June 3, 2021

Modernization of Cross Border Trade event returns to Laredo


Cross-border summit to talk international trade, cargo visibility and B-1 visa drivers

After going virtual last year because of the coronavirus pandemic, the Modernization of Cross Border Trade annual conference returns Thursday as an in-person event in Laredo, Texas.

Borderless Coverage powered by Reliance Partners and the Laredo Motor Carriers Association are hosting the fourth-annual event, which aims to highlight U.S.-Mexico trade while having a “fun” gathering, according to Mark Vickers, executive vice president of logistics at Reliance Partners.

“With vaccinations picking up, we decided to do a live and in-person event and decided if we’re going to do it, let’s have a lot of fun too,” Vickers said. “We’re having it at the Mario Palos Garza Ranch, with live music, food trucks. It’s going to be a super fun event with very high-quality content.”

Vickers started the Modernization of Cross Border Trade event and is also the founder of Borderless Coverage, a company that provides cross-border consulting services and cargo insurance to a wide range of businesses in the North American shipping industry.

Reliance Partners, one of the nation’s largest insurance agencies serving the trucking and logistics industries, acquired Borderless Coverage in February. The company is officially called Borderless Coverage Powered by Reliance Partners.

Vickers said more than 250 carriers, brokers and trade industry professionals will be attending the event in Laredo.

Speakers for the Modernization of Cross Border Trade event include:

— Juan Carlos Mendoza Sanchez, the general counsel for Mexico in Laredo.

— Thom Albrecht, former CFO of Celadon and current CFO and CRO of Reliance Partners.

— Andrew Ladebauche, CEO of Reliance Partners.

— Ernesto Gaytan, former president of Laredo Motor Carriers Association and general manager at STI.

Topics include Reliance Partners’ investment in cross-border technology, captives and self-insurance, auto liability options for fleets with B-1 drivers, safety programs and comprehensive insurance programs for groups that specialize in cross-border trade.

Truck drivers with B-1 visas are one of the industry’s hot topics, Vickers said.

“Governments on both sides of the border are advocating for Mexican cargo insurance and they’re also advocating for their B-1 visa drivers,” Vickers said.

Mexico truck drivers with B-1 visas can pick up loads in Mexico and then take those loads across the border into the United States and either deadhead back to Mexico or take another load as they are headed directly back to their Mexican destinations.

Some trucking and logistics professionals have said U.S. companies are misusing drivers with B-1 visas, which is hurting the trucking industry.

“We have governments on both sides of the border and the Laredo Motor Carriers Association coming to us with questions, asking are there any other markets that would be interested in underwriting fleets that have a high volume of B-1 drivers. I’ve been getting those questions for a couple years,” Vickers said.

Vickers said his company’s merger with Reliance Partners has helped with “repackaging B-1s and taking them to the top markets in the U.S.”

“One of the reasons I merged with Reliance Partners is because they understand cross-border, they understand B-1 drivers, they understand that the U.S. economy could slow down or actually come to a halt without B-1s,” Vickers said. “What we’ve done is changed the kind of stereotype around B-1 drivers in the insurance market as a whole. We’re taking them to insurance markets that have historically turned away the B-1s.”