Licensing reform will cut insurance costs: broker

Overhauling licensing system will cut the high excesses and premiums the industry must pay, according to an insurance broker

Licensing reform will cut insurance costs: broker
Licensing reform will cut insurance costs: broker
By Samantha Freestone and Brad Gardner| April 16, 2010

Proposed national licensing changes will create fairer insurance rates for the trucking industry, a broker says.

Elkington Bishop Molineaux (EBM) Insurance predicts responsible trucking companies will no longer be lumped in with cowboy operators if a proposed new licensing framework becomes a reality.

The Australian Trucking Association (ATA) recently proposed a new licensing framework based on competency standards instead of time served.

The Queensland Government is currently working on a new licensing scheme proposal as part of the move to national regulations, proposing the establishment of a national skills set which must be met before a licence is obtained.

Many trucking companies with young drivers are forced to incur high excesses and premiums, but EBM’s NSW State Manager Lance Costello says a competency-based system may end that.

"A lot of it will come down to the standard of the operator themselves and their ability to compliment the new standard being introduced," Costello says.

"All people aren’t equal, and with a true data [the insurance industry] will be able to create meaningful benchmarks in which to assess each operator on their merits."

Costello says insurers currently rely on anecdotal evidence.

He blamed "fly-by-night" trucking operators for pushing up premiums, saying responsible trucking companies will get a "far better hearing" under a competency-based system.

The ATA last month pushed a new licensing scheme as a way to keep skilled drivers and fast-track driver development.

The ATA says the current method of making someone with a car licence wait two years before applying for a heavy rigid and the one-year wait to move from rigids to semi-trailers is a barrier to attracting and keeping workers.

Under the ATA’s plan, drivers with a heavy rigid licence will be able to move ahead in six months so long as they complete a TAFE or registered training organisation (RTO) course.

The ATA wants the course to cover driving semi-trailers, inspecting vehicles and trailers and planning and navigating routes. Another requirement is to record on-the-job training for a specified period.

Before handing over the ATA chairmanship to David Simon, Trevor Martyn said the industry was fighting to retain labour because potential drivers were discouraged by lengthy waiting times.

"They are expected to sit and wait, with the result that many potentially excellent drivers go off and do something else instead," Martyn said last month.

Queensland has taken the lead in developing the new driver licensing scheme, which is due to be introduced this year.

It last year released a proposal for a competency-based scheme.

If accepted, a national skills set will be developed for each vehicle class by the Transport and Logistics Industry Skills Council (TLISC) and integrated into the vocational education and training (VET) system.

"The assessment standard will be consistent across all approved assessment modes and across all jurisdictions," the proposal paper reads.

"It is intended that all heavy vehicle drivers will be subject to the same knowledge and skills requirements regardless of where in Australia they obtain their heavy vehicle driver licence."

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