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May 8, 2019 12:45 PM, EDT

Lines 'Blurred' Between Longhaul, Local Drivers With Reclassified Workers’ Comp Code, Industry Expert Says

An insurance form In the past, the National Council on Compensation Insurance used a split code between long haul and local drivers, but now it uses one code. (istock)

The National Council on Compensation Insurance last year reclassified workers’ compensation codes for motor carriers, a move that somewhat “blurred the lines” between over-the-road truck drivers and the city-local drivers who are home every night, said Sam Tucker, CEO of Carrier Risk Solutions, which provides safety and compliance services to motor carriers.

In the past, NCCI used a split code between longhaul and local drivers, but now it employs just one code, he said.

NCCI provides loss cost information to the states, which they then use to set workers’ compensation base rates, said Dan Cook, principal and practice leader at insurance broker TrueNorth Cos. Insurers then modify those rates in most states.

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Local drivers and LTL-type drivers tend to be more prone to slip-and-fall injuries, getting in and out of the truck more often, Tucker said. Longhaul drivers don’t get in and out of the truck as often. “By blending into one code, the overall rates between the two generally came out to be less expensive, especially for longhaul motor carriers,” Tucker said.

In December 2018, global insurance rating agency A.M. Best issued a report on the U.S. workers’ compensation market — citing NCCI data — that noted a rising tide of risk on the nation’s roads.

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“Despite all the safety improvements in newer vehicles, NCCI data indicates that claims involving motor vehicle accidents across the U.S. have increased in frequency over the last several years, in contrast to almost all other cause of injury groupings, which have reportedly declined,” the report said. “These accidents can be very severe and bear the responsibility for a growing number of fatal workers’ compensation claims. Trucking and other classes such as sales and service vehicles, and taxi drivers are among the risk classifications, generating a preponderance of the motor vehicle-related compensation claims.”

The report added that “the rapid expansion of smartphone ownership over the last decade may be a key factor.” Fran Matso Lysiak