When considering a career as a professional truck driver, all too often our past can catch up with us. Whether it be violations on our driving record or former mistakes we’ve made such as misdemeanors or even felonies, suddenly we can find ourselves in a position of not being able to obtain the CDL license. Even certain medical conditions could cause your dream of entering over the road truck driving to fade away. Many times, people will discover things such as these after they’ve completed the truck driving training, and by then, of course…it is too late.
I receive the same two questions from newcomers to the trucking industry over and over…“Will I be able to pass the DOT examination?” and “Will a trucking company hire me?” In my opinion, these are the wrong questions to ask. If you have anything on your record that is questionable, be it points on your license, criminal or medical, that you feel may cause you trouble passing the DOT exam or getting hired, it really does not matter if you can pass the DOT physical or even if a trucking company hires you. These two questions are not what you should be asking.
“Am I an insurable driver?” That is the question!
Everyone tends to believe that it is entirely up to the Medical Examiner and/or trucking company to decide if a person is qualified to operate the commercial motor vehicle. It is not. Ultimately, the final decision will always rest with the insurance company of the particular motor carrier. This is why so many new drivers have gone through the process: passed the DOT physical, been hired on by the carrier, and two weeks later receive that call or qualcom message that they will have to return to the home terminal and be removed from the company.
Even if the medical examiner states that the driver in question, in his or her opinion, can operate a CMV safely based on the meds that the driver is taking, (and that is all the company needs to hear), the ultimate decision lies with the insurance carrier. Furthermore, if a company accepts a driver with a questionable (criminal) background, a few weeks later you could find yourself having to turn the truck back in and returning home without a job. Why? Because even though the company and medical examiner “accepted” the driver, for whatever reason…the insurance company declined to insure the driver.
When it comes to the medication that a driver may be taking, the insurance carrier may always have the “fear” that the driver could suddenly stop taking their meds. As irrational that this may seem to the driver, the insurance company will have their own rules and guidelines to go by. A perfect example would be Bipolar depression disorder. This condition can easily be controlled by the right medications. However, the insurance carrier must always ask the question and wonder about what would happen if the driver decided to stop taking the prescribed meds? The same goes for various other conditions…diabetes, high blood pressure and so forth.
For the most part, drivers will naturally stay on their meds, but insurance companies have to look at the possibilities of how the trucking life can interfere with the driver’s daily routine. What if the driver is running hard for the week and simply “forgets” to take the meds? We all know how stressful truck driving can be…what if it is only a matter of “forgetting?”
Insurance carriers look at these types of situations on a case to case basis. This is why you will hear of one driver with a medical condition being insured and everything is fine…yet, another driver with the same condition is terminated. Why? Only the insurance company knows. Something that they read, heard or whatever…made them decide that insuring the particular driver would not be in their best interest.
I see this very often in cases involving criminal or even misdemeanor violations. How many of you have gone through the truck driver training, received your CDL, have been hired by the trucking company, and a few weeks later found yourself dismissed from the job for a DUI that occurred ten years prior? It is because the insurance carrier, not the medical examiner or the trucking company, the insurance carrier…failed to insure you…for whatever their reasons.
Understand, that there are thousands of drivers operating commercial motor vehicles with these types of situations, so this is not to say that if one applies to you, then you should immediately “give up” on your goal of becoming a truck driver. You should, however, stop relying on the basis if you will be able to pass the DOT exam or if trucking companies will hire you. You need to look deeper into the realms of how trucking really works.
One of those realms are the insurance carriers. Are you an insurable driver? That is the question.