As we get ready for the new year, join our Vice President of Compliance, Matthew LoPorto as he discusses key updates that are being made to compliance requirements impacting group health plans in 2024.

Join Relation Insurance as we help you Look Towards 2024: What Regulatory Changes Will Impact Your Employee Benefit Plans

Looking Towards 2024: What Regulatory Changes Will Impact Your Employee Benefit Plans


Matt will highlight what regulatory changes are being made and focus on how employers can most effectively maintain compliance. Some of the topics that we will be discussing are:

  • ACA affordability rules and the new electronic filing requirement.
  • Transparency in Coverage and how it applies to plan sponsors and group health plans.
  • How the Consolidated Appropriations Act impacts Mental Health Parity and the employer’s obligation to conduct and document a comparative analysis.
  • Updates being made to Medicare Part D coverage and how that will affect employer group health plans.
  • An overview of changes being made to State Leave and State Disability Laws.

This webinar will serve as a critical step in maintaining compliance with the ever-changing regulatory landscape of employee benefits and a great way to get a head start on ensuring compliance throughout 2024. That’s not all! Matt will also share his takeaways from the latest Council of Insurance Agents and Brokers’ Legal Counsel Working Group meeting which took place a few weeks ago at the law offices of Steptoe and Johnson in Washington DC. The Legal Counsel Working Group of the CIAB focuses on advocating on behalf of its member groups in the employee benefits and insurance space at both the federal and state level.

Stay ahead of the regulatory curve on your employee benefits and keep growing your Relationship with compliance by joining us for this essential webinar. With so much valuable content, this webinar is a must-attend event.

About The Speakers

Matthew LoPorto
Vice President, Compliance at Relation Insurance
Matthew LoPorto is the VP of Compliance for Relation’s employee benefits team. Matt leads a team that provides compliance support to ensure our groups are meeting federal and state requirements applicable to benefit plans. One of Matt’s responsibilities also includes monitoring newly proposed and enacted legislation at the State and Federal level to make sure that our teams are better prepared for the ever-changing regulatory landscape of insurance and employee benefits. Matt has over 10 years of experience in the insurance and group benefits industry with a focus on regulatory compliance and is a member of several industry advocacy groups including the Legal Counsel Working Group of the Council of Insurance Agents and Brokers. Matthew graduated as an evening student from Brooklyn Law School.

With the creation of our newly formed Relation Select group and the opportunities it represents for our company, we needed an operating team to lead this new venture. Our recent acquisitions of former Nationwide-exclusive agents/agencies not only provided a strong roster of producers, they also brought us several proven professionals who are ideally suited for this role. As a result, we are pleased to announce the operational leadership team for Relation Select.

Named to the team were Katy Ringeman, Chief Operating Officer; Mallory L. Lester, Client Service Director; Mike Alfred, Sales Leader; and Elizabeth Benton, Finance Director.

“They will provide a unique insight into the needs of small commercial- and personal lines-focused businesses that partner with us, particularly those that were a part of Nationwide’s exclusive distribution model and recently transitioned to independent brokerages,” said Joe Tatum, Relation’s Chief Executive Officer.

“We are excited to lead the Relation Select brand,” said Ringeman, whose Hiller Ringeman Insurance Agency was Nationwide’s largest exclusive agency at the time of their joining Relation Insurance. “The resources and carrier relationships we offer will greatly benefit agencies who join Relation, providing significant growth for our company and partners.”

The new team brings operational experience from well-respected agencies in the Nationwide network. Hiller Ringeman earned the Nationwide Insurance All-Star Award five straight years—an honor provided to the top 12 agencies within the country. Lester comes from Laufer Insurance, which was ranked in the top 25 of all Nationwide Agencies for 26 out of the last 27 years. Alfred and Benton were both with Glick Insurance, one of the largest Nationwide Insurance Agencies in the country and a Nationwide President’s Conference and All-Star Team member.

