It is hard to believe that it’s June already and we are still concerned with the weather. