The Relationship Enhancement Program (REP) was developed at the beginning of 2019 to address several needs following years of tremendous growth at PLM. At the core of our principles remains our desire to develop and maintain direct relationships with our insureds with the purpose of helping them mitigate losses specific to the lumber, woodworking and forest products industries. Along with top-line premium growth comes increased claims activity. As new claim trends develop within our niche we’ve implemented appropriate measures to address these exposures with our customers. Through consultative visits, Business Development Representatives (BDRs) and Loss Control Representatives (LCRs) educate and assist our insureds to improve their current safety programs. Through their expertise in the wood niche, they are able to provide industry-specific recommendations and services to help our insureds establish programs to operate safer businesses.
With our representatives visiting locations throughout the United States, we wanted to share some of our findings and the areas of concern where there is a need for better risk management focus.
- Fire: Accounts for only 10% of our loss frequency, but 2/3 of our total claims costs. Critical areas of concern include uncontrolled hot work, electrical shorts, weak hydraulic lines, heating systems, dust collection systems and housekeeping (including smoking controls).
- Weather-related (wind, hail, water): 40% of our loss frequency. Assessment of roofs and structures. There is a need for preventative maintenance and other best practices related to this loss type.
- Theft/security: 10% of loss frequency.
- Vacant buildings: A common concern due to the lack of constant supervision and observation of building conditions. Vacant buildings pose a greater risk to the above loss types.
- Forklift safety: Involved in almost a quarter of General Liability loss frequency. All of these losses are preventable through training, preventative maintenance, and pre-planning.
- Loading/unloading: Nearly 20% of loss types, typically involving trucks and load securement. Having policies and procedures with a systematic process, training, and proper equipment is critical.
- Slip/falls: 15% of loss frequency, but even more impactful due to the severity (costs). These too are largely preventable. As simple as it sounds, comprehensive preventative maintenance and housekeeping programs will largely address most exposures. Surface types (e.g. friction) are important as well.
Perhaps the greatest challenge we’re facing is the poor results on our book of commercial automobile business. While these results are not limited to PLM or the wood niche, but rather the entire insurance industry, we’re working closely with our customers to proactively implement fleet safety programs. The most common losses paid by PLM include:
- Rear-end collisions (22%)
- Right of way violation (19%)
- Improper lane change (14%)
- Fatigue (8%)
- Sideswipe (8%)
- Loading/unloading (6%)
Of all losses/claims paid, industry estimates are that 95% of them are preventable (PLM’s non-scientific assessment would not argue that point). Many studies have shown that a third of all collisions are due to distracted driving.
Regardless of the size of the automobile fleet, every business should have some level of a written fleet safety program that addresses the expectations of their drivers, including employees with their own vehicles using them for the benefit of the business. While some of the factors driving poor auto results are out of our customers’ control, there are a number of controls that can be put into place for little to no cost that will have an immediate positive impact.
One control we strongly encourage all of our customers to implement is a continuous MVR monitoring program. Continuous MVR monitoring goes a step ahead of simply pulling your drivers’ MVRs at one point in time by monitoring behavior in real time, so issues can be addressed as soon as possible. With timely intervention, drivers can be counseled before it’s too late. With the lack of qualified drivers from which to choose these days, it pays to invest in keeping the drivers you have. A recent claim we received involved a situation where having a continuous MVR monitoring program in place could have prevented the loss. The incident involved an insured’s driver who had three separate accidents in six months, unbeknownst to the business owner. Two of the accidents were due to improper lane changes and one where he struck a parked car. Another recent claim uncovered a driver with a suspended driver’s license in another state. Having real time information allows you to take immediate action, reducing additional liabilities for negligent entrustment of a company vehicle.
While fleet safety is just one example of the value-added services we can provide, our team of BDRs and LCRs can assist with Insurance to Value assessments, managing Additional Insured requests with subcontractors, and Hot Work Permit programs to mention a few.
We value the relationships we’ve developed over the years with our customers and with the rollout of our Relationship Enhancement Program we’re reconnecting and redeploying our resources to assist our insureds to take safety to the next level.