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Maximizing Insurance Savings: How to Improve Your CSA Scores

Since 2010, safety scores have been used by trucking companies to evaluate their overall operations, and as a result, they have a substantial influence on truckers’ insurance costs. It is essential to understand the details of safety scores and compliance programs to maximize their benefits.

The Safety Score

A CSA (Compliance, Safety, Accountability) score is calculated by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) using data from inspections, crashes, and other violations.

The Safety Score, a component of the Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) program launched in 2010, is used to determine the level of risk associated with a trucking company or driver. Scores are assigned on a scale of 0 to 100, with a lower score indicating a lower risk. This score is used to evaluate compliance with local and federal regulations in order to ensure the safe operation of commercial motor vehicles. The CSA program assesses motor carriers through the use of crash data and inspection information, which are analyzed through a system, process, and set of rules.

The score is based on seven Behavioral Analysis and Safety Improvement Categories (BASICs), which are used to assess a carrier’s safety performance.

The seven BASICs are:

  1. Unsafe Driving
  2. Fatigued Driving (Hours-of-Service)
  3. Driver Fitness
  4. Controlled Substances/Alcohol
  5. Vehicle Maintenance
  6. Cargo-Related
  7. Crash Indicator

Each BASIC is assigned a score based on the carrier’s performance in that category. The scores are then combined to create an overall CSA score. The FMCSA uses this score as a way to identify carriers that may be at a higher risk of involvement in crashes or safety violations.

What is the Purpose of Safety Scores?

Trucking CSA scores evaluate the risk associated with a commercial vehicle carrier by assessing both driver risk (based on crash data) and company performance (based on vehicle inspection). These scores are used by trucking insurance companies to determine insurance premiums. Companies and drivers with good scores can qualify for lower insurance premiums, as they are considered to be a lower risk.

Understanding Compliance Programs

A compliance program is a vital tool for commercial motor vehicle carriers looking to enhance their CSA scores. These programs are designed to address areas that have been identified as having low scores, with the objective of reducing risks and promoting safety.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) offers several Proactive Safety Management (PSM) based compliance programs:

  • PSM DOT Essentials Program: For carriers that have limited safety staff or resources.
  • PSM Motor Carrier Program: Focuses on improving the overall safety performance of motor carriers.
  • PSM Non-CDL Program: Targets smaller carriers that operate non-CDL vehicles.
  • PSM Short-Haul Construction Program: For carriers that operate in the construction industry.
  • PSM Safety Director Program: For safety directors or managers to enhance their skills and knowledge.

Complying with compliance programs can assist trucking companies in enhancing their safety scores, which can lower the risk level of the company. This decrease in risk can present opportunities for reduced insurance costs.

How Do Compliance Factors Impact Your Insurance Rates?

Insurance companies use a variety of factors to determine insurance premiums. These calculations are based on the level of risk associated with a particular carrier. By keeping risk levels low, trucking companies can secure better insurance rates. Here is a closer look at how these factors can influence insurance premiums:

Drug Tests

Consistently mandating drug and alcohol testing for drivers is a crucial step in ensuring the safety of commercial vehicle operations. Drivers who fail these tests must take steps to rectify the situation in order to prevent becoming a safety risk. Additionally, incorporating drug and alcohol screening during the recruitment process can help to minimize the risk of hiring an impaired driver.

Safety Scores

CSA scores are an essential metric for determining the risk associated with a trucking company. High CSA scores may indicate an increased likelihood of accidents or safety violations, which can make it challenging for trucking companies to find suitable insurance coverage. By implementing a compliance program to lower CSA scores, trucking companies can improve their risk profile, making it more likely that they will be able to secure insurance coverage at more favorable rates.

Pre-Trip Inspections and En-Route Inspections

Pre-Trip Inspections: Compliance programs place a significant emphasis on pre-trip inspections. Trucking companies and drivers must have procedures in place to review the following:

  • Safety and operational equipment including brakes, lights, tires, and mirrors
  • Proper documentation including licenses and registration
  • Compliance with weight, load securement, and hours of service regulations.

En-Route Inspections: Compliance programs also focus on en-route inspections, where the driver must regularly inspect the vehicle to ensure that all safety and operational equipment is in good working condition. They must also ensure compliance with weight, load securement, and hours of service regulations. Reporting any issues discovered during these inspections can help to prevent accidents and reduce the risk of costly fines.

How Can Safety Scores Be Improved?

There are several ways to improve your CSA (Compliance, Safety, Accountability) score:

  1. Conduct regular safety meetings and training sessions for drivers and staff to ensure compliance with safety regulations.
  2. Implement regular vehicle inspections and maintenance to ensure that all vehicles are in good working condition.
  3. Implement a strict drug and alcohol testing program for drivers to ensure they are not operating commercial vehicles while impaired.
  4. Develop a comprehensive driver recruitment process that includes background checks, drug tests, and driver history evaluations.
  5. Monitor drivers’ hours of service to ensure compliance with regulations and prevent fatigued driving.
  6. Promote a culture of safety within the company, encourage employees to report any safety concerns, and take appropriate action to address them.
  7. Regularly review and analyze data from inspections, crashes, and other violations to identify areas for improvement and make adjustments as needed.
  8. Seek the help of compliance consulting firms that can assist with compliance and regulatory compliance.

By implementing these steps, trucking companies can improve their CSA scores and reduce their overall risk level, which can lead to potential savings on insurance premiums.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, CSA (Compliance, Safety, Accountability) scores are an important metric for determining the risk associated with a trucking company. High CSA scores may indicate an increased likelihood of accidents or safety violations, which can make it challenging for trucking companies to find suitable insurance coverage.

By implementing a compliance program to lower CSA scores, trucking companies can improve their risk profile, making it more likely that they will be able to secure insurance coverage at more favorable rates. Additionally, compliance programs, such as regular vehicle inspections, mandatory drug, and alcohol testing, driver recruitment process, monitoring of hours of service, and promoting a culture of safety within the company can help trucking companies improve their CSA scores and reduce the overall risk level. This, in turn, can lead to potential savings on insurance premiums.

Don’t let high CSA scores impact your trucking insurance rates. Trust the experts at J.E.B. Insurance Services, LLC to help you navigate the complexities of trucking insurance and ensure that you’re getting the coverage you need at the best possible rate. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you. We provide commercial and owner operator truck insurance in Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas, Tennessee, Illinois, Iowa & Nebraska.

David Ott

David Ott