The insurance market for bus and motorcoach operators is under pressure from many sides. Many of the troublesome issues, such as tragedies encountered around the world, are beyond the control of the industry itself, said Timothy H. Delaney, senior vice president of Lancer Insurance.
So, he said, it is more important than ever for carriers to focus on safety and risk management.
“The entire commercial auto insurance sector, which includes the motorcoach industry, is currently experiencing a hardening marketplace due to a steady increase in claims costs over the past five years. Reinsurers have also been adversely affected by global catastrophic losses combined with the poor performance of the commercial auto industry as a whole,” he said. “These losses on the reinsurance level are being felt throughout our industry as the rates for excess coverage or facultative reinsurance are rising and underwriting guidelines are tightening.”
What can an operator do to minimize premium costs and avoid being priced out of the market completely?
“Insurance is more than simply a piece of paper and a promise… it’s the very thing that can keep your company rolling along should disaster strike,” Delaney said. “So today it’s more important than ever to find an insurance carrier that will foster a working partnership with your business. Look for an insurer that will work with you to identify the right safety practices for your company and provide the support and resources you need to be successful. Identify an insurance carrier that is deeply involved in industry events such as tradeshows, seminars and conferences and has a team of experienced experts dedicated to the motorcoach industry who understands the challenges the motorcoach community faces and takes a proactive approach to solving the problems our intricate marketplace can present.”
Lancer Insurance, founded by the Delaney family in 1985, is a major insurer of motorcoach operators and works with its clients to maintain a safety culture.
“Find an insurance company that complements its insurance products with a knowledgeable claims department that will go the extra mile to keep your claims costs down and protect your operation,” Delaney said. “Importantly, look for a carrier that has remained committed to the motorcoach industry for decades and has the financial strength to be there in the future to utilize that experience and expertise to your advantage.”
Insurers and operators must work closely to ensure that adequate coverage is provided, he said.
“Obtaining the best coverage possible means getting the right insurance policy to protect your vehicles and your particular business. That starts with providing your agent with an honest and precise description of your operation, management system and safety/maintenance policies and procedures,” Delaney said. “Without these details, your agent cannot convey to the insurance company underwriters an accurate picture of your business. This could greatly affect the coverages you are provided and, ultimately, have devastating results in the event of an accident where your coverage is not sufficient.”
In the meantime, the motorcoach insurance market can be expected to challenge operators due to those global factors, he said. “Experts agree that rates in the commercial auto insurance sector will continue to rise until the industry performance settles down.”