Northland Insurance
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Northland Insurance introduces risk management tools to mitigate crashes, theft

Aug. 17, 2023
Risk management tools offered by Northland Insurance leverages the evolution of data analytics to help commercial vehicle operations improve safety and efficiency.

There are some expenses fleet maintenance operations can’t avoid, like rising parts and labor costs. But preventing accidents and deterring trailer and cargo theft are two areas where shops can be proactive with their budget, avoiding emergency costs and keeping assets on the road.

Northland Insurance, a commercial trucking insurance company, saw this as an opportunity to come up with new risk management tools to help customers protect their assets, improve driver safety and efficiency, and even lower their cost of insurance premiums.

The company’s Northland Innovation Network is a group of service and hardware providers that includes cameras and telematics catering to Class A interstate trucking, according to Northland Insurance president Donato Monaco, who added that there are several areas of cost benefits like fuel efficiency and keeping trucks on the road because they aren’t getting into accidents.

“We’re in two camps—driver safety, accident reduction, and mitigation and the other is cargo theft, prevention, and recovery,” Monaco said. “We can reduce accidents and lower the total cost of insurance, primarily around driving and physical damage. The cargo theft is a whole separate bundle that we've been working on.”

Safety and efficiency

Trucker Path, an app offered in the innovation network, helps fleets navigate to the lowest-cost fuel station nearby, the most fuel-efficient routes, or even reserve a safe parking spot at the end of a cross-country trip so drivers aren’t looking for one in the dark.

“If you have a tractor-trailer, you’re not going to go underneath an 11-foot bridge because they have safe truck routes for you,” he said.

Drivers can also upload their freight information in the app along with their trailer ID, bill of lading, and license plate number, which is sent to Northland’s Special Investigations Group in the First Notice of Loss feature.

“We’re the only insurance carrier in the industry who has a dedicated full-time team that does cargo theft investigations,” he said. “They're connected and working on this daily, looking for the right local authority, state authority, or federal authorities to notify and quickly provide that notice. They have the ability to go and recapture many of the lost cargo loads.”

He said they’ve recovered over $80 million in cargo theft over the years.

Cargo Net recorded 582 events across the US and Canada in q2 of 2023, which is a 57% increase compared to the second quarter of 2022. Thieves stole over $44 million in shipments in the second quarter of 2023 and the average lost shipment value per event increased from nearly $100,000 to $260,703 per theft. Monaco suggests the reason behind rampant cargo theft in 2023 possibly boils down to more sophisticated technology when booking freights and smarter criminals who are now picking loads that have the most resell value, instead of driving away with what used to be a mystery bag of stolen goods. 

Accident reduction and mitigation

Controversy may surround the use of inside-facing AI cameras to detect driver performance—but pair that with gamification, where the safest drivers are recognized and rewarded with time off or bonuses instead of being punished for unsafe driving, and it’s a win-win. 

The Azuga Safety Driven Telematics, which provides score cards with safe driving rewards from Amazon, Walmart, and Burger King, enables fleet managers the ability to control their drivers' phone usage when the vehicle is in motion, and sends speeding alerts with regards to posted speed limits.

The netradyne AI dashcam, also offered in the network, has optional in-cab audio driver coaching.

Outside-facing cameras have less controversy, unless, of course, you’re the person trying to set up an accident and faking an injury.

“Someone will say, ‘Hey, the truck went through a red light and the person had no intent to commit fraud,'” he said. “But clearly, we see that the light was green or maybe yellow. There’s some way to either prove or disprove two conflicting stories.”

Benefits of telematics

Northland’s apps aren’t just to aid in times of crisis like accidents and theft, the benefits of preventive maintenance and fuel efficiency are apparent when telematics come into play here, too.

Managing speed, hard braking, or quick acceleration can have a meaningful difference in fuel efficiency, which is one of the largest costs, he explained.

“You can take the aggregate data and come up with best practices and coaching, or we can do some training for them,” Monaco said.

The brake pads are also given sensors so shops don't have to take a truck off the road to check the brakes. It’s up to the sensor to alert when it's time to change them. 

By signing up with the network, customers agree that Northland will receive device data for their own research and to analyze risk correlations, but Northland says the data will not be used for underwriting or rating policies.

Discounts are offered to customers who sign up with their preferred vendor, like a 10% savings on annual premiums or up to $300 off (per enrolled vehicle) annually.

About the Author

Cris Beaulieu

Cris Beaulieu is an Associate Editor for Fleet Maintenance magazine. She joined the team after working in local news media. She earned a bachelor’s in journalism at Cleveland State University along with a TV and Radio Broadcast degree at Ohio Media School. 

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