New to becoming an owner-operator?

New to becoming an owner-operator?

DOK Insurance Agency

It’s common for truckers to seek for more independence and wanting to start driving for themselves. If you want to be your own boss, there are a lot of things to think about, plan and know about before you start this new chapter in your life.

Truth is, there are more truckers leaving the industry than entering it, if one only looks at active MCs. Due to the excess of trucking companies started in 2020-2022, shippers are able to offer low rates to truck drivers.

Consider the fact that about 68% of new trucking ventures will not have authority after one month of applying with FMCSA. In Texas, for example 1,251 new FMCSA applications were received in a recent month. Of those, only 401 ended up receiving authority a month later. Why do so many entrepreneurs not get started? We hope the following tips will help.

I. Have a plan:

At this point, you might have already received your business license, have your application with FMCSA pending, and you have a basic idea what kind of truck you want to drive. Do you already have a separate bank account for your business? Do you know which Load Board, Fuel Card, or ELD provider you will use? If you don’t own a truck, are you aware of the cost to lease one, or the down-payment required to buy one?

II. Create a budget AFTER you have some money in the bank:

Sure, as an owner-operator you will enjoy a much higher pay-per-mile than if you drive for someone else. However, from our experience, the biggest reason that a new trucking venture fails is not realizing how expensive it can be to get started and keep going in trucking. Especially with today’s truck shortage, we have seen prices for new and used trucks that would have been unheard of just year ago. If you haven’t already, start using QuickBooks or a similar program to start keeping track of all the cash coming in and going out.

Having money set aside for maintenance is especially important when you drive a truck with significant mileage on it. And when you that transmission needs to be replaced, be ready to rent a replacement truck for a while. We have been made aware of some repairs sometimes taking over a month due to parts and labor shortages.

III. To Lease or Not-to-Lease?

If you have not already, you need to decide if you want to lease onto an existing company or if you want to become your own authority and find your own loads. There are essentially three options to choose from:

  • Become an Independent Carrier: Get your own operating authority. There are higher profit margins and more freedom, but those pros come with more work and oftentimes unwanted obstacles. While you can find consistent work through Amazon Relay, Uber Freight or a number of load boards, it will be up to you to make sure you have work. We strongly encourage having a business partner (i.e. spouse, family member, close friend) that can help you with some of the dispatching and tedious paperwork that is involved in this business.
  • Work as a Leased Owner-Operator: After you buy or lease your own truck, you can go through an existing carrier to use their operating authority. You have control over the equipment and who you lease to, but you can’t walk away from the equipment free and clear. The advantage is that, generally speaking, insurance would be less expensive, and you have a company helping you with load procurement. Those come with a cost, of course, and your pay-per-mile may be less that if you operated under your authority.
  • Lease-Purchase Operator: Sign a lease or a lease-purchase agreement to get a truck through a carrier or third-party leasing company. This is the easiest way to get a truck with little or no down payment or credit, but many drivers sign a lease before they’re ready and get saddled with expensive equipment. Some contracts restrict decision-making, and others make it difficult to take your equipment to other carriers.
IV. Your Health

Maintaining or improving your health while driving a truck full-time is difficult. You might work extremely long days, in a high-stress environment. Your job requires them to meet tight schedules and stay alert for up to 14 hours a day and you remain sedentary for long periods of time and lack of quality food options provide for poor nutrition and diet. When was the last time you had a physical? While many owner-operators think that their $60,000 truck is their most important asset, the truth is the most important asset is You. If you are not well, the business cannot operate.

Come up with a plan to take care of yourself while at home and on the road. Even simple things such as going for a walk at a truck-stop, keeping some weights or exercise bands in your cab and getting the rest you need can make all the difference.

At DOK TRUCKING, we try to help you with more than just finding you the best deal on your insurance. We will be there for you for the long-haul and are looking forward to finding out how we can help you.

T: (425) 242-5252
O: 425-242-5252
E: dom@dokagency.com
A: 1500 Benson Road South, Suite 201 Renton, WA 98055

Dominik Kunigk

Managing Broker & President

Dominik was a German exchange student in high school before graduating from the University of Washington in Business Administration – Information Systems and Retail Management. His insurance career started in 2008 when he decided leave his retail management career behind to start his own business. His American Family Insurance agency quickly grew to service 700 clients and families. While the idea of becoming an independent broker started in 2010, a horrific car accident put that plan on hold. In 2014, Dominik and his wife Michele changed from a captive agency to become the independent agency that you see today.

Our Insurance Partners

The great thing about an independent insurance brokerage like the DOK Insurance Agency is that we can offer insurance policies from literally hundreds of insurance companies and still be your advocate to each one of them.

Get a free insurance quote today

We are an independent insurance brokerage that offers a wide variety of services.

We have seen and gone through a lot of changes since we opened our doors in 2008, but one thing hasn’t changed: We are a family owned business that not only care about our clients but also about the communities that we live in.

Read More

Admitted vs. non-admitted insurance companies

Admitted vs. non-admitted insurance companies

DOK Insurance Agency

In short, an admitted insurance company, often called a “standard/preferred company” has been approved by a state’s insurance department, whereas a non-admitted insurance company, often called a “non-standard company or” or “excess and surplus line company” is not backed/regulated by the state.

What are admitted and non-admitted insurance carriers?