“We’re fortunate to have this level of experience and expertise on the team,” Tatum said. “No one has a greater understanding of the challenges these independent producers face. It’s gratifying to think about the support and opportunities we’re going to be able to offer so many agencies.”

Learn more about the Relation Select Operating Team.

Relation Select Operating Team

Katy Ringeman, Chief Operating Officer.

Katy came to us with the Hiller Ringeman Insurance Agency, Nationwide’s largest exclusive agency at the time of their joining Relation Insurance. Under a combined family leadership with her father and brother, their agency earned the Nationwide Insurance All-Star Award five straight years—an honor provided to the top 12 agencies within the country—as well as the Triad Family Business Award and the Nationwide Insurance Regional Community Service Award. Katy started her career handling claims for Nationwide Insurance until 2004 when she started a scratch Nationwide Insurance agency, ultimately merging with her father’s and brother’s agencies in 2016.


Mallory L. Lester, Client Service Director.

Mallory began her full-time career with Laufer Insurance as an Associate Agent in January of 2015, after spending four years of seasonal employment with the agency while obtaining her BA and MBA degrees. She spent time in every agency department in order to gain a holistic degree of experience. In 2019, Mallory was named Operations Manager of the agency after the completion of three sizable mergers. She currently holds her Life and Health and Property and Casualty Insurance Licenses as well as her Series 6, 63, and 65 FINRA licenses.


Mike Alfred, Sales Leader.

Mike has been successfully leading sales teams in the insurance and financial services industry for more than 13 years. Prior to joining us, Mike’s roles included VP of Sales and Managing Partner at Glick Insurance, one of the largest Nationwide Insurance agencies in the country. During his tenure, he was instrumental in bringing sales and technology resources together to drive organic growth throughout the company.  Before joining Glick Insurance, Mike was a successful Territory Sales Director with Nationwide Financial in Western North Carolina and New England.


Elizabeth Benton, Finance Director.

Elizabeth, like Mike, came to us through the Glick Insurance partnership. In each of her eight years with Glick, the agency was named to the Nationwide President’s Conference and made the All-Star Team four of those years. While there, she helped coordinate 15 agency acquisitions and manage 20 locations. She was also instrumental in helping with the transition from Nationwide exclusive to an independent agency in 2020, including implementing an agency-wide Management System. Prior to joining Glick, Elizabeth spent 10 years in the banking industry.


Looking To Join Relation Select?


If you’re a Nationwide producer looking to join the Relation Select team contact Tim Hall, Executive Vice President and Head of Mergers & Acquisitions directly at (312) 714-7279 or by email.

Email Tim Hall, Relation Select


Original Article appeared in The Insurer on May 19, 2021:

Aquiline-backed Relation Insurance Services is looking to secure an MGA platform to build out underwriting capabilities around the specialty retail brokerages it has been acquiring over the last two years on a growth trajectory that has seen run-rate revenues pass $180mn, The Insurer can reveal.

The Walnut Creek, California-based broker consolidator is seeing an acceleration in its deal volume that began when Jeff Greenberg-led Aquiline bought into it back in 2019. It completed seven transactions in 2019, 10 in 2020 and has already done nine deals in the first four months of 2021.

Speaking to this publication, Relation’s executive vice president and head of M&A Tim Hall (pictured above) said the firm could have done 30 deals last year.

“We have the pipeline to do 80 this year, but we’ll probably do between 30-40 transactions in 2021,” he commented.

“We’re firing on all cylinders now after taking a couple of years to get the process going, the right people in place, getting in front of bankers and advisors and getting the story out there,” he said.

As previously reported, a big driver of recent deal activity has been the broker’s strategy of acquiring former Nationwide exclusive agents to add to its recently created business unit, Relation Select.

Relation picks up acquisition pace

But Hall said that those firms only account for around 25-30 percent of its active pipeline.

“The rest are in our existing business units, our new platforms, and we’re also looking at an MGA strategy,” he explained.

