A 3-Step Truck Inspection Checklist To Ace Your Next Inspection (+ How Truck Inspections Can Save You Money On Your Trucking Insurance)
Sep 22, 2022
No one likes truck inspections – they are long, tedious, and boring. We just want to get to our destination faster, and not risk increasing our Out-of-Service Rate (OOS) or hurting our USDOT number. But when you think about the benefits (especially to your wallet!), it’s easier to see inspections as a positive experience. In this article, we’ll walk you through our 3-step truck inspection checklist to effortlessly ace your next inspection, as well as break down (no pun intended) how truck inspections can save you thousands of dollars on your commercial trucking insurance.
Checklist For Truck Inspection
1. Always Complete Pre-Trip Truck Inspections
Completing a pre-trip truck inspection is one of the best ways to do well on inspections while on the road. Planning and completing the pre-trip inspection will also give you the peace of mind that you and the cargo you’re carrying will get to its destination on time and in one piece.
A pre-trip inspection should take at least thirty minutes to complete if you’re being thorough. Start by checking obvious things, like tightening lug nuts, checking under the hood, and simply making sure the truck isn’t leaning. Since there isn’t an exact order to check these things, we suggest creating a routine that focuses on one section of the truck at a time. This way, you’re not jumping from side to side and can make sure you don’t overlook something.
2. Keep Your Truck Clean and Organized
A commonly missed component is keeping your truck clean and organized, both on the outside and the inside. Reducing build-up will make inspections quicker and help maintain the condition of the truck. This will also maximize the resale value of the truck, if that’s important to you.
If external parts of the truck are coated with dirt, it will be clear to the inspector that you have not checked them recently, which will send up a red flag. The inside of your truck is a similar story. It’s good to know where your papers are to avoid out-of-service driver inspections. Keeping your documentation organized and in a location that you’ll be able to access and supply quickly will show that you are prepared and organized.
3. Stay Transparent During Truck Inspections
When it comes to the inspection itself, be completely transparent with the inspector. It’s better to show that you know what’s going on with your truck than try to hide something and have the inspector think you’re careless. If you find a screw or a tire tread showing signs of wear, let them know that it’s on your radar. This will demonstrate that you know everything that is going on with your truck, and that they can trust you to keep it in good condition.
An inspector can usually tell when you’re shooting from the hip. Hearing, “it was fine when I checked it this morning,” is a common excuse that inspectors are tired of hearing, and they will probably assume you didn’t do a pre-trip inspection and that other issues are likely to be found. Also, always be respectful to the inspector. Like you, they are just doing their job and they likely won’t be nice to someone giving them a hard time or the cold shoulder.
How Truck Inspections Can Save You Money on Commercial Trucking Insurance
So, now that we have a checklist for your next truck inspection, let’s put the icing on the cake and talk about how inspections can also save you more than a few dollars. Here’s how:
1. Truck Inspections Lower Your Out-Of-Service Rate (OOS)
If you are running under your own authority, you may be aware of your Out-of-Service Rate (OOS) attached to your USDOT number. If you fail an inspection, your OOS percentage increases.
You can calculate your OOS rate by dividing the number of failed inspections by the number of inspections. For example, if you failed one out of 5, your OOS percentage would be 20%. The national average, as of 8/26/2022, is 21.66% for vehicle inspections, 6.27% for driver inspections, and 4.46% for hazmat inspections if applicable. It is very important to keep your OOS percentage below the national average because the closer you are to 0%, the more money in your pocket!
If you currently have a high OOS rate, but have since resolved issues, try to hit truck inspection stops more often in order to lower your OOS percentage. Having a low OOS rate won’t help you at that exact moment but will drastically help reduce the price of your insurance at renewal. Having your percentage at 0%, or near it, will reduce any rate that isn’t the baseline rate and will avoid being non-renewed by a trucking insurance carrier, which would leave you scrambling to find a new insurer (and it is rare that the new insurer will be cheaper).
Even after following all these tips, you may still see slight premium increases at renewal due to industry-wide insurance rate increases. Unfortunately, this is out of your control. However, you’ll likely still be paying much less because a poor OOS percentage can result in your insurance premiums increasing (sometimes even double). In some cases, a poor OOS rate will force you to use excess markets, which are usually around 4x the cost of standard market carriers. If you already have a poor OOS percentage, these tips could cut your premium in half within a few years – if you get below the out-of-service national average.
Once you have a few years under your belt and have a low OOS rate, it will be a lot easier to get multiple quotes from insurers and find the right coverage at a great price. If you currently have a high OOS percentage, try following the tips above.
2. Commercial Truck Inspections Improve Your Truck’s Reliability
Another way inspections save you money is that the truck will be more reliable. When driving a well-maintained vehicle, you’ll encounter fewer unexpected events on the road that could result in damage to your vehicle, other vehicles, property, and yourself. Having insurance will cover the damages, but you’re still required to pay your deductible before they pay any repairs.
Any claim will also affect your insurance rates for 2-3 years depending on the carrier if you aren’t 100% not at fault. A clean record will make it easier for your insurance agent to find your insurance at a great price and make you an attractive customer to a handful of insurers when your policy comes up for renewal.
3. Truck Inspections Give You Confidence To Increase Your Deductible
Lastly, by taking good care of your truck, you will feel more confident increasing your physical damage deductible, which will reduce your Auto Physical Damage premiums. As a refresher, deductibles are what you pay out of pocket when an accident happens - if you know that your truck is in tip-top shape, it will likely break down less often and sustain less damage in the event of an accident.
Next time you're about to hit the road, make sure to follow our truck inspection checklist to breeze through your inspection and keep your truck in the best condition possible. Not only will this save you time on the road, it will also save you money on your commercial trucking insurance, which can make every difference as a trucker.
And if you’re looking for more effortless ways to save time and money, check out LuckyTruck - 700+ truckers see us as the easiest way to buy and manage their trucking insurance.