The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) maintains records and provides scores for motor vehicle operators, but the system and its importance are not always understood by agents. Awareness and compliance, however, is key to finding competitive rates.
“Agents don’t always know what a CSA score is,” says LevelFirst Transportation specialist Kelley Sanchez. “Motor vehicle operators understand it, but aren’t always aware of how it can affect their premiums.”
Launched in 2010, the CSA score stems from a safety enforcement program driven from compiled data on driving, vehicle maintenance, hours of service, driver fatigue, controlled substance violations, and crashes. Much of the data comes from the 3.5 million roadside inspections and 100,000 crash reports each year. The score reflects on both the vehicle and the driver. The lower the score, the better the risk.
“Most auto carriers use the CSA in determining the risk,” Sanchez explains. “The higher the grade, the worse it is- most want a score in the ‘blue area’ which is around 65 points or fewer.”
Sanchez says that some companies will consider risks up to 87 points or more but anything above 87 will more than likely be heavily surcharged.
Perhaps the most important component for insurance carriers is vehicle maintenance. While larger companies have safety managers to handle the process, smaller companies are held to the same level of compliance.
“Vehicle maintenance is paramount,” Sanchez says. “Issues outlined in a citation should be corrected immediately.”
Failure to perform maintenance can result in vehicles being pulled out of service. Sanchez says risks with multiple out of service violations won’t be considered by some carriers.
For carriers, experts suggest an awareness of the CSA score, regular examining of data for accuracy, having systems in place to address safety deficiencies, as well as driver training and monitoring can help maintain an attractive score and keep premiums low.
LevelFirst has access to a variety of markets for large and small commercial auto. Kelley Sanchez is available to provide answers to transportation market questions. For more information, visit LevelFirst.com or call 512.279.4721.