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Truck Driver Appreciation Week – September 13-19th

Posted September 14, 2020 by Erin

As stated perfectly by the American Truck Association, “Nearly every aspect of daily life is made possible because a truck driver delivered the goods and resources people need. National Truck Driver Appreciation Week is an important time for America to pay respect and thank all the professional truck drivers for their hard work and commitment in undertaking one of our economy’s most demanding and important jobs. These 3.5 million professional men and women not only deliver our goods safely, securely, and on time, they also keep our highways safe. This year’s National Truck Driver Appreciation Week is September 13-19, 2020, and takes on a special significance considering the crucial role truck drivers have played during the COVID-19 pandemic. Americans in all fifty states have taken extraordinary steps to show their appreciation for the important work that professional truck drivers have done as we navigate our way through the coronavirus pandemic. From children passing out lunches, to ‘I Heart Truck’ signs across America’s highways, the public has taken notice of the essential role truck drivers play in their lives.”1

Here at Cline Wood, a Marsh & McLennan Agency, we also have a special appreciation for our truck drivers, and below are some sentiments from your service team:

“Where would we be during COVID without our truckers? They have continued to work to provide all the necessities to the country. Some of the most essential workers!” – Stacy Shaw, Fleet Unit Manager

“My Dad is a retired truck driver. I have nothing but respect for their hard work and the sacrifices they make (of time with their families) to ensure delivery of the commodities we not only enjoy but depend on every day.” – Rhonda Cox, Manager Southwest Region Transportation

“We appreciate your partnership, your allowing us to get to know your business and your staff, and the professionalism you show on the road every day.” – Dawn Perry, Middle Market Unit Manager

“We definitely appreciate all the truck drivers!” – John Cline

 

Scott Dunwiddie
Director of Risk Management

1 National Truck Driver Appreciation Week. (n.d.). American Trucking Associations. Retrieved August 28, 2020, from https://www.trucking.org/national-truck-driver-appreciation-week#:%7E:text=This%20year’s%20National%20Truck%20Driver,during%20the%20COVID%2D19%20pandemic.

 

 

Two Times You Should Update your MCS-150 with the FMCSA

Posted September 14, 2020 by Erin

Two times you should update your MCS-150 with the FMCSA.

One of the updates, the biennial update, is a regulatory requirement and must be completed every 24 months. The other update is optional, but may have a significant positive impact on your CSA scores and safety rating. Please review the following information as it applies to your motor carrier operation.

Biennial Update (Required by Law)

Each motor carrier must file the MCS-150 before it begins operations and every 24 months thereafter per this schedule:

USDOT number                  Must file by the

ending in:                             last day of:

1……………………………………January

2……………………………………February

3……………………………………March

4……………………………………April

5……………………………………May

6……………………………………June

7……………………………………July

8……………………………………August

9……………………………………September

0……………………………………October

 

If the next-to-last digit of your USDOT Number is odd, you must file your MCS-150 update every odd-numbered calendar year. If the next-to-last digit of your USDOT Number is even, you must file your MCS-150 update every even-numbered calendar year. If this is confusing, call me and I will help you determine when your MCS-150 biennial update is due.

Optional Update (Not Required by Law, but May Be Very Beneficial to Your Operations)

There are times when you may receive significant benefits from updating your MCS-150, even when not required to do so. One of the greatest benefits may be realized by correcting any previously under-reported number of power units.

If your operation has grown, and you have increased the number power units (tractors or straight trucks) in your fleet, it would benefit you to update your MCS-150. When the number of power units is under-reported, CSA scores are negatively impacted. The number of reported power units is used to calculate both the Unsafe Driving and Crash BASIC. Within the CSA algorithm for Unsafe Driving and Crash, carrier exposure is determined by dividing CSA points by the average number of power units times a utilization factor. Thus, the more power units a carrier reports, the more violation points are diluted and the lower the CSA score will be.

Conversely, reporting fewer power units may negatively affect your CSA scores. Thus, if you have decreased the number of power units, it would benefit you to wait until the required biennial update to report the lower number. You should always provide accurate information on any required regulatory report. I am encouraging you to take advantage of any regulatory provisions which lawfully benefit your operation. Thus, if it benefits your business to update your MCS-150 now, I encourage you to do so. If updating your MCS-150 will negatively impact your business, then wait until the required biennial update to do so.