An admitted insurance company is backed and regulated by the state, which means:

  • If you have a concern about the insurance company (for example, the way they are handling your claim), you can ask the state insurance department to look into your concern.
  • The insurance company must comply with the rules and regulations set by their state’s department of insurance.
  • If the insurance company fails financially, the state will step in to make payments on claims as necessary.

A non-admitted insurance company is not approved by the state, meaning:

  • If policyholders think their case was handled improperly, they can’t appeal to the state insurance department.
  • The insurance company can set rates and policy details without needing approval from the state
  • If the insurance company becomes insolvent, there is no guarantee that claims will be paid, even if the case is active at the time of the bankruptcy or financial failure.
What are some other differences between admitted and non-admitted insurance policies?

Many times, non-admitted policies require premiums that are paid in full for the year, so no payment plans are available. That is why larger non-admitted policies are often financed, which means that you are essentially borrowing money from a third-party, which in return pays the insurance company in full. If that is the case, you can expect to pay about 10% in interest.

Even though non-admitted policies exist to help hard-to-insure risks, sometimes insurance agents sell them to clients even though an admitted policy is available. As an insurance agent, we are required, by law, to check with at least three standard insurance companies before trying to sell a non-standard insurance policy.

Before purchasing an insurance policy that reads “Non-Admitted” on the quote, ask your agent the following questions:

  • Did you check your admitted carrier markets for quotes for me?
  • What is the financial rating of this insurance company?
  • If I cancel after a few days, how much money will not be refunded?
  • How does the process look for making policy changes?
  • Does the insurance company handle their own claims or do they hire a third-party?
T: (425) 242-5252
O: 425-242-5252
E: dom@dokagency.com
A: 1500 Benson Road South, Suite 201 Renton, WA 98055

Dominik Kunigk

Managing Broker & President

Dominik was a German exchange student in high school before graduating from the University of Washington in Business Administration – Information Systems and Retail Management. His insurance career started in 2008 when he decided leave his retail management career behind to start his own business. His American Family Insurance agency quickly grew to service 700 clients and families. While the idea of becoming an independent broker started in 2010, a horrific car accident put that plan on hold. In 2014, Dominik and his wife Michele changed from a captive agency to become the independent agency that you see today.

Our Insurance Partners

The great thing about an independent insurance brokerage like the DOK Insurance Agency is that we can offer insurance policies from literally hundreds of insurance companies and still be your advocate to each one of them.

Get a free insurance quote today

We are an independent insurance brokerage that offers a wide variety of services.

We have seen and gone through a lot of changes since we opened our doors in 2008, but one thing hasn’t changed: We are a family owned business that not only care about our clients but also about the communities that we live in.

Read More

Washington insurance credit ban

Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler issued an order on March 23, 2021, that bans the use of credit in setting insurance rates for new and renewing policies as of June 20, 2021. That credit-ban applies to rates for auto, homeowners and renters insurance for three years. On April 23, 2021, a Superior Court judge denied the request for a preliminary junction. The ruling means that Kreidler’s emergency rule is to be enforced.

Therefore, insurance companies in Washington will have to make new filings with the state insurance department ASAP for rate structures that don’t use credit for the affected policies.

In my thirteen years of owning an insurance agency, no change has been as significant and this quick to be implemented. To put things in perspective, insurance companies sometimes wait over one year to have their proposed rate changes approved by the state, and that is after they spent years analyzing what premiums to charge. In the past days, I have spoken to a few insurance companies and all of them are scrambling to figure out how to best handle this credit ban.

Why is there a credit ban?

Insurance companies have used credit-based insurance scores when setting rates for nearly thirty years. Even though insurance agencies and agents don’t know what a client’s score is, we usually have a basic idea if the final premium was heavily influenced by credit.

To use an arbitrary example, let’s say the base premium (the premium before any rating factors are applied) is $1,000 for an auto policy. Insurance based credit alone, could create a premium range of $600 (best credit) and $1,500 (worst credit).

While insurance companies and industry groups have shown that credit-based insurance scores accurately predict risk, consumer advocacy groups have long argued that the scores are innately discriminatory. For example, the Consumer Federation of America says the use of non-driving factors such as credit have disproportionately harmed Black drivers, according to several reports between 2013 and 2020.

Frequently asked questions

What is credit scoring?

Currently, insurance companies are allowed to use credit information when deciding whether or not to offer someone insurance and to calculate how much to charge them.

When will the new ban go into effect?

June 20th, 2021

Is the ruling final?

All indications are that the ban will remain as is.

Do all insurance companies have to comply to this rule?

Yes

Will my rate change on June 20th?

The credit ban will have an impact on your rate once your policy renews after June 19th, 2021.

I have an excellent credit score. How likely is it that my premium will go up?

Assuming that nothing else changed (discounts, tickets, accidents), and that your credit was excellent the last time your policy was rated, it is very likely that your premium will go up. How much is impossible to know at this point.

My credit is bad. Will this mean that my car insurance will be cheaper?

Assuming that nothing else changed (discounts, tickets, accidents), and that your credit was poor the last time your policy was rated, it is very likely that your premium will go down. How much is impossible to know at this point.

My credit is average. What will happen to my premium?

We are guessing that average credit scores will be the mean insurance rate for the foreseeable future, meaning that you will most likely see the smallest change due to this new ruling.

I don’t have any credit. Will my rate change?

Good question. Each insurance company handles situations where client does not have any credit score differently. If a no-score was heavily surcharged, you might see a decrease in premium.

Is Washington State the only one doing this?

In fact, other states, including California, Massachusetts, Michigan, and Hawaii have banned credit based premium scoring for many years.