The executive said the MGA strategy had been part of the plan when Aquiline invested and would see Relation take some of the specialty businesses it has acquired and look to build underwriting capabilities around them.

“The preference is to focus on specialties that coincide with our existing specialties and our thesis is to acquire those capabilities because building them is really hard,” he commented.

Hall pointed to the attractiveness of acquiring an MGA writing small commercial programs and the potential to vertically integrate commission streams across underwriting and broker platforms.

The strategy bears some comparison with those launched by retail consolidators Hub International and Risk Strategies with their respective Specialty Program Group and One80 offshoots.

The executive said that Relation has looked at a number of potential acquisitions over the last two years.

“It’s a strategy we’re pursuing, and I’d love to have MGA capabilities internally within the next 12 months, then start to harvest some of our specialties, flow them through the MGA, and then develop new ones, adding teams and tuck-ins,” he commented.

Proprietary deals

Hall – a former Waller Helms partner and managing director brought in by Relation CEO Joe Tatum in 2019 – said the firm has a strong preference for proprietary deals, which account for around 80 percent of its current pipeline.

“We’ll always participate in a process but will remain disciplined. We try to sell the merits of partnering with Relation and we have a good story,” he said.

Although he acknowledged that Relation bears similarities with other private-backed-backed consolidators in the distribution space, the executive said that because the firm is at a different age and stage to many of its peers its story is resonating in the marketplace.

It is able to offer potential acquisitions the opportunity to be the platform to open up into new territories as part of Relation, which has tripled the number of states it is in over the last two years, but still only has a presence in 18 states and has plenty of scope for geographical expansion.

“We’re the beneficiary of our equity story because our growth is going to look like a hockey stick,” Tim Hall quote

“We’re the beneficiary of our equity story because our growth is going to look like a hockey stick,” he said.

“So folks understand why we’re paying what we’re paying and know we think there’s going to be a real return on the equity component in a shorter time frame compared to selling to someone further along in their development,” the executive added.

The Nationwide distribution roll-up has been building a head of steam in 2021, and among its several acquisitions Relation has bought the first and third largest of the mutual’s former exclusive agents with deals for Laufer Insurance Services and the Michael Glick Agency/Glick Insurance Group.

Looking to join Relation? To learn more, contact Tim Hall, Executive Vice President and Head of Mergers & Acquisitions directly at (312) 714-7279 or by email.

Email Tim Hall, Relation Select

While your people depend on you. You can depend on us. This is why we focus on one thing.

The decision-makers who are passionate about protecting their organization’s welfare and their colleagues’ well-being. And at the center of this, is a sense of trust, and our commitment to provide our partners’ the collective resources needed to realize their ambitions.

This is how we build businesses. By investing in our relationships.

We look for the right fit, for partners who share our expertise and entrepreneurial mindset. It helps create mutually beneficial relationships.  This is why our network is growing so fast.

It’s not just the products. It’s our culture.

At Relation, we have a culture of trust that supports everything we do and promotes an experience that’s unique in our industry. It gives our acquisition partners the freedom to invest themselves in client relationships and create change within our firm.

Our culture of trust allows us to be locally focused and decentralized while providing the collective resources clients need to realize their ambitions.

It’s the foundation of relationships that last, which is why we have low turnover and loyal clients – which is also how 100-year old companies become 100-year old companies.

We reach our goals together.

We strategize for the long term and are there to see it through. We listen and make people feel cared for, which are the right things to continue doing.

At Relation, business is personal. Because, we are more than just a company — we are a culture of trust.

Are you ready to learn more about building your business and investing in your relationships? Email Tim Hall, Head of Mergers & Acquisitions for Relation, to discuss joining the Select Family.

Email Tim Hall, Head of Mergers & Acquisitions for Relation, to discuss joining the Select Family.


Michael Glick still carries the same set of values he did when he started in the insurance industry 27 years ago.