Another time when it may benefit you to update your MCS-150 is if the amount of your fleet mileage has changed. Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT) for the previous year is reported on the MCS-150. If the reported total is low, your CSA scores in Unsafe Driving and Crash will most likely be higher than they should be.  Through the CSA algorithm, FMCSA actually rewards carriers who travel more miles. However, over-reporting VMT, based on the reported number of power units, may result in a severe penalty applied to the utilization factors for Unsafe Driving and Crash. Thus, a motor carrier actually obtains the most benefit by accurately reporting all miles traveled across their fleet without over-reporting the same.

Two other times when your MCS-150 should be immediately updated are to correct any mistakes which places you in the wrong classification groups of hazardous materials or passenger carrier and to ensure the correct classification of combination units and straight trucks.

If you have any questions about your MCS-150 or if you need any additional information about updating your MCS-150, our in-house Risk Consultant, Kenny Ray is available to assist. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations and the Federal Hazardous Materials Regulations are complex and have a huge impact on your business.

Kenny Ray, Risk Consultant

Fall Prevention Awareness Week is September 21-25, 2020

Posted September 14, 2020 by Erin

Preventing Slips, Trips and Falls

Fall Prevention Awareness Week is September 21-25, 2020

Sometimes all it takes is one time slipping on a wet surface to cause a debilitating injury to a worker’s back, a broken bone, or worse. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 791 work-related fatalities and 240,160 non-fatal work-related injuries due to slips, trips and falls in 2018.[1]

Once an injury occurs, a worker is typically unable to work for an extended period of time, potentially meaning less income. There could also be significant medical expenses and decreased ability to conduct your normal daily activities, making it difficult to take care of your loved ones.

WHAT CAN YOU DO?

  • ONLY WEAR STURDY, WATERPROOF WORK BOOTS  This helps keep your feet dry and prevents them from slipping off most surfaces. NO flip flops, slides, or sandals.
  • MAKE SURE YOUR WORK BOOTS HAVE GOOD NON-SLIP TREAD This helps give you good traction in adverse weather conditions and prevents slips/falls. If your work boots are old, chances are good the tread is worn down and it’s time for a new pair.
  • MAKE SURE YOUR WORK BOOTS HAVE A STEEL SAFETY TOE  This helps prevent injuries from bumps or items accidentally dropped on your foot.
  • REVIEW YOUR SURROUNDINGS  Look around you to see if there are any potential hazards, like potholes, water/snow on the ground, etc.
  • USE THREE POINTS OF CONTACT  When getting in or getting out of your truck or trailer, make sure you have either two hands and one foot, or two feet and one hand making contact with the truck the whole time. This helps ensure stability.

If you follow these basic guidelines you will drastically reduce the chance of a slip, trip or fall type of accident. Your employer and your family will also appreciate your efforts to work safer and come home happy and healthy at the end of the workday.

If you should have any questions regarding the information above or would like to discuss other safety topics, please don’t hesitate to contact Cline Wood at ph #888-451-3900 or email: safetrucking@clinewood.com.

 

[1] Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, The Economics Daily, A look at work injuries, illnesses, and fatalities on Workers’ Memorial Day on the Internet at https://www.bls.gov/opub/ted/2020/a-look-at-work-injuries-illnesses-and-fatalities-on-workers-memorial-day.htm (visited August 28, 2020).

Changes in Missouri Punitive Damages Law

Posted July 29, 2020 by Erin

Missouri’s governor recently signed into law important changes which will provide for a more even playing field in personal injury actions in this state.  The changes affect actions filed on or after August 28, 2020.

Punitive Damages

Several important changes were enacted to the relevant statute:

  • Standard of proof: “clear and convincing evidence”
  • No punitive damage award where only nominal damages are awarded
  • Evidentiary burden: evidence of intentional conduct or deliberate and flagrant disregard for the safety of others
  • Definition changed: punitive damages now only to punish “malicious conduct or conduct which intentionally caused damage to the plaintiff” or “deliberate and flagrant disregard for the safety of others.”
  • No longer includes “willful and wanton” conduct or conduct showing “complete indifference or conscious disregard for the safety of others.”