T: (425) 242-5252
O: 425-242-5252
E: dom@dokagency.com
A: 1500 Benson Road South, Suite 201 Renton, WA 98055

Dominik Kunigk

Managing Broker & President

Dominik was a German exchange student in high school before graduating from the University of Washington in Business Administration – Information Systems and Retail Management. His insurance career started in 2008 when he decided leave his retail management career behind to start his own business. His American Family Insurance agency quickly grew to service 700 clients and families. While the idea of becoming an independent broker started in 2010, a horrific car accident put that plan on hold. In 2014, Dominik and his wife Michele changed from a captive agency to become the independent agency that you see today.

Our Insurance Partners

The great thing about an independent insurance brokerage like the DOK Insurance Agency is that we can offer insurance policies from literally hundreds of insurance companies and still be your advocate to each one of them.

Get a free insurance quote today

We are an independent insurance brokerage that offers a wide variety of services.

We have seen and gone through a lot of changes since we opened our doors in 2008, but one thing hasn’t changed: We are a family owned business that not only care about our clients but also about the communities that we live in.

Read More

Reducing cyber threats in the transportation sector

Reducing cyber threats in the transportation sector

DOK Insurance Agency

Technology advances are transforming the way all industries conduct business, including the transportation and trucking sector. The Internet of Things (IoT), for example, is integrating transportation and warehouse management solutions, connecting in-vehicle sensors and other integrated devices over the network. Embedded sensors in transport vehicles, containers, etc. continuously capture, share, and act on real-time data to improve the quality of customer service, enforce laws and regulations, and reduce liability cost. These and other digital innovations, while providing many benefits for transportation companies, also widen the path to cyber security threats.

In fact, the transportation and trucking sector is increasingly vulnerable to cyber threats as a result of “the growing reliance on cyber-based control, navigation, tracking, positioning, and communications systems, as well as the ease with which malicious actors can exploit cyber systems serving transportation,” according to an analysis conducted by IBM.

Cyber criminals hack trucking companies for several reasons, including:

  • To steal cargo
  • Gain access to customers through system connections
  • Gain identity information credit cards and Personal Identifiable Information (PII), which can then be sold
  • Prevent use of company website or information systems
  • Obtain a company’s intellectual property
  • Gain control of critical data to encrypt the information and ransom it
  • To create fear and chaos by disrupting critical infrastructure; among others

With so much at stake – including the cost to pinpoint vulnerabilities once a breach occurs, notification expenses if data has been compromised, third-party liability, extortion, business interruption, reputational damage, etc. – transportation companies need to create and maintain a cyber security plan.

Following are several measures companies should implement:

  • Train employees on the use of best practices when it comes to security protocol. Training should be conducted frequently, particularly when new technology is adopted. Employees should be trained on such issues as how to generate strong passwords, how to recognize phishing email scams, and how to properly encrypt emails that contain secure information.
  • Run a comprehensive malware and antivirus program for both software and operating systems and apply patches in a timely manner with a tool that can automate the process and provide compliance reporting.
  • Update security patches and limit password attempts. It’s critical for a trucking company to be proactive when it comes to keeping its system codes updated.
  • Create frequent backups and a “hacked” disaster recovery plan. Make sure a cloud-based backup is maintained, with a comprehensive plan in the event that there is a hack.
  • Review the company’s IT environment for vulnerabilities and update systems accordingly. It’s important to stay one step ahead of hackers and keep abreast of changes from password timeouts to new malware protection advances.

In addition to having strong cyber security protocols, a Cyber Liability insurance program should be in place to respond in the event of a breach or other cyber crime. DOK Trucking specializes in insuring the transportation industry and provides end-to-end coverage solutions, including cyber protection.

As always, our team at DOK Insurance Agency is here to help where we can. For more information or questions about cyber insurance, please email info@dokagency.com or give us a call at 425-242-5252. You may also chat and start a conversation with one of our agents online by clicking on the chat button below our page.

T: (425) 242-5252
O: 425-242-5252
E: dom@dokagency.com
A: 1500 Benson Road South, Suite 201 Renton, WA 98055

Dominik Kunigk

Managing Broker & President

Dominik was a German exchange student in high school before graduating from the University of Washington in Business Administration – Information Systems and Retail Management. His insurance career started in 2008 when he decided leave his retail management career behind to start his own business. His American Family Insurance agency quickly grew to service 700 clients and families. While the idea of becoming an independent broker started in 2010, a horrific car accident put that plan on hold. In 2014, Dominik and his wife Michele changed from a captive agency to become the independent agency that you see today.

Our Insurance Partners

The great thing about an independent insurance brokerage like the DOK Insurance Agency is that we can offer insurance policies from literally hundreds of insurance companies and still be your advocate to each one of them.

Get a free insurance quote today

We are an independent insurance brokerage that offers a wide variety of services.

We have seen and gone through a lot of changes since we opened our doors in 2008, but one thing hasn’t changed: We are a family owned business that not only care about our clients but also about the communities that we live in.

Read More

Inexpensive fixes for a safer home

Inexpensive fixes for a safer home

DOK Insurance Agency

When we talk about home improvement, it’s not always about the looks – it can also be about making your home work better. No matter what you are aiming for, investing back into your space by making your home safer should be a priority before anything else.

There are plenty of simple maintenance tasks and other improvements you can handle to make your home safer – whether you’re handy or not. And you won’t have to break out the power tools (or any tools at all in some instances) or worry about getting in over your head.