“When you tell someone you’re going to do something; you do it. Period.”

This is a lesson Glick learned from his father. Something he holds close to his heart. It is what has made Glick a top producer at Nationwide for 20 years and earned him a spot in the Hall of Fame. And a true testament to his consistency in service to not only his clients, but his team.

“When I make a promise, I commit to fulfilling that promise,” Glick said.

Glick recognized this same set of values in Relation when deciding to transition from a Nationwide-exclusive agent to an independent agency under the Relation Select brand. Relation Insurance has long been known as a place where a handshake still means something. In fact, CEO Joe Tatum personally flew to North Carolina to shake hands with Michael, meet his wife and kids, and talk about what the move would mean for him, his family, and his team at the dinner table.

“Relation feels like a family firm. I know I will never get lost at Relation or be just a number,” Glick said.

Glick is not the only agency that has recognized Relation as a destination firm that feels like home. Relation is in discussions with at least six other top Nationwide agencies, who happen to be close friends with Glick and his team.

“Some of my best friends are Nationwide agents. To have them join the Relation Select family is exciting. Together, we can continue to build something wonderful and continue to enjoy coming to work every day,” Glick said.

While Relation feels like a family firm, its deep carrier relationships and access to more markets provide an incredible opportunity for Nationwide independent agents looking to make the transition.

“We believe Relation Select will offer significant growth opportunities to former Nationwide-exclusive agents and independent agents that focus on small commercial and personal lines solutions,” said Tim Hall, Executive Vice President and Head of Mergers and Acquisitions for Relation.

And Nationwide agrees.

They believe in the value Relation provides and added Relation Select to the shortlist of approved companies for their independent agencies formerly part of their exclusive distribution model.

To learn more about the opportunity and experience firsthand what Michael Glick and many other agents have, contact Tim Hall at [email protected]

Email Tim Hall, Head of Mergers & Acquisitions for Relation, to discuss joining the Select Family.

At Relation business has always been personal because we believe in building teams and investing in relationships. We carry this core value throughout everything we do, from how we support our staff to how we service our customers.

We are proud to expand that same level of commitment to “Main Street” focused businesses through the formation of Relation Select. 


Relation Select Logo


What is Relation Select? 

Relation Select will support small commercial and personal lines customers through partnerships with existing local agents, primarily on the east coast. Providing local agencies with access to various insurance solutions and support, as well as the ability to leverage our broad range of products

This will help agents invest further in their relationships with current clients. While also provide better pricing to their customers while retaining the flexibility and nimbleness of a small local agent invested in his/her community. 

A growing interest in the Relation Select Family. 

Since news broke about Relation’s interest to partner with existing independent agencies in local markets, we have received numerous calls from agents looking to explore the opportunity. 

The first to officially join the family is Michael Glick, of Glick Insurance Group. Glick Insurance Group provides insurance solutions across 20 different locations in North Carolina. Glick may be the first, but many former Nationwide exclusive agents are either already in discussions to merge forces with Relation or in the beginning stages of the talks. 


Tim Hall quote about Relation Select


What makes Relation Select so enticing? 

Local independent agents have a lot of opportunities when looking to partner with a larger firm. For the agents interested in Relation, the reason is not just the ability to scale. It’s our people. 

From the top-down, our entire team is invested in supporting businesses looking to grow. To us, our agents are family. Joe Tatum, the CEO, has personally flown to sit at agents, like Michael Glick’s, dinner table to spend time getting to know each other and their family. 


Joe Tatum, CEO quote about Relation Select


Connect with Tim Hall

Are you interested in exploring an opportunity to grow with Relation Select? Email Tim Hall, Head of Mergers & Acquisitions for Relation, to discuss joining the Select Family. 


Email Tim Hall, Head of Mergers & Acquisitions for Relation, to discuss joining the Select Family.