The new version of the statute also significantly raises the bar for punitive damages against an employer:

  • Plaintiff must plead and prove that employer/supervisor authorized the wrongful conduct, employer was reckless in employing an unfit agent, or employee was a manager acting in course and scope of employment
  • If employer admits liability for actions of an employee in a claim for compensatory damages, discovery is limited to employment records or documents related to the employee’s qualifications

The revised statute also imposes procedural hurdles which will limit the plaintiff’s ability to utilize a punitive damage claim for unwarranted discovery purposes:

  • No punitive damage claim allowed in the initial petition
  • Plaintiff must seek leave to amend to add punitive damages claim at least 120 days before the pre-trial conference
  • Plaintiff’s request must be supported by affidavits or other documentation which shows that reasonable juror could find clear and convincing evidence that punitive damages were justified; defense can respond with documentation defeating plaintiff’s claim. Court must rule within 45 days.
  • No discovery on punitive damages until after court allows pleading to be amended

 

Legal update originally published 7/10/20 by Roberts Perryman PC. Visit their website for more information at www.robertsperryman.com

Disputing a Questionable Towing Bill

Posted June 30, 2020 by Erin

As a trucking company, you deal with unique challenges every day, especially since the COVID shutdowns. However, no one ever wants to get the call that there has been an accident involving one of your trucks. Most important of course is checking on the health & safety of your driver, any other persons involved, and making sure emergency services are on the way as appropriate. Then, you will focus on getting the accident reported to your insurance company so they can begin the claim process. However, one of the under the radar things that is also taking place at this time – depending upon the extent of damage – is the request to a local towing company to arrive on scene and perform their services. Many times the police officer on scene initiates the call to a towing company they are familiar with. Sometimes it’s a towing company assigned by an emergency roadside services vendor. One thing is certain though; amid all the chaos of the accident your trucking company rarely is given the option to choose the towing company in an attempt to mitigate the eventual towing and related charges.

When the towing bill is sent a week or two later, it can be an anxiety-inducing experience. In recent years, it has become common to see towing companies charge $20,000 to $40,000, which can be ridiculously inflated, and then stubbornly refuse to release the truck, trailer, or cargo until the entire bill is paid. Sometimes the claim adjuster (or adjusters depending on whether multiple insurance companies are involved) can assist in negotiating the amount of the bill down to a more reasonable amount. However, if those efforts are not working, what can your company do to investigate and dispute an inflated tow bill? Here are some tips from an insurance claims journal article¹, along with some additional notes:

  1. Determine the circumstances of recovery, including the terrain, locale and hazardous material.
    •  This helps you determine whether the work performed matches up with what you know about the accident and the damage.
  1. Confirm the date of loss.
    • If the towing bill is showing a different date of loss/date of accident, that’s a red flag.
  1. Find out who called the tow company.
    • If the towing company was called by an emergency roadside services vendor, for example, are there standard rates or limits on what they can charge per agreement with the vendor?
  1. Find out when the tow company responded to the scene.
    • Is the towing company showing they arrived on scene at 4pm, when your driver says it was much later in the evening?
  1. Determine if the insured signed anything.
    • Was an agreement signed that obligated your company to pay the towing company according to the terms in the agreement? It’s always good to remind your drivers not to sign anything before speaking with your company’s Claims/Safety Manager or other designated company contact.
  1. Determine the type of equipment/vehicles used and whether each was necessary to the recovery effort.
    • If the towing bill is showing that they used multiple heavy-duty types of equipment when the details of the accident/damage didn’t require it, that’s also a charge to question.
  1. Verify the number of employees used in the recovery and how long each was on site.
    • A common line item in towing bills is 4 hours times the hourly rate, then multiplied times number of employees used. Many towing companies list 4 hours even if the actual work involved took much less time. Ask for actual times for when the work began and when it ended along with the actual number of employees used.
  1. Clarify the work performed.
    • If the towing bill line item give a generic description such as “labor” or “work time”, that’s not good enough.
  1. Verify whether cleanup was performed.
    • Another common practice of towing companies is to automatically include charges for hazardous material/spill clean-up, even if that type of work wasn’t actually performed.
  1. Obtain any photos taken of the scene.
    • Photos don’t lie, and can be great proof to support reducing the amount of the bill.
  1. Verify mileage claimed.
    • Is the distance/miles listed between the tow yard and the accident scene not accurate? Many times towing companies are calculating cost per mile/distance.

