New laws around transport and logistics safety have just taken effect. IB spoke to the experts at NTI to find out what this means for those who insure the sector
This has been a significant year for the transport and logistics industry, thanks in no small part to the introduction of new Chain of Responsibility [CoR] legislation that took effect at the beginning of October.
The new CoR law is designed to ensure that all parties in the supply chain are responsible for compliance with Australia’s Heavy National Vehicle Law. Already it has presented insurers working in the transport and logistics space with a number of challenges as new enquiries pour in from non-traditional sectors.
For NTI, the transition has been relatively smooth, which Mike Edmonds, NTI’s general manager for commercial, attributes to a strong internal culture that’s designed to ensure a high-functioning operation. Emphasis on customer service is oft touted among insurers, but it’s a commitment that NTI takes extremely seriously.
“Quite simply, it’s our service differentiation,” he says. “It’s what we are known for and what sets us apart.”
Four drivers of success
In practical terms, Edmonds says NTI’s key customer service drivers can be broken down into four categories: expertise, claims, access and innovation. Collectively, these paint a picture of what genuine claims expertise and customer service should look like.
“Expertise is fundamental as a specialist,” Edmonds says. “Our people are our experts, and our modern technology enables this expertise to go to another level.”
Accordingly, NTI invests heavily across a variety of fields. With experts in business development, claims and underwriting across its transport, plant and machinery, and marine markets, NTI is able to create its distinctive product offerings.
“The fulfilment of the promise at claims time is the protection of assets at work – time off the road for a transport operator is a major cost, but it can be mitigated with the right insurer” - Mike Edmonds, NTI
In terms of claims, Edmonds stresses that NTI does not simply “handle” claims. An entire internal division dedicated to parts purchasing, recoveries, settlements, emergency response and repair management works alongside NTI’s claims teams.
From an external perspective, NTI also has a 24/7 Accident Assist offering that enables policyholders to lodge a claim and receive emergency help, as well as a Premium Repairer network to get trucks back on the road more quickly than the market average, and accredited tow operators and close relationships with manufacturers.
“This allows us to get the best outcome for transport operators, whilst making it easy for brokers to do business with us,” Edmonds says.
In a more practical sense, having locally based bricks-and-mortar offices across the country allows brokers to deal with NTI on a personal level.
“We pride ourselves on being easy to get hold of, whether face-to-face or on the phone,” Edmonds says.
NTI has supported all of the major transport associations for more than 30 years, giving back to ensure a safe and sustainable trucking industry. This has helped NTI develop numerous innovations within the field as the needs of the industry evolve, and the company has built a list of achievements of which it is justifiably proud. Among these were the first 24/7 Accident Assist line for insureds in the heavy motor industry, the first ‘guaranteed repairs for life’ offering in the heavy motor industry and the establishment of the nationally recognised National Truck Accident Research Centre, which publishes an Annual Crash Report.
“We don’t rest on our laurels, and we continue to evolve,” Edmonds says. “Our product innovations are frequently adopted by others in the industry.”
Securing transports assets
NTI’s investment into customer service has paid off – the company provides roadside assistance to more than half of the new trucks on Australia’s roads every year. Edmonds feels NTI’s dedication to its customers has also provided the company with some key insights into how business operators should select an insurer.
“Firstly, get expert advice,” he suggests. “Find a professional broker who provides you advice as well as price. Make sure they’re accredited, interested in your business and come recommended.”
The second step, he notes, is for transport and logistics businesses to take an interest in insurance as a risk mitigation strategy. They should regularly assess the value of assets to make sure insurance coverage is commensurate, and brokers should make sure their clients understand the policy features, as well as any additional benefits and services provided by the insurer.
“Know the full picture on what you get and, more importantly, what happens at claims time,” Edmonds advises. “The fulfilment of the promise at claims time is the protection of assets at work – time o‑ the road for a transport operator is a major cost, but it can be mitigated with the right insurer.”
Last but not least, Edmonds advises business owners to look at the other risk management tools and offerings out there and actively reduce risk where possible.
“The recent introduction of the Chain of Responsibility legislation highlights what a transport insurer should do, and NTI has also produced a series of guides to assist insureds through this process,” he says.
Winds of change
Though the CoR legislation is relatively new, NTI has already seen considerable interest and action on transport safety from consignors of freight. For many of these companies, it’s the first time they’ve reviewed their risks beyond their loading dock.
“These aren’t transport business as such,” explains Adam Gibson, transport and logistics risk engineer at NTI. “They’re manufacturers, wholesalers and importers.”
Gibson believes this new interest should be viewed as a positive thing, as the new legislation encourages consignors to select transport providers on the basis of safety and compliance, rather than just cost. Accordingly, NTIhas worked with industry experts to develop a CoR Health Check that includes a variety of online risk tools and templates to help businesses of all sizes understand their compliance obligations.
“We’re going to see a significant change in the risk profile of transport businesses as a result of technological changes” Adam Gibson, NTI
However, he remains uncertain as to whether ongoing change in the CoR space will drive safety innovations. There’s always a possibility that the increased interest in safety due to legislative changes will grow stagnant.
“The key to this will be whether there’s a rise in the number of prosecutions of significantly non-compliant parties who are considered high in the chain,” Gibson says. “This includes consignors or directors, who are typically far removed from the actual transport operations.”
Gibson does see technology as a major driver of increased safety for drivers in the coming years. “We’re going to see a significant change in the risk profile of transport businesses as a result of technological changes,” he says. “Real-time fatigue monitoring, the take-up of electronic work diaries, automatic emergency braking and lane departure warnings will all have a part to play.”
It’s also hard to look past the ever-present topic of driverless technology; Gibson acknowledges that “it’s certainly coming – but when and to what extent is the obvious and still unanswered question”.
Still, he believes two factors will remain constant, no matter what technology transport and logistics operators choose to invest in. “It must solve a problem, and the system must work for them – not the other way around.”