DOK Insurance Agency

Water Works

You need running water in your home – but not water running in your home, if you know what we mean. Even minor leaks can cause major problems, from higher water bills to damage requiring costly repairs (maybe even the kind you can’t tackle yourself).

Here are some easy ways to make sure your water stays where it should:

Check your appliances. They’re the most common source of water leaks in homes, so it’s worth taking a look at least once a year to check for problems. And the hoses that come with your washer and dishwasher can mean big trouble – they break down over time. Look for kinks and cracks, and replace if needed. Consider using reinforced hoses, too; those with steel braiding or mesh won’t hold up forever, but they’re stronger than rubber or plastic.

Watch the pressure. Water pressure that is set too high can cause pipes, hoses and water lines to leak or burst. Inexpensive gauges are available at home-improvement stores to test your pressure.

Consider installing water sensors such as Flo by Moen. Flo by Moen is a smart water shutoff device that can alert you to a leak or other problem in your home soon after it occurs.

It can even send messages right to your smartphone! It basically works three ways: help you conserve water, save money, and protect your home.

Good News! Flo is collaborating with Safeco Insurance to provide customers of Safeco agents with a special discount.

Just click the widget on the right to enjoy the discount and learn more.

DOK Insurance Agency

Keep your family and your guests on their feet

Millions of Americans – many of them older adults – are injured in falls each year. Look around your home. Should you make some of these fixes?

Reduce clutter. Everything from small pieces of furniture to area rugs can pose a hazard, so make sure they’re in appropriate places and out of the way if possible.

Add stability to stairs. Make sure stairways have sturdy rails, and maybe even non-slip strips, particularly outdoors.

Let there be light. It’s hard to walk safely when you can’t see obstacles or potential trouble spots. Make sure your home is well-lit, and don’t forget night lights, too.

DOK Insurance Agency

Give everyone some air

Pollution isn’t just an outside thing – the air in your home can be unhealthy, too. But helping people breathe a little easier isn’t hard when you follow these steps:

Test the air (and your detectors). Make sure you have working carbon-monoxide and smoke detectors and test them regularly. Also, consider testing your home for radon, a naturally occurring radioactive gas that can be dangerous over time.

Check your filters and ducts. Keeping your furnace filter and air ducts clean will keep your air cleaner as well. And consider adding some of nature’s air filters: plants.

Keep your home clean. Dust doesn’t just build up on the furniture – it ends up in the air as well. Regular cleaning means cleaner air (just be sure to use safe products).

Home improvement doesn’t have to mean a kitchen remodel or finishing the basement. Making your home safer, in fact, just might be the best improvement of all.

T: (425) 242-5252
O: 425-242-5252
E: dom@dokagency.com
A: 1500 Benson Road South, Suite 201 Renton, WA 98055

Dominik Kunigk

Managing Broker & President

Dominik was a German exchange student in high school before graduating from the University of Washington in Business Administration – Information Systems and Retail Management. His insurance career started in 2008 when he decided leave his retail management career behind to start his own business. His American Family Insurance agency quickly grew to service 700 clients and families. While the idea of becoming an independent broker started in 2010, a horrific car accident put that plan on hold. In 2014, Dominik and his wife Michele changed from a captive agency to become the independent agency that you see today.

Our Insurance Partners

The great thing about an independent insurance brokerage like the DOK Insurance Agency is that we can offer insurance policies from literally hundreds of insurance companies and still be your advocate to each one of them.

Get a free insurance quote today

We are an independent insurance brokerage that offers a wide variety of services.

We have seen and gone through a lot of changes since we opened our doors in 2008, but one thing hasn’t changed: We are a family owned business that not only care about our clients but also about the communities that we live in.

Read More

Why you need umbrella insurance for you & your business

Why you need umbrella insurance for you & your business!

DOK Insurance Agency

Commercial umbrella insurance helps protect your business from the financial risks of large lawsuits against your company. It is designed to give you additional coverage above and beyond your liability coverage limits should they become exhausted. In other words, commercial umbrella insurance takes over when your other liability coverage limits have been reached.

In most cases, commercial auto and commercial general liability (CGL) provide up to $1 million in coverage for covered losses. But $1 million may not be enough to fully cover your business’ liability exposures. For example, if you need $3 million for a settlement, your general liability insurance would pay for the $1 million and you would be responsible for paying the additional $2 million (out of your pocket). But if you have an umbrella policy, it could cover the excess up to your limit.

The Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) reported that in 2001 (which is the most recent available statistics), state courts in the nation’s 75 most populated counties held an estimated 11,908 trials in tort, contract, and real property cases. The statistics provided in Table 1.1 below shows the prevalence of tort verdicts over $1 million.

Verdicts of over $1 million can be fairly common, depending on the exposure. For example, for insureds manufacturing products, the 2001 BJS statistics show a 39.1% chance of a verdict over $1 million in a product liability claim. For premises exposures (which is most common among policyholders), the chance of a verdict over $1 million is 9.1%. These statistics clearly indicate that any policyholder who gets sued can be exposed to a significant probability of liability over a typical $1 million limit of a primary business auto or CGL policy.

Multi-million dollar verdicts are more common in wrongful death claims. Based on the total number of tort trials, BJS reported a distinct portion of concerned claims involved one or more persons died as the result of the actions or inactions of the defendant. Table 1.2 shows the median size of plaintiff awards in death claims tried to a verdict in 2001.

