Personality tests could be key to insuring young drivers

SAN ANTONIO — Drivers younger than 25 could become part of the solution to the motorcoach driver shortage if better pre-employment screening and tracking methods are developed, said Tim Delaney, senior executive vice president of passenger transportation underwriting at Lancer Insurance in Long Beach, N.Y.

During the panel discussion “What’s Hot, What’s Not” at Motorcoach Expo 2018, audience members asked about the insurance industry’s decision to deny coverage to drivers younger than 25 years.

“By the time somebody is 25 they have already made a life and career path decision,” said one attendee. “We have had several people who were passionate about driving and wanted to see the country and be involved in the motorcoach industry but couldn’t because of insurance regulations.

“Do we see in the future maybe a softening of those regulations to allow younger people to come in before they make a decision that pulls them away from a driving career?”

The insurance industry has a role in driver qualifications, Delaney acknowledged.

“The reason those guidelines exist is strictly actuarial. When we dig into the numbers, we realize that a huge chunk of expensive claims come from people in that 19- to 24-year bracket,” he said.

“It is about risk taking. It is not about age. If you are a risk taker you shouldn’t be driving around with people. It is that simple. Without any better tools to manage it, the initial reaction is to not insure those people. That is an imperfect reaction that the insurance industry has had for a long time.”

The insurance industry may adopt a different view, Delaney said.

“We have seen the development of personality tests that have proven to be way more relevant to determining whether somebody is a risk taker. As those tools prove themselves effective, they will creep their way into the system. Some of these personality tests are pretty predictive as a measure of whether or not you are a risk taker.

“The other thing I would say is that some of the new technology that is coming in to monitor behaviors by telematics, along with some of the wonderful training programs that are arriving, will help us become more focused on the person than their age. We might be able to open up that pool of younger drivers,” Delaney said.

Expo exhibitor MEE (Making Eligibility Easy) of Milton, Ontario, offers a Driver Safety Quotient (DSQ) survey that can be completed in 10 to 15 minutes online, said Charlie Charalambous, director of client services.

The survey measures behaviors along six trait pairs: resistant/accommodating, anxious/calm, impatient/patient, distractible/focused, impulsive/cautious and thrill-seeking/apprehensive. Individual scores can be evaluated with the positive and safety risks associated with each trait.

Charalambous said MEE is working with insurance providers to apply the DSQ to their processes.

“I work with a lot of safety managers and insurance risk managers who like the product,” he said. “However, at this point, I do not have an insurance company that will provide any kind of a discount or recommendation based on the survey results. This is something we are actively trying to reach.”

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