It’s not only about the trucks; it’s the person in the seat

It’s not only about the trucks; it’s the person in the seat

The insurance game isn’t only about trucks, trailers, and cargo. It’s also about the industry’s most important asset – its people. So says Sharné Liebenberg, head of logistics & transportation at APIO Group.

In an industry that never sleeps, fleet owners and operators can easily find themselves caught up in the daily tasks of their businesses – the inevitable nuts and bolts that need to be tightened and adjusted. The multitude of challenges faced to keep businesses afloat and the wheels (profitably) turning can be overwhelming.

In a recent conversation with Liebenberg, we were pleasantly reminded that the transport industry is not only about the logistical planning, the trucks, or the commodities conveyed. It’s also about the people.

With representation in 24 countries throughout Africa, when APIO Group – an Olea group company – thinks  “transport”, they think “people”, and we like that! It’s a necessary reminder of the true heavyweights of the transport industry – those sitting behind the steering wheels.

Considering the variety of vehicle applications and their respective unique risks to underwrite, insurers and intermediaries often forget the basics – which ultimately start with the individual in control. “We need to understand what they see, experience, and deem important for their own well-being and safety – and, by default, the goods under their control,” stresses Liebenberg.

Mitigating risk could be managed by something as simple as a driver’s selection of a safe truck stop to pull into for the night.

The South African Minister of Transport, Fikile Mbalula, cited jaywalking, speeding, and overtaking across barrier lines as some of the leading causes of road fatalities (Jan 18, 2022). Each of these highlights the risk of people – not systems or technology – in transport.

Liebenberg says a fleet owner’s history alone should no longer be the main determinant when rating risk. “The human – with their cognitive analysis, experience, understanding, and (ultimately) decision-making ability – is what, or rather who, we should consider,” she notes.

Fleet owners typically take responsibility for risk management at a macro level, seldom ensuring that this passes down the line to their drivers in a meaningful or practical way.

“Drivers’ involvement is still underestimated, and to a large extent only considered relevant when licences, permits, age, or nationality are used as underwriting tools by insurers,” says Liebenberg.

“We’ve overlooked this crucial point for too long,” she continues. “By changing the approach to rather understand the ‘human impact’ to underwrite, not just the vehicle application itself, I believe the industry will bear witness to a significant change regarding which rating factors to include in needs analysis.”

Published by

Sharné Liebenberg

Sharné Liebenberg is the head of logistics & transportation at Apio Group, part of the Olea group of companies, a pan-African brokerage. She is a specialist heavy commercial broker offering risk assessments, analysis, and advice on all topics related to the trucking industry's insurance associated areas across Africa.
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