These statistics demonstrate that a policyholder’s exposure to verdicts of over $1 million escalates when plaintiffs allege that the policyholder is responsible for someone’s death. In other words, it is much more likely that the policyholder will be responsible to pay more than $1 million if the claim involves death.

Another way of assessing the level of a policyholder’s potential exposure to claims of over $1 million would be to survey the top 100 jury verdicts entered in a given year. Although it’s not that reliable, such a survey could enable the policyholder to have an estimate of the probable maximum severity of a variety of claims. In 2005, the top 100 jury verdicts included several cases involving common auto and CGL exposures, some of which are shown in Table 1.3.

Such cases demonstrate the importance of purchasing coverage in excess of the typical $1 million limit commonly provided by most auto and CGL policies to provide extra liability protection for your business.

Remember, the more your business interacts with customers and clients, the higher your liability risk will be. And your risks can even be greater if your employees are using heavy machinery or dangerous equipment.

To learn more about how umbrella insurance can give your business an extra protection, get a quote today. As always, our team at DOK Insurance Agency is here to help where we can. Please feel free to email info@dokagency.com, chat with us live, or give us a call at (425) 242-5252.

T: (425) 242-5252
O: 425-242-5252
E: dom@dokagency.com
A: 1500 Benson Road South, Suite 201 Renton, WA 98055

Dominik Kunigk

Managing Broker & President

Dominik was a German exchange student in high school before graduating from the University of Washington in Business Administration – Information Systems and Retail Management. His insurance career started in 2008 when he decided leave his retail management career behind to start his own business. His American Family Insurance agency quickly grew to service 700 clients and families. While the idea of becoming an independent broker started in 2010, a horrific car accident put that plan on hold. In 2014, Dominik and his wife Michele changed from a captive agency to become the independent agency that you see today.

Our Insurance Partners

The great thing about an independent insurance brokerage like the DOK Insurance Agency is that we can offer insurance policies from literally hundreds of insurance companies and still be your advocate to each one of them.

Get a free insurance quote today

We are an independent insurance brokerage that offers a wide variety of services.

We have seen and gone through a lot of changes since we opened our doors in 2008, but one thing hasn’t changed: We are a family owned business that not only care about our clients but also about the communities that we live in.

Read More

Effective truck driving tips to prevent accident this winter

Effective truck driving tips to prevent accident this winter

DOK Insurance Agency

Winter is officially here and because driving large commercial vehicles on winter creates special hazards, the safety of both drivers and the driving public are critical. Not to mention the fact that it can lead to harm of yourself and others, damage to your truck and other property, insurance and legal issues, and it can as well leave you off the road for an extended period of time.

Even for experienced truckers, driving a tractor-trailer through snow and ice requires great skill, experience, and concentration.

Here are some effective tips to prevent accident while trucking this winter.

DOK Insurance Agency

During pre-trip homeowner’s insurance

Let’s begin with a pre-trip inspection (before actually starting to drive). It is key for truckers to conduct a thorough pre-trip inspection to make sure their truck or commercial vehicles are safe. This is always important but more so during winter.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSR) require the following in terms of pre-trip inspections:

“No commercial motor vehicle shall be driven unless the driver is satisfied that the [brakes, steering, lighting, wheels and tires, mirrors and horn] are in good working order, nor shall any driver fail to use or make use of such parts and accessories when and as needed…” (FMCSR §392.7(a))

“Before driving a motor vehicle, the driver shall… [b]e satisfied that the motor vehicle is in safe operating condition…” (FMCSR §396.13(a))

It is recommended that all truck and/or any other commercial vehicle drivers pay special attention to the following systems and items below when conducting a pre-trip inspection during winter:

  • Truck coolant and anti-freeze levels
  • Defrosting and heating equipment
  • Windshield wipers and washer fluid levels
  • Use a gauge to check tires’ tread depths are sufficient in providing the traction necessary to ensure your vehicle can operate safely on snow and ice
  • (Note: Front tires must have at least 4/32-inch tread depth in every major groove.
  • On the other hand, all other tires must have at least 2/32-inch tread depth)
  • Ensure you’re carrying chains and extra cross-links that fit the drive tires in case you’ll find yourself in a situation in a situation where driving isn’t possible without the chains.
  • Lights and reflectors are very important as well, so make sure your truck’s windows snd mirrors are clear.
  • For your own personal safety, ensure that all ice and snow are removed from
  • Handholds, steps, and deck plates.
  • Check your exhaust system connections and make sure they are all fitted and
  • Functioning properly. This helps prevent accidental carbon monoxide poisoning
  • As cab ventilation is poorer during winter.

DOK Insurance Agency

While on the road

Driving a huge vehicle, such as a truck, is a difficult job. The weight and size of these types of vehicles and the possible damage they can cause require much more than training to be able to operate as compared to passenger cars.

When it comes to driving on snow and ice, adequate training plays a very important role. Firstly, all truckers must always drive in compliance with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FCMSA) safety mandate that requires truckers to exercise extreme caution when faced with hazardous conditions while driving:

“Extreme caution in the operation of a commercial motor vehicle shall be exercised when hazardous conditions, such as those caused by snow, ice, sleet, fog, mist, rain, dust, or smoke, adversely affect visibility or traction. Speed shall be reduced when such conditions exist. If conditions become sufficiently dangerous, the operation of the commercial motor vehicle shall be discontinued and shall not be resumed until the commercial motor vehicle can be safely operated.” (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSR) 392.14)

The rule above specifically mentioned the winter conditions of ice, snow, and sleet. It also includes conditions that involve rain, fog and rain, fog, and high winds that can adversely affect visibility and traction.

