Pollution coverage in commercial automobile coverage can be a tricky subject. The standard commercial automobile policy excludes coverage for pollution events unless the pollution stems from a substance necessary to the operation of the vehicle; this means substances like gasoline or brake fluid. There are three ways companies get around this exclusion – through the MCS-90, through transportation pollution liability coverage through a stand-alone policy or as part of a contractor’s pollution liability policy, or through the CA-9948 endorsement.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration uses Compliance Safety and Accountability scores to assess the safety of trucking companies and target the most at-risk companies for additional interventions. CSA scores are composed of seven BASICs (Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Category) which attempt to use data available to the FMCSA to pinpoint trucking companies with inadequate safety procedures. While most BASIC information is available to the public, the FMCSA does not make the crash indicator BASIC available to the public. However, the information is available to the trucking company itself and enforcement personnel.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration uses Compliance Safety and Accountability scores to assess the safety of trucking companies and target the most at-risk companies for additional interventions. The CSA scores are composed of seven BASICs (Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Category) which attempt to use data available to the FMCSA to pinpoint trucking companies with inadequate safety procedures.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration was created in 2000 to reduce the number of crashes involving large trucks and tractor trailers. The FMCSA tackles this approach in a number of different ways. Some of those ways involve issuing regulations and enforcing those regulations with civil penalties. But the FMCSA also a mandate to issue educational trainings to carriers and truck drives aimed at improving road safety.
The Fair Labor Standards Act sets national standards for wage and hour issues related to employees. The law empowers the Department of Labor to set eligibility standards for overtime pay as well as a series of exemptions for it. Employees who qualify for overtime under the law receive time-and-a-half pay for hours worked more than forty hours a week. Time-and-a-half pay is a 50% increase to the employee’s “regular rate of pay.”
Trucking regulators at the U.S. Department of Transportation have searched for better ways to enforce to hours of service requirements for quite some time. When electronic logging devices first became widespread, many people at the National Transportation Safety Board viewed them as great ways to reduce accidents and save lives through improved enforcement of existing regulations. Now, a new study was released that throws that logic into question.
Trucking companies got terrible news from the Supreme Court recently on the employment practices front. The Court invalidated the use of mandatory arbitration and waiver of class action lawsuits in the trucking industry. The ruling came despite numerous rulings in recent years upholding the validity of these practices outside the trucking world and was rendered unanimously.
High cost for Businesses Misclassification
California continues its aggressive moves to protect truck drivers and crack down on misclassification of workers as independent contractors. The California Labor Commission opened 2019 by awarding 24 drivers who work at the Port of Los Angeles and Port of Long Beach almost six million dollars in compensatory damages in two separate. Additionally, the Labor Commission held the manager of the 24 drivers personally liable under California law for the damages. The decision is major sign of California’s ongoing intent to crack down on these issues.
Pollution liability can be a major problem for trucking companies. Typical business automobile liability insurance policies exclude coverage for losses caused by the release of pollutants. These policies define pollutants broadly as any irritant or contaminant, including smoke, vapor, soot, fumes, acids, alkalis, chemicals and waste. At some point, most trucking companies will transport something that qualifies as a pollutant just given the broadness of the definition. Therefore, the pollution exclusion in the traditional policy can create a major gap between a company’s risk exposures and their insurance coverage.
Pollution liability for trucking companies can get very complicated. Determining what you may be covered for and what you may not be can cause major headaches while costing your company money. Trucking companies have significant exposures in this area, and the language of the standard commercial automobile liability policy and federal law do not help.