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Shift your 10-ton insurance load

We're all Business

Posted on Tuesday, December 2, 2014

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In 2011, Japanese manufacturer, Isuzu, produced the largest number of trucks ever to be manufactured in one year. The company's total equalled 447,359 for the entire year. This record has yet to be beaten. However, not many people know of this massive manufacturing rollout because even though trucks are a daily part of our lives, they remain nebulous to the greater population. We don't think of trucks as anything more than minor irritants for drivers on the go or as large cargo carriers taking our everyday essentials to-and-fro. But can you imagine the business vehicle insurance premiums for motorcars which operate 365 days a year?

For people who work in the transport and logistics industry, trucks are the bedrock of our modern-day civilisation, especially considering the rarity of perishable or other commercial goods being carried by train. Logistics people worry about how to ensure that trucks are well-maintained and consistently useful for the duration of their utility.

Trains used to be the go-to transport option but as of 1896, when Gottlieb Daimler created the first ever motor truck, trucks have come to take over and even dominate the position once held by those masters of the railway. In fact, the ubiquity and dominance of trucks over their railroad counterparts has reached its high point in the 21st century with the road-train. Road-trains are trucks which have been modified to carry more cargo, using more semi-trailers than usual.

Australia has the largest and heaviest road-legal vehicles in the world, so it should be no surprise that the world's largest road-train was an Australian truck that had 112 semi-trailers and ran a length over a kilometre long. When you think about equipment with so many parts as a businessman you could get a heart attack!

Not only is it difficult enough to insure a normal truck but 112 semi-trailers sounds expensive. However, once you understand the core components of a truck and then how those core components are affected during the truck's lifespan it shouldn't be that difficult. For starters, in a situation where one of your drivers was at the helm of the longest road-train in existence, then most of the insurance would be for the cargo itself (which could amount to millions), as opposed to the truck.

A savvy truck owner will know that the main components of a truck are its cab, engine and drivetrain. Most trucks have a cab-over-engine (COE) or "flat nose" cab where the driver is seated above the front axle and engine. This is a design that makes the most of the truck's turning capabilities as a result of its narrow wheelbase, making it particularly suited for mountainous and uneven terrain.

Most engines are V12, diesel-powered, four stroke engines with turbochargers and aftercoolers but since most truck engines are designed to go over a million kilometres before an overhaul or rebuild, it's bad driver practice as opposed to genuine equipment problems that break a truck's engine. So, if you do own trucks, cross-check your drivers' licences with some sort of national registry or database before handing over the keys. Also check that the truck itself is indeed roadworthy as second-hand trucks are more prone to mechanical problems than new trucks.

When you get your truck insured through an insurance provider's business vehicle insurance ; you should take note of the truck's drivetrain in addition to ambient factors such as weather damage. If the insurance provider doesn't pay particular attention to the drivetrain, then you should raise it. The drivetrain plays a particular role if the engine doesn't have a synchroniser since this will force drivers to double-clutch for each gear shift. The first clutch takes the gear to neutral, slowing the engine speed enough for it to link with transmission revs, and the second clutch is to change to the correct gear. If a driver gets this sequence wrong over a period of time it can cause quite a lot of unnecessary engine damage.

The weather comes into play when considering how the cooling and heating systems work for the engine. In extremely hot weather, you'll expect the radiator to cool the engine but if the radiator requires maintenance, it may not be enough. The converse can be said for situations of extreme cold weather, where the engine needs to idle (since most truck engines are designed to run nonstop). What you do then is ensure that the driver is properly versed in engine maintenance so that he can manually keep the engine going. Sometimes it takes as much as slowing speed or revving higher to produce the right balance for the engine to combat surrounding weather.

Trucks are a big part of our lives and just as car insurance should be at the top of any responsible driver's list, insurance of heavy-duty commercial vehicles should be a priority for any sober-minded business. In fact, making sure that trucks are kept well-maintained, drivers are kept knowledgeable and cargo is kept safe not only reduces stress but it makes sure that your logistics business lives to see another day.