Every year, Relation hosts a National Sales Meeting which brings Producers and leadership together to share learning from the previous year and set goals and a game plan for the year ahead. Teams from different business units share ideas, strategies, client resources and technology tools. It’s also an opportunity to get the latest news on company activity. This year’s meeting was held at the J.W. Marriott resort in Las Vegas, NZ, February 5-7. The theme was 2020: Vision for the Future, Focus on the Goal. Below are some highlights.


Day One: Focus on The Vision

We kicked off the general session with a very special guest and partner to Relation, Steve DeCarlo, Executive Chairman of AmWins. AmWins is a global specialty insurance distributor with expertise in property, casualty, professional lines and specialty group benefits products. Steve’s keynote covered his inspiring personal story and the AmWins growth story, which fired up the group and laid the groundwork for the future-focused theme of the day.

Steve was followed by our CEO, Joe Tatum, who crystallized the meaning of this year’s theme by sharing his vision for Relation to be a 100+ year company and the plan in place to get there.

“We must always be growing and investing, and preserving our culture is key.”
Joe Tatum 

Summit Club Awards

Relation wouldn’t enjoy the growth it experiences today without the drive of its Producers. Our annual Summit Club awards go to the very best of the best–those Producers who are able to hit a set number in written new business, all while partnering with service teams to provide legendary service to their existing clients. The 2019 Summit Club winners are:

  • Jimmy Stewart
  • Kevin McCarroll
  • Yogi Yeend
  • Sean Kelly
  • Hector Corona
  • Elissa Sanchez
  • Johnathan Lancaster
  • Steven Billings
  • Paul Tamburri

Achieving Summit Club, while recognition of an individual’s accomplishment, is often a team effort and a testament to the collegial sales culture at Relation. According to Steven Billings: “Johnathan [Lancaster] and I completed three deals together in 2019. I wouldn’t be able to hit the numbers I have, and vice versa, without us partnering to cross-sell. He’s a valuable resource.” Summit Club winners and their guests will celebrate their success in Scottsdale, this spring.

Team Building Event

We welcomed 6 new firms to the Relation family of brands in 2019 and had set aside time to officially meet and celebrate the new Producer faces at the very beginning of the day. This year’s team-building event, “The Amazing Chase”, coming at the end of day one, was designed for newcomers and veterans alike, to have some fun and get to know each other. Teams from each region were assigned scavenger hunt tasks to complete and capture progress on an iPad.


Day Two: Focus on the Goal

The first general session of the day gave a “look inside” to various in-house specialty resources Relation has that Producers can take advantage of to meet their goals and better serve their clients. 

Afterward, CFO Chris McKechnie and EVP M&A, Tim Hall, both took to the stage and provided inspiring overviews on our projected growth and strategy for the coming year. 

In the afternoon, attendees reconvened and split their time amongst four breakout sessions covering the array of resources Producers can access to serve their clients, along with deep dives into industry trends and hands-on sales trainings and strategies. 

They also spent time with our President and COO, Ed Page, and CEO Joe Tatum in one of our consistently most highly-ranked sessions: “Ask Me Anything.”

The final keynote session was delivered by motivational speaker, Brian Parsley. He offered insight into the psychology of sales and shared words of wisdom on  sales effectiveness, customer loyalty, and leadership strategies that close deals.



Last year, our community of Rockstar Producers exceeded expectations by focusing on their goals and our clients. We look forward to another great year in 2020 and the new opportunities that lie ahead! 2020: Vision for the Future/Focus on the Goal. 






How do you want to be remembered? I worked with a football coach that often repeated this to his team, and find it an interesting question for athletic trainers and anyone involved in helping provide healthcare to consider. At Relation, we care about helping our clients lead safer and healthier lives—that’s at the core of how we operate, and it’s one of the things we want people to remember about us.

That service mindset really resonates with me because I spent my entire athletic training career caring for and supporting student athletes, and striving to keep athletes at the center of every decision. My mentor consistently modeled this for me as he cared for the players and managed the conflicting interests, especially with coaches who tried to influence medical decisions.