Having said that, here are a couple of things truckers must keep in mind while on the road:

  • Constantly monitor and evaluate weather conditions where you are driving in
  • Be ready to slow down and drive at least below the speed limit
  • Increase following distance and always practice braking distance. Remember, the
  • Heavier the load, the greater the stopping distance must be. Experienced truckers
  • Know how to leave an extended buffer space to avoid a winter storm crash.
  • Do not stop on the side of the highway in low visibility situations, to avoid being
  • Mistaken for being on the road.
  • Make sure to clear snow and ice off your headlights and taillights every time you
  • Stop so you can see and be seen more clearly
  • Stop driving if the weather is too dangerous to drive in

Always remember that safety should be your top priority and it is never acceptable to take unnecessary risks when your own or other people’s lives are involved.

“The insurer can take a look at the data to determine what actually occurred during an accident,” says Mitchell. “The outcome could be quite different, for example, in an accident where the truck driver is accused of speeding and the data indicates otherwise. On the other hand, if the data indicates the truck driver was indeed at fault, the insurer may decide to settle rather than incur the additional defense costs in going to court.”

DOK Insurance Agency

Telematics, according to Mitchell, also motivates drivers to be more accountable for their driving behavior. “They are cognizant that management is monitoring their driving habits.”

Another benefit of employing telematics systems is that when a driver is involved in an accident, a message is automatically sent to the insurer, enabling a claims rep to be discharged to the scene as soon as possible to talk to witnesses.

“The more time that transpires after an accident, the more difficult it is to find witnesses,” notes Mitchell. “If you can get to the accident scene quickly, you’re better able to get an accounting from witnesses about what occurred.”

Some insurers provide cameras and other proprietary telematics devices to insureds while others have partnerships with telematics companies to offer discounts on systems. Yet just having a system in place is not enough.

“You need to use and leverage the data correctly to monitor and correct driver behavior,” says Mitchell. “Transportation companies should view this as a long-term investment in safety which in turn will result in tangible operational benefits.”

As always, our team at DOK Insurance Agency is here to help where we can. For more information or questions about specific insurance policy, please email info@dokagency.com or give us a call at (425) 242-5252.

T: (425) 242-5252
O: 425-242-5252
E: dom@dokagency.com
A: 1500 Benson Road South, Suite 201 Renton, WA 98055

Dominik Kunigk

Managing Broker & President

Dominik was a German exchange student in high school before graduating from the University of Washington in Business Administration – Information Systems and Retail Management. His insurance career started in 2008 when he decided leave his retail management career behind to start his own business. His American Family Insurance agency quickly grew to service 700 clients and families. While the idea of becoming an independent broker started in 2010, a horrific car accident put that plan on hold. In 2014, Dominik and his wife Michele changed from a captive agency to become the independent agency that you see today.

Our Insurance Partners

The great thing about an independent insurance brokerage like the DOK Insurance Agency is that we can offer insurance policies from literally hundreds of insurance companies and still be your advocate to each one of them.

Get a free insurance quote today

We are an independent insurance brokerage that offers a wide variety of services.

We have seen and gone through a lot of changes since we opened our doors in 2008, but one thing hasn’t changed: We are a family owned business that not only care about our clients but also about the communities that we live in.

Read More

Five good things that happened in trucking this week – Nov 20

Five good things that happened in trucking this week – Nov 20

DOK Insurance Agency

Sneak peek: UPS partners with eight-year-old for a holiday food and toy drive in Georgia, Operation Homefront helps prepare military families for the holiday season, a couple of FedEx drivers bust a move to Mariah Carey to spread some joy, and more.

T: (425) 242-5252
O: 425-242-5252
E: dom@dokagency.com
A: 1500 Benson Road South, Suite 201 Renton, WA 98055

Dominik Kunigk

Managing Broker & President

Dominik was a German exchange student in high school before graduating from the University of Washington in Business Administration – Information Systems and Retail Management. His insurance career started in 2008 when he decided leave his retail management career behind to start his own business. His American Family Insurance agency quickly grew to service 700 clients and families. While the idea of becoming an independent broker started in 2010, a horrific car accident put that plan on hold. In 2014, Dominik and his wife Michele changed from a captive agency to become the independent agency that you see today.

Our Insurance Partners

The great thing about an independent insurance brokerage like the DOK Insurance Agency is that we can offer insurance policies from literally hundreds of insurance companies and still be your advocate to each one of them.

Get a free insurance quote today

We are an independent insurance brokerage that offers a wide variety of services.

We have seen and gone through a lot of changes since we opened our doors in 2008, but one thing hasn’t changed: We are a family owned business that not only care about our clients but also about the communities that we live in.

Read More

High behind the wheel: Opioids and increased liability exposures

High behind the wheel: Opioids and increased liability exposures

DOK Insurance Agency

Opioid use in the United States has reached an epidemic level, with the National Survey on Drug Use and Health finding that 10.9 million people misused opioids in 2016, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention putting the number of deaths as a result of opioid use at a record 42,000.

The transportation industry is among the sectors hit the hardest by the opioid crisis. According to federal data, the number of truck and bus drivers, commercial pilots, railroad operators, and pipeline workers who failed federal drug tests jumped by 77 % since 2006. Workers who hold “safety-sensitive” jobs in transportation companies are required to test at least 25% of their workforce each year. This means that nearly a million more workers are now being drug tested with the transportation industry rebounding in recent years.

