Driver shortage a chronic problem for inland marine insurance

Lack of qualified drivers has been exacerbated by the pandemic, expert says

Driver shortage a chronic problem for inland marine insurance

Insurance News

By Gabriel Olano

The COVID-19 pandemic and the recovery process have created huge problems for the whole insurance industry, and the inland marine business is no exception.

Despite the name including “marine”, inland marine insurance has nothing to do with the sea. Instead, it mostly involves cargo transported over land, such as through trucks or trains, or being temporarily stored in third-party warehouses. Collisions and cargo theft are among the most frequent claims for inland marine insurance.

In a recent IB Talk podcast, Rich Soja, global head of inland marine at Allianz Global Corporate and Specialty, discussed the shortage of qualified drivers to transport cargo, which has been exacerbated by the pandemic.

“The driver shortage is really a chronic problem in the industry,” Soja said. “Whenever I’ve been involved in giving presentations to brokers or the underwriting community, the lack of qualified drivers is always an agenda item.”

According to Soja, several factors, such as long hours on the road and extended time away from family, make the career of a cargo driver rather unattractive to many. This leads to an aging workforce, with fewer new entrants to the profession.

“The construction sector is picking up, which can compete for skilled labour,” Soja said. “In addition, I think stimulus checks may be providing an opportunity to stay off the road for a short period.”

With the median income of a cargo driver at US$50,000, Soja said higher pay is one of the most important solutions to the shortage.

“Historically, the motor carrier industry is a tight margin business, and driver pay is a key component of expense,” Soja said. “But if you’re competing for labour… more salary has to be on the table.”

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