 

As always, we are also happy to assist in reviewing tow bills with you and answering your questions. Please do not hesitate to give us a call at 913-451-3900, or email us at: safetrucking@clinewood.com.

Wishing you many safe and accident-free miles!

 

Scott Dunwiddie

Director of Risk Management

Cline Wood, a Marsh & McLennan Agency LLC company

 

Source: ¹Johnson, D., 2012. How To Combat Questionable Towing Bills. [online] Claims Jounal. Available at: <https://www.claimsjournal.com/news/national/2012/05/14/206743.htm> [Accessed 24 June 2020].

 

Safely Pulling Over Off the Highway

Posted June 30, 2020 by Erin

One of the accident trends we have seen in recent months involves trucks that have pulled over to the shoulder of the highway.  Due to the higher speeds involved in highway driving and the large number of distracted drivers, these accidents can and usually do have serious, or even fatal consequences.

The first thing to remember in a situation where a driver needs to get off the highway is to determine if this is an emergency or not.  For example, if a driver receives an important phone call that demands the driver’s attention, it is the right decision to get off the highway, but this is a non-emergency and the driver should wait and get off at the first available highway exit.  In contrast, if a truck tire blows out and the driver is having trouble controlling the truck, then that is an emergency.  In that situation, try to remain calm and determine if there is an exit ramp close enough to safely reach, as it is safer to stop on an exit ramp than it is the shoulder of the highway.  If no exit is close enough, and the shoulder is your only option, remember these tips to keep you and others safe:

  • Put your flashers on and try to ease over to the right shoulder of the highway, avoiding any oncoming vehicles as you make your way over.  Never try to pull off on the left shoulder, as the left lanes are typically vehicles that are travelling at even faster speeds and passing other vehicles, increasing the chances of a serious accident.  Keep your flashers on the entire time the truck is on the shoulder.  This may be more than is technically required, but it helps other drivers see your truck, which lessens the chance of an accident.
  • Make sure your truck is all the way off to the right shoulder, and not over or close to the line dividing the highway from the shoulder.  If any part of the truck is sticking out into the highway, a passing vehicle that is not paying attention could clip that part of the truck.
  • After putting the truck in park, check your mirrors carefully before exiting the truck to ensure that there are no vehicles passing by at the time and you can safety step out of and around the truck.  Do not make any sudden movements or steps near the moving traffic while out of the truck.
  • Be sure to place warning triangles or flares.  49 CFR 392.22 requires that these triangles or flares be placed within 10 minutes in three locations – 1. On the traffic side of the shoulder, approximately 10 feet from the truck, in the direction of approaching traffic; 2. In the center of the shoulder, approximately 100 feet from the truck, in the direction of approaching traffic; and 3. In the center of the shoulder, approximately 100 feet from the truck, in the direction away from approaching traffic.  If using flares, the driver must make sure that the flares stay lit as long as the truck is stopped.
  • If not already known, try to quickly determine what the problem with the truck is and whether it is something that can be easily fixed or not.
  • Contact your dispatcher to let them know what is going on and determine best way to handle from there.  Stay in the truck until help arrives so there is no chance of being hit by another vehicle while out walking or standing around.
  • Take some deep breaths and remain calm.

As always, we are happy to discuss safety and answer your questions.  Please do not hesitate to give us a call at 913-451-3900, or email us at: safetrucking@clinewood.com.

Wishing you many safe and accident-free miles!

 

Scott Dunwiddie

Director of Risk Management

Cline Wood, a Marsh & McLennan Agency LLC company

 

Sources:

1 – MacMillan, C., 2019. Truck Driver Tips For Handling A Big Rig Breakdown. [online] Smart Trucking. Available at: https://www.smart-trucking.com/big-rig-breakdown/ [Accessed 25 June 2020].

