An interview with Tommy Ruke, founder of the MCIEF

The transportation insurance world is complex. There’s a lot for insurance carriers to learn if they want to provide insurance coverage for motor carriers. With all the knowledge that needs to be learned, there has to be a way for agents, agencies, and even carriers to learn it. That’s where the Motor Carrier Insurance Education Foundation (MCIEF) can be a big help. We talked with Tommy Ruke, the founder of the MCIEF, to find out about how he got his start in the transportation insurance world and learn more about the MCIEF.

Getting started in the transportation insurance world.

Ruke’s interest in the world of trucking and motor carriers began at a young age.

“I grew up the son of a trucker,” Ruke said.

Ruke took an insurance course and became a Certified Insurance Counsellor. Around that time in 1979, the Certified Insurance Counsellor program was expanding into several subjects.

“I’ve used [my father’s] knowledge of the trucking industry, and I learned the insurance coverages…I was able to pair those together, which has developed to be unique in that I understand trucking but also understand insurance coverage.”

Jim Harrison was in charge of putting sessions together for the new subjects. “He knew two things about me,” Ruke said. “One, that I didn’t know much about insurance and two, my father was a trucker. He asked if I could put the trucker’s program together, which I did in 1983. And it grew from there.”

Ruke worked with the American Association of Managing General Agents in 1988. He helped develop their educational program and taught about trucking for them until about eight years ago.

At that point, the MCIEF got its start when Ruke invited 12 individuals to Orlando. “I asked 12 people to come to Orlando to start a system where we could deliver the educational programs that I’d been doing for the past 30 years as well as develop the ability to provide these programs when I can no longer do them,” he explained. “That’s where it started.”

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What is the MCIEF?

The Motor Carrier Insurance Education Foundation is an organization that is committed to helping insurance professionals understand the transportation industry and the challenges of insuring trucks and commercial vehicles. It provides education about transportation insurance, including topics such as the operation of commercial motor vehicles, government oversight in the transportation industry, managing the risks of trucking, and, of course, transportation insurance. Insurance companies, agencies, wholesalers, and individuals can become members of the MCIEF – and naturally, motor carriers can, too.

Ruke explained the goal of the MCIEF: “When I first started, the mission was to make it easier for a motor carrier to get insurance by sharing my knowledge of motor carriers with insurance providers so they’d better understand motor carriers,” he said. “It has developed into explaining the motor carrier industry to insurance providers and exploring the underwriting coverage services that the insurance provider needs to know and provide…[for] motor carriers.”

The MCIEF offers both online education and a face-to-face basic education class. Truckers U, the online education class, consists of 22 hours of study broken into 10-15 minute modules. The in-person class, Motor Carrier Insurance Considerations, is a 16-hour course. “We provide about eight of those programs a year, which gives the option to take the basic either online or face to face depending on how the individual learns best,” Ruke said. He also mentioned that the MCIEF offers two advanced classes (Advanced Coverage and Advanced Underwriting) about six times each per year.

The MCIEF also has an Annual Conference in Orlando, which offers optional break-out sessions for attendees to go to. The conference features professionals in the industry who speak on a variety of topics relevant to the trucking industry and the transportation insurance industry. “It’s been a hit,” Ruke said proudly. “It’s grown from the first year (six years ago) at 120 people to this year, we’re projecting 475. [It’s] the largest insurance gathering on a single subject that’s in the U.S.”

In addition to these classes, the MCIEF also offers a Transportation Risk professional (TRS) designation. This shows that an insurance professional has taken the time to study hard to gain a level of experience in the transportation insurance world. These are the people who are extremely committed to providing the best possible service to the transportation industry.

Members of the MCIEF also get access to many, many resources through the MCIEF website, including white papers, blog posts, and even an “Ask Tommy” form where people can submit questions directly to Ruke.

“The bottom line to this is if you want to provide services to motor carriers, you have to understand the uniqueness of their business,” Ruke explained. “It’s not like writing a restaurant or contractor. And that comes because of government regulation.”

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The MCIEF exists to help insurance providers understand motor carriers and their specific insurance needs. We’d like to extend a special thanks to Tommy Ruke for sharing about the MCIEF and of course for all the work that he’s done to further education about transportation in the insurance industry.

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