measure, according to the Index.
Regarding cyber risks, less than one in five (18%) transportation companies buy separate coverage for cyber, according to the survey. And roughly two in five (36%) feel they are already covered by other insurance policies. According to the Index, 58% of transportation companies surveyed are concerned about cyber risks and data breaches.
In order to help mitigate some business owners’ concerns, Hayes suggests they be diligent when researching new technology to implement. “There is a lot on the market,” he said. “Spend the time to investigate the technology out there before making a purchase.”
And because medical cost inflation is the number one concern among business owners across the board, Hayes said it is beneficial to have a staff that is more fit and alert, as they are better able to drive more successfully.
“I think we’ll continue to see companies investing in wellness programs,” he said, adding that Travelers is a co-sponsor of Driving Healthy, a website that delivers health and wellness information to commercial truck drivers.
When it comes to distracted driving, Hayes said companies often don’t consider managers and dispatchers as a distraction to drivers, but they can be.
“We remind them that a manager or dispatcher could be a distracting factor and that they are making sure they are picking the right time to call the driver,” Hayes said, noting the timing of communication between the driver and dispatcher or manager is critical when it comes to not further distracting the driver.
Other concerns among the transportation industry according to the survey are changes in oil/energy costs (60%), complying with laws (56%), broad economic uncertainty (56%), risks related to weather/natural disasters (56%), employee safety (51%), legal liability (50%), and risks to corporate reputation (50%).
The purpose of the survey is for Travelers to better understand its clients’ concerns, what they feel threatens their business, and what they can do to better prepare and avoid potential risks.
“We want to understand what risks are on the minds of business owners and consumers, so we can offer them the product that best meets their needs,” said Matthew Bordonaro, second vice president of corporate communications.