Today, athletic trainers are still confronted with outside pressures that might not have the best interests of the athletes at heart. But, over the years, the field has seen an increased awareness of, and emphasis on, athlete-centered care in sports medicine, which has significantly influenced the decision-making process for both healthcare providers and athletes.

Practicing Athlete-Centered Care

It is now understood that one of the primary obligations as an ATC is to provide athletes (patients)—or, if applicable, their families or healthcare surrogate—with the information they need to make an autonomous decision about their healthcare. The healthcare provider should educate the patient about their specific illness/injury, the best practice available for their condition, and options for care based on the evidence, coupled with the short and long-term risk/benefits of each option. Additionally, the healthcare provider should determine the athlete’s values and goals that may influence the recommended course of treatment. (“Managing the Health of the Elite Athlete,” published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, has some interesting thoughts on this subject.)

As an example of how athletic-centered care can look in practice, one orthopedist I worked with always followed the same multi-step method of educating patients: first, the doctor laid out the current research and evidence, then discussed their personal experience dealing with the condition, and then would offer three to four options for care and potential outcomes. The options could range from doing nothing to surgery, and it was up to the patient to take all of that information and decide their course of treatment.

The Importance of Transparency and Trust

After receiving all the information, the athlete and/or their parent usually asked me for my thoughts. They trusted me to be an unbiased voice of reason, especially pertaining to treatment and return-to-play decisions, and how that decision could impact the athlete later in life.

Giving a recommendation requires weighing the evidence, the physician preference, and the athletes’ goals in a delicate and deliberate way that gives attention to all parties and avoids conflict of interest. Keeping the patient at the center of the decision also requires an athletic trainer to strive to find a balance between evidence and preference. “Evidence, Preferences, Recommendations — Finding the Right Balance in Patient Care” by Timothy E. Quill, M.D. and Robert G. Holloway, M.D is a useful read about reconciling this tension.

When I offered advice, I was very mindful that my ultimate responsibility is always to the patient and their welfare, both immediate and long term. Many times I reminded the athlete to not only consider the present, but also think down the road—how will this decision affect them in 20 years? I asked about their life goals and listened closely to contextualize how their present-day healthcare choices could impact those goals: “You say that you want kids, and here is how this choice could impact your ability to run and play with them.” In these moments, I found transparency and trust to be essential, and the human connection that was required to discuss honestly often had the added benefit of forging life-long relationships.

Athlete-Centered Care’s Long-term Impact

Following these patient-centered principles does not always ensure a good outcome, but it does ensure that the patient had the information to make the best decision at the time. The athlete is the one who will have to deal with the impact of the decision for the rest of their life, so it is important to empower and support them in the decision-making process.

An athlete-centered approach also has the side benefit of having people remember you as someone who was honest and truly cared. Two years ago, an athlete I treated in 1985 called me looking for a surgeon recommendation because they trusted me and knew, even all these years later, that I would help them. And, earlier this year, a former football athlete reached out to my wife on Facebook with an affirming message to pass on to me:

As I get ready to go to bed and turn 40 tomorrow, please tell Andy that he was right. As I sat in the fieldhouse with the doctor getting ready to inject me so I could play and not lose my starting position, Andy looked at me and said, “You’re going to regret this when you’re 40,” and I said “I may not make it to 40.” Well I made it and Andy was right…but I am pretty sure I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Just let Andy know how much I appreciated him. I knew he was on our side and cared for us and I am, and always will be, grateful.

Keep the athlete at the center of all you do, and it will positively impact them—and you—for longer than you may know!


Andy Massey is an Athletics Risk Consultant for Relation Insurance. His career in intercollegiate athletics spans three decades, including Director of Athletic Training at Tulane University (LA); head athletic trainer at Appalachian State University (NC), where he also taught in the Department of Health, Leisure, and Exercise Science; and head athletic trainer at Wofford College (SC). Andy now consults with intercollegiate athletic departments across the U.S. and also serves as an ATC Spotter for the NFL. Andy can be reached via email at [email protected] or on LinkedIn.