Addressing the issue of opioid use

To help address the issue of opioid use in the transportation sector, new regulations from the Department of Transportation (DOT) went into effect early in 2018 requiring testing for additional drugs. The ruling, which already became final, requires employers to add four semi-synthetic opioids to the drug-testing panel. This rule applies to all DOT modalities and employers in DOT-regulated industries subject to 49 CFR Part 40, such as aviation, motor carriers, railroads, mass transit, and pipeline employers.

Previously, DOT-regulated employers – in addition to urine testing for amphetamines, cocaine, marijuana, and phencyclidine – had only been required to test covered employees for opiates, codeine, morphine, and heroin.

The new DOT rule makes the following significant changes:

Adds four semi-synthetic opioids (hydrocodone, oxycodone, hydromorphone, and oxymorphone) to the drug-testing panel.
Adds methylenedioxyamphetamine (MDA) as an initial test analyte because, in addition to being considered a drug of abuse, it is a metabolite of methylenedioxyethylamphetaime (MDEA) and methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA), and such testing potentially acts as a deterrent.
Removes testing for MDEA from the existing drug-testing panel.
Removes the requirement for employers and consortium/third-party administrators (C/TPAs) to submit blind specimens in order to relieve unnecessary burdens on employers
Adds three “fatal flaws” to the list when a laboratory would reject a specimen and modifies the “shy bladder” process so that the collector will discard certain questionable specimens.

In addition, last year the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) created a national clearinghouse for commercial drivers’ drug and alcohol test results, in order to ensure that trucking companies know the history of their drivers.

Trucking companies are duly concerned about the safety of their drivers and their equipment, but they are also aware of their liability for any truck crashes, injuries and deaths that their truck drivers might cause while working for them under the influence of drugs. As a result, major trucking carriers want to use hair testing rather than the urine testing the FMCSA uses for drug screening. According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, hair analysis provides long-term information that covers months to years and reveals the severity and pattern of drug use. Urinalysis can only indicate drug use in the past two to three days.

DOK Insurance Agency specializes in insuring the transportation industry, offering Liability, Physical Damage, Cargo, Garage, and other solutions designed to address your insured’s risk profile. Give us a call to find out how we can help you and your clients.

T: (425) 242-5252
O: 425-242-5252
E: dom@dokagency.com
A: 1500 Benson Road South, Suite 201 Renton, WA 98055

Dominik Kunigk

Managing Broker & President

Dominik was a German exchange student in high school before graduating from the University of Washington in Business Administration – Information Systems and Retail Management. His insurance career started in 2008 when he decided leave his retail management career behind to start his own business. His American Family Insurance agency quickly grew to service 700 clients and families. While the idea of becoming an independent broker started in 2010, a horrific car accident put that plan on hold. In 2014, Dominik and his wife Michele changed from a captive agency to become the independent agency that you see today.

Our Insurance Partners

The great thing about an independent insurance brokerage like the DOK Insurance Agency is that we can offer insurance policies from literally hundreds of insurance companies and still be your advocate to each one of them.

Get a free insurance quote today

We are an independent insurance brokerage that offers a wide variety of services.

We have seen and gone through a lot of changes since we opened our doors in 2008, but one thing hasn’t changed: We are a family owned business that not only care about our clients but also about the communities that we live in.

Read More

Business interruption claims affected by civil unrest

Business interruption claims affected by civil unrest

DOK Insurance Agency

If you are running a business then it is necessary for you to have an insurance plan to make sure your business is safe and covered from unexpected risks. Business income insurance – also known as ‘business interruption insurance provides a security shield to businesses from different types of perils, tragedies, and misfortunes.

Does business insurance cover riots, looting, vandalism, and theft during the pandemic?

Business interruption insurance could cover for business’ lost income caused by cessation in operations or limiting hours due to rioting. However, this is only triggered if the business’ premises are physically damaged. Under most policies, business income coverage includes net income (the profit a business earns after taxes and other deductions) and the business’ normal operations cost.

Civil authority provisions also provide coverage for income loss and extra expenses that resulted from access to the business being prohibited by civil authorities such as the fire department, National Guard, or police due to rioting or civil commotion. Civil authority provisions, however, only covers for lost income during a limited time period which is usually four weeks. Though this can be extended by paying additional premiums.

Examining the policy provision language

As always, the insurance policy wording is critical but it is more importantly so in the context of claims which asserts that the government orders have impacted the operation of a business. The civil authority provision in a standard business income and extra expense coverage form reads as follows:

“When a Covered Cause of Loss causes damage to property other than property at the described premises, we will pay for the actual loss of Business Income you sustain and necessary Extra Expense caused by action of civil authority that prohibits access to the described premises, provided that both of the following apply:

(1) Access to the area immediately surrounding the damaged property is prohibited by civil authority as a result of the damage, and the described premises are within that area but are not more than one mile from the damaged property; and

(2) The action of civil authority is taken in response to dangerous physical conditions resulting from the damage or continuation of the Covered Cause of Loss that caused the damage, or the action is taken to enable a civil authority to have unimpeded access to the damaged property.

Civil Authority Coverage for Business Income will begin 72 hours after the time of the first action of civil authority that prohibits access to the described premises and will apply for a period of up to four consecutive weeks from the date on which such coverage began.

Civil Authority Coverage for Extra Expense will begin immediately after the time of the first action of civil authority that prohibits access to the described premises and will end:

(1) Four consecutive weeks after the date of that action; or

(2) When your Civil Authority Coverage for Business Income ends;

whichever is later.”

