WHAT TOWING RISKS EXIST IF MY TRUCK IS IN AN ACCIDENT AND I HAVE SPLIT COVERAGES?
Having a driver involved in a crash is stressful in itself, but motor carriers may compound a bad situation if their liability, physical damage, and cargo coverages are split between multiple insurers.
Splitting coverages invites confusion and communication breakdowns between parties involved. As a motor carrier anxiously awaits resolution of the claim, the disjointed parties involved must determine who has coverage for each claim and what the policy limits are, and then coordinate clean up, towing, salvage, and storage of cargo, to name a few tasks.
Having one insurer handling all aspects of the claim is ideal. Avoiding split coverages for your operations can reduce the risk of unnecessary delays and inflated claim costs, and better protect the motor carrier from future litigation.
To illustrate this point, consider an accident involving a fully-loaded tractor-trailer that goes off the road and into a ditch. The motor carrier and its insurer(s) are now facing a potential claim involving a crane to pull the truck out of the ditch; towing and repairs to the tractor and/or trailer; removal and storage or disposal of the cargo; and if fuel leaked, environmental cleanup services.
Typically, law enforcement is first on the scene and will likely call a tow company with which they have a negotiated rate to get the truck out of the road as soon as possible. In doing so, towing companies usually give the motor carrier one bill for all of the charges and will not split the charges based on the motor carrier’s various coverages and insurers. If the motor carrier has split coverages, it is up to the motor carrier to determine which charges are covered under which policy and to file separate claims with each insurer.
Adding to the chaos, the motor carrier may learn that one of its insurers has lower policy limits than the others, or one insurer is slow to pay its portion of the claim. Delays like these can affect how and when the other insurers are able to take action to resolve their portions of the claim.
Thus, as a risk management strategy, split coverages are a risk that can be avoided. Consider having all coverages under one roof with one insurer so it can handle each aspect of a claim and resolve it in a more timely and efficient manner.
CALL TO ACTION
Report all claims immediately to your insurer (i.e., within 24 hours of the incident).
Discuss policy options with your agent and find out whether all coverages can be kept with one insurer.
Know which insurer covers each part of a claim and what the policy limits are.
Be active in claim handling by facilitating discussions between your insurer, agent, and third parties.
Note: These lists are not intended to be all-inclusive
This material is intended to be a broad overview of the subject matter and is provided for informational purposes only. Great West Casualty Company does not provide legal advice to its insureds or other parties, nor does it advise insureds or other parties on employment-related issues, therefore the subject matter is not intended to serve as legal or employment advice for any issue(s) that may arise in the operations of its insureds or other parties. Legal advice should always be sought from legal counsel. Great West Casualty Company shall have neither liability nor responsibility to any person or entity with respect to any loss, action, or inaction alleged to be caused directly or indirectly as a result of the information contained herein.Reprinted with permission from Great West Casualty Company