Click here to learn more about Relation’s insurance solutions and services for Intercollegiate Athletics.

For trucking and transportation companies, managing insurance isn’t for the faint of heart. Premiums are on the rise, legal settlements are increasing, and equipment is getting more expensive. In addition, new rules and legislation are changing how safety is understood and measured. As the landscape shifts, technologies that help put driver safety at the forefront are playing a key role in reshaping the industry, and also allowing technology-adapters to reduce risks and position themselves more in the driver’s seat. 

Understanding Increased Premiums

Trucking insurance premium increasescombined with increases in climbing equipment costs, driver pay, and, recently, fuel⁠—are putting pressure on trucking companies to reduce expenses where they can. According to the American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI), the average carrier cost per mile for truck insurance increased from $0.064 in 2013 to $0.075 in 2017, and the Wall Street Journal found “The cost of truck insurance premiums rose 12%, on average, to 8.4 cents a mile, in 2018 from the previous year.”

Here’s a couple of reasons why premiums have been increasing for years for trucking companies:

Nuclear Verdicts

The severity of claims fueled by nuclear verdicts⁠—settlements that range in the millions⁠—has increased dramatically in recent years. The enlarged size of jury awards and settlements can partly to attributed to the increased frequency of court cases referencing data from FMCSA’s Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) program.

CSA data is used to identify motor carriers with safety issues and prioritize them for warning letters, interventions, and/or investigations. The data is updated monthly and is organized into seven categories, known as the Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Category scores (BASICs). Five of the seven BASICs are publically available online through FMCSA’s Safety Measurement System. (Congress removed some CSA data from public view in December 2015—including the Crash Risk Indicator and Hazardous Materials BASICs—due to concerns about the data accurately portraying carrier performance.)

With BASIC scores like Hours of Service, Unsafe Driving, and Vehicle Maintenance openly accessible, lawyers can use compliance history in combination with accident details to try to establish negligence in a court of law. This strategy can result in high jury verdicts and defense costs.

As a result, claims that might have been $200,000 five years ago have risen to $500,000 in some cases. Significantly higher settlements, jury verdicts, and fear of potential jury verdicts have increased reserve forecasts, which in turn have had a direct effect on defense costs and insurance premiums. Premiums that may have averaged $6,000- $7,000 earlier in the decade can now run 20-50% higher, especially if the voluntary insurance market continues to decline and State Assigned Risks programs are the only takers.

Some companies believe the factors that contribute to BASIC scores have no direct correlation to how safe they are as a company. Although the CSA scoring is not perfect, the methodology is directionally accurate and typically the motor carriers that complain about their scores do not perform as well as their competitors. When carriers choose not to invest in safety policies and proven safety technologies, it is arguable that profitability is being placed ahead of safety, which can further increase litigation costs.

CSA Scores Changing to More “Rigorous” Data-Driven Model 

Currently, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) uses CSA scores as the primary means to identify high-risk motor carriers. But a new statistical model⁠—the IRT model⁠—being explored by the FMCSA would utilize data to measure a motor carrier’s “safety culture,” rather than attempt to predict its likelihood of a crash, according to a piece in Transport Topics. However, it has been widely reported that FMCSA officials will not make a decision until September 2020 about whether to adopt the IRT model, which is complex and may be difficult to explain to the trucking industry.

In this litigious environment, carriers that choose to invest in safety technology and embrace statistical models will have more data-driven resources to help try to dissuade claimants from landing a lottery-type award.

