Transit agencies are finding it increasingly difficult to find, purchase, and maintain adequate and affordable insurance coverage for public transit vehicles. The number of smaller insurance providers is decreasing due to the volatile nature and demands of the insurance industry and insurance coverage requirements in general. Not only is the cost of adequately insuring all the vehicles in every transit agency increasing, but the ability to cover costs for each agency’s individual policy premiums is a challenge as well.
Historically, all transit providers, both urban and rural, have been adversely affected when the costs of insurance premiums increase with no commensurate increase in coverage. Premium increases can result in additional administration costs and require reallocating service delivery funds to administration. Small rural transit agencies often face the largest cost increases due to their small fleet sizes and high annual mileages per vehicle. However, some effective loss prevention and training efforts have contributed to helping maintain premiums at a manageable cost.
State departments of transportation (DOTs) are responsible for safeguarding federally funded program assets. Some DOTs actively support the acquisition of insurance coverage for vehicles operated in public transit services. Given that state DOTs have differing policies on who is responsible for acquiring insurance for program vehicles and if vehicle insurance is directly funded, reimbursed, or not funded by the DOT at all, the proposed research is needed to help provide guidance on how to enhance risk management activities, including effectively managing vehicle insurance pools.
The objective of this research is to provide state DOTs and their public transportation partners with a guidebook on how to effectively implement a statewide and/or regional pooled transit vehicle insurance policy model. The guidebook will be specific to Federal Transit Administration (FTA) direct recipients and subrecipients of the Formula Grants for Rural Areas program (49 U.S.C. 5311) and Urbanized Area Formula Funding program (49 U.S.C. 5307) who are using rubber tire transit vehicles. The guidebook should address the following, at a minimum:
- The benefits of overall risk management and loss mitigation improvement strategies,
- Cost efficiencies based on economies of scale on vehicle insurance premiums and how administrative costs may change,
- An implementation work plan that includes a responsibilities matrix, timelines, and mitigation strategies to address barriers to implementation.