What truck businesses should know about Clearinghouse queries

Clearinghouse is still big news in the trucking world. There are a lot of parts to it and aspects about it that anyone who employs CDL or CLP drivers needs to understand. One of these things is Clearinghouse queries. Trucking employers are going to have to query the Clearinghouse about their drivers, but what exactly does that mean? We’ll explain what queries are and go over what you need to know about querying the Clearinghouse.

What trucking businesses need to know about querying the Clearinghouse.

What is a query?

The first thing to go over is what exactly a query is. A query is simply when an employer or a consortium/third-party administrator submits a request in Clearinghouse so they can find out if a potential or current employee is okay to operate a CMV or perform other tasks. If a driver has drug and alcohol program violations, they may not be permitted to drive a CMV. Employers are required to do queries on their drivers annually, and they’re also required to do pre-employment queries when they’re hiring new drivers.

What types of Clearinghouse queries are there?

There are different types of queries you can do through Clearinghouse. (Keep in mind that all queries require consent from the driver, though in different ways.) Here are the different Clearinghouse queries.

Limited query. A limited query simply tells the employer if there is any violation information in the driver’s Clearinghouse record. But it doesn’t provide any details about the violation. The driver’s consent for a limited query comes from outside the Clearinghouse. (This type of query will satisfy the annual query requirement for your current drivers.)

Full query. A full query gives the employer or C/TPA detailed information about resolved or unresolved violations in the driver’s Clearinghouse record. The driver’s consent for a full query has to come electronically through Clearinghouse. (This type of query satisfies the pre-employment query requirement.)

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The limited query might show that there is information on the driver’s record that an employer might want to get more details on through a follow-up full query. In that case, there would only be one charge – you wouldn’t have to pay twice. Just a helpful tidbit to know.

Why are Clearinghouse query plans necessary?

Well, we touched on this briefly earlier, but employers are required to conduct queries on their employees annually, and they have to conduct queries for pre-employment if they’re hiring a new driver. And employers are charged for these queries, so the plan lets you purchase the proper number of queries. Basically, an employer has to buy a query plan so they or their C/TPA can conduct these queries. (And C/TPAs, by the way, cannot purchase the query plan for the employer – they can only conduct the queries on behalf of the employer.) While we’re on the subject of C/TPAs, note that owner-operators are required to have a C/TPA so they can fulfill their Clearinghouse requirement.

What query plan should I choose?

The next question you might have is what query plan you should choose. The answer is that it depends on the number of queries you’ll need to do. It might be hard to know how many queries you’ll need to do, and that’s okay. You can buy a plan that’s big enough to cover all of your current employees – you can always purchase more if you need to. (And, by the way, the flat rate is $1.25 per query.) Fun fact – queries don’t expire!

Can an employer designate a C/TPA to conduct queries?

Yes, an employer can absolutely designate a C/TPA to conduct Clearinghouse queries on their behalf. However, they do have to be registered in the Clearinghouse and they have to be designated by the employer. (And as we mentioned, owner-operators are required to have a C/TPA.)

Can employers do bulk queries?

Employers can do bulk Clearinghouse queries – they can upload a file with multiple drivers to be queried. Individual queries are processed pretty much instantly (for limited queries as soon as they’re entered, for full queries as soon as the driver has given their consent.) Bulk queries, on the other hand, are processed in batches between the hours of 8 p.m. to 8 a.m. ET (so as to avoid overloading the system in the busiest hours). The system goes through the submitted files and takes a batch of queries from each as it cycles through them. That way all the bulk queries get processed at the same rate.

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Phew – that’s a lot of information about Clearinghouse queries. Let’s switch gears and talk about truck insurance. Our team is good at making insurance easy, and we can help you get the coverage you need to protect your business. Get started with our quote form, call us, or messaging us on LiveChat.

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