2 – 49 CFR 392.22

 

 

Safety Considerations for Your Drivers During Civil Unrest

Posted June 4, 2020 by Erin

Even though our nation is still in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis, some areas of the country are also dealing with civil unrest, which has included property destruction. Effectively dealing with civil unrest scenarios is largely unprecedented in most of our experiences. If your trucks operate within the affected areas, it is important for you to plan contingencies to keep your drivers safe and your vehicles free from damage. Some general safety ideas include:

  1. Consider a “No Stop” policy to thwart hijackings. Such a policy instructs drivers that in most situations, not to stop their vehicles if someone is attempting to get them to do so. Even at low speeds, large trucks are difficult to stop if the driver is intent on not stopping.
  2. Schedule runs to avoid nighttime loading and delivering in the affected cities if at all possible.
  3. If you have regular runs, try to vary routes the drivers take in case cargo thieves are conducting surveillance on your trucks and have planned a hijacking along your known route of travel.
  4. Try to manage driver’s HOS to get them in and out of the affected cities without forcing the driver to take a 10-hour break while there.
  5. Instruct drivers to avoid large crowds by observing situational awareness and tuning in to local news-oriented radio programs when entering large cities.
  6. Instruct drivers to park at modern, well-lit truck stops with on-site security and video surveillance. Avoid parking at remote locations and unprotected customer sites.
  7. If you choose to adopt any safety or security policies, be sure to properly train your drivers and address any concerns they have about their personal safety.  Drivers should not risk their lives in order to protect the truck or cargo.

Author: Kenny Ray, CSP, CHMM

FMCSA Releases Final Ruling, Updating HOS Regulations

Posted May 14, 2020 by Erin

May 14, 2020

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) today published a final rule on changes to Hours of Service (HOS) Regulations.

FMCSA’s final ruling makes the following changes to the existing HOS rules:
Short Haul Exception: This changes the short-haul exception by lengthening certain drivers’ maximum on‑duty period from 12 to 14 hours and extending the distance limit from 100 to 150 air miles.

Adverse Conditions Exemption: This will modify the adverse driving conditions exception by extending by 2 hours the maximum window during which driving is permitted.

Split Sleeper-Berth: Drivers may now split their required 10 hours off duty into at least 7 consecutive hours in the sleeper-berth and no less than 2 consecutive hours, either off duty or in the sleeper-berth. Neither period would count against the driver’s 14‑hour driving window.

30 Minute Rest Break: This rule increases flexibility, allowing 8 hours of uninterrupted driving time before a driver is required to take a 30 minute break, rather than 8 hours after coming on-duty. The break could also be satisfied by a driver using on duty, not driving status, rather than off duty status.

FMCSA cited flexibility as the driving force behind these changes which will go into effect 120 days after the rule is published in the Federal Register next week. The full ruling is available here, and FMCSA has also released a one-page summary of the ruling and a side by side comparison of the new and previous HOS regulations.

Diversification: A COVID-19 survival tactic for transportation companies

Posted May 13, 2020 by Erin

Trucking companies in the energy sector are directly feeling the effects of the ongoing oil war and the COVID-19 pandemic. Businesses are being forced to park their trucks and face potential closure, or to consider diversifying their businesses overnight. Switching the primary function of a trucking business, for example from the energy world into the dry freight world, can be very challenging. Without the proper training and technology, diversification can be very difficult to achieve on your own. Many trucking companies are asking, “What do we do?” our MMA teams have been working to find solutions to help clients keep their doors open and their drivers working. Below are several options to take into consideration if your business is looking into new ventures.

Consider Diversifying

“Diversification. It is a tactic trucking companies have been embracing for a while now, as less-than-truckload companies get into truckload, truckload companies get into intermodal or warehousing, and everyone, it seems, is getting into logistics. Dry van fleets launch or buy flatbed or refrigerated divisions and vice-versa. Some companies are even branching out into real estate and solar power. MMA has seen it on a smaller scale, as well. A livestock hauler, for instance, who branched out into selling trailers. On the other hand, there is also the need to diversify the types of customers you have, as many flatbed companies learned the hard way when the housing and auto manufacturing markets both tanked. A headlong rush into diversification may not be the right move for every company, remember to “look deeply” at new ideas, to “do a deep dive” on an exciting new trend. In other words, don’t get so excited about new diversification opportunities that you forget to do your homework.”¹

For motor carriers entering sectors involved in the transportation of food, human or animal, or hazardous materials, there are additional regulatory requirements.  Food transportation requires additional training for drivers as mandated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).  Hazardous materials transportation involves significant increases in registrations, insurance and training requirements. To learn more about hazardous materials and food transportation diversification specifics, click HERE. Your MMA Risk Consultant can guide you through these regulatory requirements if you pursue such new business.

