Being an owner-operator is tough work. It requires many hours on the road and, too often, many days away from home. It also involves considerable risk — risk of business profit or loss, and risk of accidents and personal injury. Owner-operators, whether operating under their own authority or leased onto a motor carrier, need to protect themselves from work-related injuries and the financial consequences that can follow.
Owner-operators in most states are not required to carry workers’ compensation on a compulsory basis. Owner-operators in these states have the option of buying workers’ compensation or Occupational Accident Insurance, which is an insurance policy that is specifically designed to insure owner-operators for certain work-related injuries. Owner-operators will often opt to buy Occupational Accident Insurance because it’s usually much less expensive than workers’ compensation insurance.
Occupational Accident Insurance policies typically provide three broad areas of coverage: Accidental Death and Dismemberment (AD&D), Accident Medical and Disability. Disability coverage is usually divided into two components: short-term disability (also known as Temporary Total Disability), and long-term disability (also known as Permanent Total Disability). Occupational Accident Insurance policies can also be endorsed to cover non-occupational accidents, passenger accidents, and certain other coverage enhancements, such as hernia, occupational disease and cumulative trauma.
Beyond protecting the owner-operator and their family from the financial consequences of an unexpected accident, Occupational Accident Insurance can help insulate motor carriers and shippers from lawsuits by uninsured owner-operators seeking employee status in order to gain access to the motor carrier’s or shipper’s workers’ compensation policy. Many motor carriers sponsor an Occupational Accident Insurance program as a risk management tool, but also to help recruit and retain owner-operators.
However, not all Occupational Accident Insurance programs are alike. In fact, coverage, limits, terms and conditions can vary widely among insurance companies. One of the most significant differences between insurance policies is the handling of pre-existing conditions.
Most Occupational Accident Insurance policies contain exclusion for claims involving re-injury or aggravation of a prior medical condition. Because of the physically demanding nature of truck driving, and the high turnover rate within the truckload segment of the trucking industry, a pre-existing condition exclusion can leave the owner-operator, motor carrier and/or shipper without Occupational Accident Insurance protection. Other things to look out for in Occupational Accident Insurance policies are exclusions for accidents that arise during certain parts of a workday, such as while at rest and during overnight stops, and the requirement to have a current and valid CDL as a condition of coverage.
Internet Truckstop, through our insurance partners, McGriff, Seibels and Williams, is pleased to offer a new Occupational Accident Insurance program for our members. The Occupational Accident Insurance policy provides broad coverage and does not contain exclusion for pre-existing conditions, thus providing superior insurance protection for owner-operators and the motor carriers and shipper that rely on their services.
To learn more about our new Truckers Occupational Accident Insurance program, visit www.truckstop.com/OccAcc today!
Author: Joe Foxall, President ITS Financial Services