For businesses forced to cease operations resulting from the occurrence of actual property damage – such as broken windows, fire damage, etc. – the trigger will be met. On the other hand, businesses who closed just in anticipation of potential damage will be hard-pressed to obtain relief for losses resulting from such closures in the absence of physical damage.

Loss of income due to mandatory closure

What is still unclear is the fate of businesses who suffered the loss of income from closures in compliance with civil authority orders issued in anticipation of potential disruption or property damage, including the institution of curfews. Most commercial property or business owner policies contain “civil authority” clauses that provide coverage for loss of business income caused by an “action of civil authority” that prohibits access to the insured’s property as a result of damage to property occurring elsewhere. It is important to note that the weight of authority indicates that civil authority coverage is intended to apply to circumstances where access to the insured’s property is prohibited or forbidden by order of the civil authority issued as a direct result of physical damage to other premises in ‘the proximity’ of the insured’s property.

Here are some example scenarios: In a 1995 case, Syufy Enterprises v. Home Ins. Co. of Indiana, a federal district court in Northern California held that curfew orders were issued in anticipation of rioting, looting, and property damage after the Rodney King verdict did not entitle a business owner to coverage under the civil authority provision because the “requisite causal link between damage to adjacent property and denial of access” was lacking. Likewise, in the case of Dickie Brennan & Co. v. Lexington Ins. Co., the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit held that mandatory evacuation order issued in anticipation of damage from the impending Hurricane Gustav, which had caused damage in the Caribbean, did not trigger business interruption coverage under civil authority provisions.

As always, the specific policy language will govern, and any ambiguities will tend to favor policyholders. In the example above, the court in Sloan v. Phoenix of Hartford Ins. Co., the Michigan Court of Appeals rejected the insurers’ claim that the loss had to be accompanied by “direct physical loss or damage”. In Sloan, following the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the Mayor of Detroit ordered the closure of “places of amusement,” which included the plaintiff’s theatre. The business-interruption policy provided in relevant part:

“1. This policy covers against loss resulting directly from necessary interruption of business caused by damage to or destruction of real or personal property by peril(s) insured against…” (emphasis added)

“7. Interruption by Civil Authority. This policy is extended to include the actual loss… when as a direct result of the peril(s) insured against, access to the premises described is prohibited by order of civil authority.”

The court compared the two provisions and found that they “contemplate separate and distinguishable business losses,” namely that the Civil Authority provisions “speaks to business-interruption losses occasioned by the denial of access to the premises by order of civil authority.” In a finding in favor of the policyholder, the court found the absence of language requiring such coverage to be triggered by physical damage to be “conspicuous,” and therefore equivocal.

Even when property damage has occurred in a location other than the policyholders’ property, many civil authority coverage provisions require an ‘element of proximity’.

In United Air Lines, Inc. v. Ins. Co. of State of PA, United Airlines sought coverage for losses incurred due to the government-ordered grounding of air travel immediately following the 9/11 terrorist attacks shutdown. The issue was coverage resulting from the tragic crash of American Airlines Flight 77 into the Pentagon. The civil authority provision at issue provided coverage “when access to the Insured Locations is prohibited by order of civil authority as a direct result of damage to adjacent premises.” United argued that damage to the Pentagon from qualified as an “adjacent premise” to the Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, in Arlington, Virginia, where United maintained a ticket office.

While the court upheld the denial of coverage where U.S. Government’s decision to ground airplanes following 9/11 terrorist attacks, was based on fears of future attacks — not physical damage to arguably adjacent property, the court commented, in dicta, that the term “adjacent” was likely ambiguous given that two properties can be adjacent without necessarily sharing a border.

Damages

The calculation of damages is still bound to be another issue for dispute, even if coverage is found. Insurers will view closure orders issued as it relates to civil unrest as distinct from closure orders or limitations issued as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Claims will be valued based on expected revenues a business would have gotten had there not been any civil unrest. With the COVID-19 pandemic closures, insurers are more likely to determine this to be of significantly less value than full operations before the pandemic happened.

Even all-risk business interruption insurance has exclusions and as always, the language of each policy will control and should be evaluated considering the facts and circumstances of each individual claim. Nevertheless, the considerations above show that business owners seeking coverage under business interruption insurance policies are facing increasingly complicated challenge.

T: (425) 242-5252
O: 425-242-5252
E: dom@dokagency.com
A: 1500 Benson Road South, Suite 201 Renton, WA 98055

Dominik Kunigk

Managing Broker & President

Dominik was a German exchange student in high school before graduating from the University of Washington in Business Administration – Information Systems and Retail Management. His insurance career started in 2008 when he decided leave his retail management career behind to start his own business. His American Family Insurance agency quickly grew to service 700 clients and families. While the idea of becoming an independent broker started in 2010, a horrific car accident put that plan on hold. In 2014, Dominik and his wife Michele changed from a captive agency to become the independent agency that you see today.

Our Insurance Partners

The great thing about an independent insurance brokerage like the DOK Insurance Agency is that we can offer insurance policies from literally hundreds of insurance companies and still be your advocate to each one of them.

Get a free insurance quote today

We are an independent insurance brokerage that offers a wide variety of services.

We have seen and gone through a lot of changes since we opened our doors in 2008, but one thing hasn’t changed: We are a family owned business that not only care about our clients but also about the communities that we live in.

Read More