Improving Safety Proactively

Instead of just going along for the ride, trucking companies can consider taking matters into their own hands by investing in technologies that can help substantially reduce risks, as well as  gathering data that can reinforce a culture of safety. In many cases, the cost of avoiding one nuclear verdict may offset, or even pay for the investment. Here are a few of the most popular safety technologies being implemented by trucking companies:

  • Dash Cams: Dashboard cameras on trucks are becoming table stakes and have already been positively reducing premiums. In some cases, cameras can completely eliminate a possible accident claim which would had been a difficult “he said / she said” battle in the past. Even in the case of a head-on collision, dashboard cameras simplify determining who is at fault. An easy video review process can even exonerate a driver on the spot.
  • Collision Avoidance Systems: Smart anti-collision technologies that sense when a vehicle is getting too close, and apply the brakes on behalf of the driver, are already mitigating risks. While the technology has been around for several years, more 2020 rigs promise to come equipped with this technology already in place, and other retrofit options have recently come to market for older trucks. These technologies don’t just help drivers avoid accidents; they also lay the foundation for safer practices by collecting data that can be used to retrain drivers, or to create full driver safety programs for a company to make the entire fleet safer. While equipping rigs with collision avoidance technology may cost $30,000-$50,000 extra, with fewer collisions, diminished severity of claims, and more affordable premiums, the dividends can pay off down the road.
  • Anti-Fatigue Technology: A slew of innovative new technologies are beginning to hit the industry to help diminish driver fatigue. While dash cams can retroactively show whether a driver was asleep at the wheel in the event of an accident, predictive technology can reduce the likelihood of dangerous scenarios. For example, fatigue meters technology uses hours-of-service logs to predict driver fatigue levels, updating managers with thorough assessments for every driver in the fleet. Wearables (like a Fitbit-like device) are similarly analyzing fatigue by measuring body movements, assessing sleep quantity, and predicting when alertness will start to decline. Even facial mapping technologies that look for symptoms of fatigue from a driver’s face, such as yawning or head nodding, can estimate driver alertness.

Data gathered from these new safety technologies can not only help identify and sideline potentially dangerous or fatigued drivers, but also help lead to more personalized training and hours-of-service regulations for each driver to increase safety. 

It’s been said that you can’t stop progress. In this case, technology has come to the trucking and transportation industry. While retrofitting trucks with safety-centered technology or buying new trucks with technology already installed can seem expensive and arduous for many industry veterans, encouraging a safety-centered culture that protects drivers can pay off in the long term in the form of reduced accidents (and lawsuits), as well as lower premiums. Those in the industry quickest to embrace a safety-first mentality and support it with the best tools and protocols currently available will be ready to evolve and be more attractive to potential employees.


Peter Smelzer, AAI, AIS is a Fleet Risk Advisor for Relation Insurance Services. He can be reached at [email protected] or on LinkedIn

Each year, we strengthen our balance sheet and reputation because of a consistent track record of growth and profitability. Over the years, we’ve also received recognition from various prestigious publications in the Bay Area and nationwide.

For the last three years running, Relation was named among the top 45 firms on Insurance Journal’s Top 100 Property/Casualty Agencies. During a time of evolution for the insurance sector, where some insurance brokerages are struggling to adopt to new ways of doing business, Relation’s agile approach to connecting the dots between people, process and technology has contributed to consecutive years of revenue growth.

Relation has also received the Elite Agency award from Insurance Business America for the last three years. Additionally, each year Insurance Business America  surveys its readers to cultivate an impressive list of women whose personal and professional achievements have earned them a place among the industry’s best. In 2015 and 2016, Keri Lopez, President of Employee Benefits at Relation, was honored as one of the industry’s “Elite Women.”

We also regularly receive local recognition from the Bay Area’s authoritative sources of business news, such as being listed in the San Francisco Business Times’s 50 Top Private Companies, 50 Largest Brokerages, 50 Largest Benefits-Consulting Firms, and 50 Largest Benefits-Consulting Firms.

We are proud of these accolades, but, more importantly, we are proud of our family of brands that includes 25 acquisitions to date and brings together some of our industry’s leaders and most notable players in their respective fields.

For all press inquiries, please contact Emily Porro at [email protected].