Team Driving and Slip Seating
August 23, 2016
Author: Jason Engler
With rising equipment costs, regulatory mandates, and customer demand for faster shipment times, fleet managers are turning to slip seating or team driving to keep their operations viable. Slip seating refers to when a driver isn’t assigned a specific truck, but rather gets into one once another driver returns from their route. The vehicles rarely sit idle. This model is seen more often among local operations or those with dedicated routes. Team driving is defined as a team of two or more drivers who ride together and drive the same truck in shifts. This essentially allows the truck to remain in motion almost constantly and is used primarily for time sensitive freight. Slip seating and team driving come with a new list of exposures that insurance companies are working into their underwriting guidelines as the industry changes.
Vehicle maintenance is a top concern among insurance companies. When trucks are constantly on the road, there is less time for regularly scheduled maintenance; this raises some safety concerns. With the vehicle constantly in motion, the wear and tear is much greater than that of a vehicle operated by a single driver. Main components, like tires or brakes, wear out faster and could potentially lead to safety issues if routine maintenance is not performed regularly on these vehicles.
Another consideration from an insurance company’s point of view is the additional exposure that team driven or slip seating operations have. Typically these units are operating twice as many miles, which indicates twice the risk for accidents and exposure to potential loss. Some insurance companies will not insure these types of operations, while others may increase the premium significantly to cover the additional exposure.
In the face of a driver shortage, many motor carriers are turning to team driving or slip seating to get the most out of their fleets and improve customer satisfaction. From an insurance standpoint, the market availability becomes more limited and underwriters may be concerned about this additional exposure.