Reach out

Leverage your network of trucking industry coaches and specialists to help guide you. Work closely with your brokers, counsel and other advisors to work through the impacts of this crisis. Recently, MMA Insurance Consultant Skip Wombolt, reached out to longtime client, Artur Express, who specializes in dry van freight, hauling clothing, groceries and other essential goods for recommendations and assistance based on their experience. For this sector, business is booming, the demand is high and drivers with power units are needed. Artur welcomed the idea of picking up drivers and trucks to help haul the abundance of loads they are receiving. Sharing this collaboration as an option was an effective solution for keeping trucks and drivers productive. MMA was able to collaborate and assist over 13 trucking companies and keep 200+ trucks and drivers on the road. Through a simple client-to-client introduction, MMA has helped trucking clients stay in business and profitable during this challenging time. The collaboration facilitated by MMA, has allowed trucking companies work together instead of competing against each other. MMA was available in the moments that matter and has enjoyed being able to help them succeed as a true business partner, not just their insurance agent. By working together, building partnerships, building trust and building confidence, we can create a more perfectly balanced transportation network. One that will be better able to handle the ups and downs and the ins and outs of our industry.

Source: ¹ https://www.truckinginfo.com/158654/diversification-diligence

Author: Skip Wombolt

Regulatory Update – FMCSA Crash Preventability Program

Posted May 5, 2020 by Erin

As of May 1, The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has changed their Crash Preventability Test Program to a permanent Crash Preventability Program. This allows you to challenge certain types of crash data, through the Data Q System, in the SMS. If you have an eligible crash that occurred on or after August 1, 2019, you may challenge by submitting a request for data review with a police accident report, and any other compelling evidence, to show the crash was Not Preventable. The crashes that can be challenged are limited to the following types of crashes:

Struck in the Rear type of crash when the CMV was struck:

∙ in the rear

∙ on the side at the rear.

Wrong Direction or Illegal Turns type of crash when the CMV was struck:

∙ by a motorist driving in the wrong direction

∙ by another motorist in a crash when a driver was operating in the wrong direction

∙ by a vehicle that was making a U-turn or illegal turn

Parked or Legally Stopped type of crash when the CMV was struck:

∙ while legally stopped at a traffic control device (e.g., stop sign, red light or yield); or while parked, including while the vehicle was unattended

Failure of the other vehicle to Stop type of crash when the CMV was struck:

∙ by a vehicle that did not stop or slow in traffic

∙ by a vehicle that failed to stop at a traffic control device

Under the Influence type of crash when the CMV was struck:

∙ by an individual under the influence (or related violation, such as operating while intoxicated), according to the legal standard of the jurisdiction where the crash occurred

∙ by another motorist in a crash where an individual was under the influence (or related violation such as operating while intoxicated), according to the legal standard of the jurisdiction where the crash occurred

Medical Issues, Falling Asleep or Distracted Driving type of crash when the CMV was struck:

∙ by a driver who experienced a medical issue which contributed to the crash

∙ by a driver who admitted falling asleep or admitted distracted driving (e.g., cellphone, GPS, passengers, other)

Cargo/Equipment/Debris or Infrastructure Failure type of crash when the CMV:

∙ was struck by cargo, equipment or debris (e.g., fallen rock, fallen trees, unidentifiable items in the road); or crash was a result of an infrastructure failure

Animal Strike type of crash when the CMV:

∙ struck an animal

Suicide type of crash when the CMV:

∙ struck an individual committing or attempting to commit suicide

Rare or Unusual type of crash when the CMV:

∙ Was involved in a crash type that seldom occurs and does not meet another eligible crash type (e.g., being struck by an airplane or skydiver or being struck by a deceased driver).

Complete information is available at:

https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/crash-preventability-determination-program

 

MMA is here to help.

If you have any questions regarding the scope of this new regulatory update and how it might affect your company, please call your Marsh & McLennan Agency representative.