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BUSRide Field Test:




ohn Miller, president of Miller Transportation, knew he chose the right insurance provider when it became clear that this wasn’t the typical insurerinsured relationship. “They’re really responsive,” he says. “It’s an ongoing relationship. I feel very comfortable calling and texting them any kind of quick question. I know I don’t need to go through bureaucracy in order to get an answer.” Miller Transportation has been providing reliable interline scheduled route bus service throughout the Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan and Tennessee region for more than 25 years. Though the family business has been around since 1939, the company was incorporated in 1977. It’s currently run by the third generation Millers. The Miller fleet consists of 47-passenger and 55-passenger motorcoaches, 44-passenger school buses and 29-passenger shuttle buses. The provider Miller chose, Protective Insurance Company, boasts more than 80 years of providing insurance to the transportation industry. Protective is licensed in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and all Canadian provinces and provides coverage for transportation fleets of all sizes. In addition, the company offers a public transportation insurance program that provides comprehensive coverage specifically for charter and tour bus companies, school bus contractors and limousine services. Forming a bond Miller Transportation, after being with a different provider for years, made the switch to Protective coverage in 2010. John Miller was drawn to Protective because he’d had a previous insurance relationship with one of the company’s agents and wanted to preserve that continuity. “For a long time, they were with a competitor of ours,” says Scott St. Clair, Regional Sales Manager, Public Transportation at Protective. “I don’t think they were getting the level of input and service that we provide our customers. They weren’t really being engaged from a safety and loss prevention standpoint, but they liked what we had to offer.” Despite the history, Miller was surprised to see just how in-depth the staff at Protective was willing to go in setting up a relationship with their new client. “We were very happy with them since the onset,” he says. “They invited us up to their headquarters almost immediately. They engaged us and allowed us to speak to their representatives so that they could have a better understanding of our business. We taught them about what we did while also learning about their capabilities.” Todd Carrier, Director of Risk Management at Protective, has a staff of safety and risk management professionals who consult with transportation clients. They worked roundthe-clock, as much as needed, with Miller to make sure that their relationship would be a fruitful one. “When our partnership began with Miller, just like with all of our customers, we do what’s called a New Account Visit,” Carrier says. “We went to their facilities and talked to them about our service offerings. They were very receptive to that and appreciative of our hands-on approach.” Carrier says that because of their relationship-building methodology, the adoption of the Protective partnership was fairly seamless. “One thing that makes us a little different than some of 2


our competitors, and some of Miller’s previous insurance companies, is that we spend much more time on-site getting to know our customers’ operations,” he says. “We’re spending at least a day on-site with them. We really feel like that develops a closer relationship and also a trust factor.” “Our partnerships differentiate Protective,” St. Clair says. “We’re not just delivering premiums at a price. We’re providing comprehensive loss prevention and claims services.” Making changes Early on, Protective and John Miller identified some personnel and procedural changes that could easily be integrated into their current operation to improve their output. “Those conversations can sometimes be difficult,” Carrier says. “It requires a lot of discussion on both sides and a lot of collaboration with other executives and key stakeholders. Sometimes the suggestions we make are met with resistance. There can be difficult conversations about who has what kind of authority, or about people who aren’t performing to the position they’re in.” John Miller and the Protective team ultimately agreed upon solutions that made good business sense for Miller Transportation. “Discussions with Protective brought me to the realization that personnel changes were in order,” Miller says. “We went through a few changes in both personnel and structure before we got to the comfortable feeling we have now.” Unexpected opportunities Early in the collaboration process with Protective, Miller Transportation unfortunately experienced some unexpected claims in the form of accidents. Thankfully, the flourishing relationship between the companies yielded positive results. “We used a collaborative approach and performed an indepth review of Miller’s safety program components, while giving them an assessment of the overall safety culture of the organization,” Carrier says. “We then rolled up our sleeves, helped them with regulatory improvements and also provided guidance for the establishment of an accident review committee. Now they have not only the tools to investigate what happened, but also to prevent accidents like these from occurring in the future.” Proactive vs. reactive As with any changes to a safety or risk management program, results are not seen overnight. Aside from unforeseen issues, it’s difficult to have patience to set a longterm plan and execute it. “Sometimes the plans we put in place with our customers can take anywhere from one to three years to realize the intended results,” Carrier says. Carrier says that the Protective team strives to be trusted advisors to their customers. They don’t want to be seen as third-party inspectors or auditors, but rather business consultants. “Immediately, they felt as though they had someone they could call when they had questions regarding coverage” says Stacy Renz, Vice President of Sales, Public Transportation at Protective. “Whether it’s a DOT challenge or an issue with an employee, they can call us and receive an answer

Al Daoud, senior loss prevention specialist at Protective Insurance Company. 3 | BUSRIDE

almost immediately. That was a service level they did not have in the past.” “We were able to have much more candid and open conversations,” Carrier says. “When we would go there and visit onsite, there was a visible improvement in the safety culture.” Under the new relationship, Miller Transportation saw a transition from a reactive safety program to more of a proactive safety culture. “Sometimes people in the safety field get caught up with treating symptoms but not addressing the problem,” Carrier says. “If you’re walking through a maintenance facility and you see a puddle of spilt oils, treating the symptom would mean cleaning up the oil. Solving the problem means finding out where the oil came from and making sure the spill doesn’t happen again.” Other benefits John Miller notes that Symbol “1” insurance status and competitively priced premiums were other elements that attracted him to Protective. Furthermore, vehicle telematics have provided many unforeseen benefits to his business. The GPS-equipped devices installed on his buses were installed for safety as a cost-savings and driver coaching tool that alerts Operations when hard braking, speeding or other events occur. “If a customer goes to our website, they can take advantage of the device’s GPS and see where our bus is and all of our scheduling,” Miller says. “It’d be tough to live without it now, because it helps our responsiveness and the customer-facing aspect is great. Protective involved us in a pilot program for safety, but it’s helping many aspects of the business!” “This technology helps John better understand the true performance of his fleet,” Carrier says. “As a transportation operator, his business is dispersed. It’s out on the road and highways. This helps him, and his customers, be more connected.” Moving forward Recently, Miller Transportation made a huge step by investing in a driving simulator, allowing the company to train new drivers or put at-risk drivers in retraining situations. “That really shows a dedication and commitment to safety,” Carrier says. “That was a significant investment and we were extremely proud of John for taking that step. He has a real desire to achieve world-class safety.” For his part, John Miller is happy with the way his ongoing partnership with Protective is going. He praises Protective’s expanded offerings, such as seminars and coaching about major industry safety initiatives. He frequently sends his staff to the Protective home office to take advantage of those perks. The partnership has also included business networking and referrals between the companies. The biggest compliment any organization can receive is a recommendation. With this, Protective and Miller look forward to many more fruitful years.

John Miller, president of Miller Transportation. 4


Official BUSRide Field Test: Miller Transportation with Protective Insurance Company  

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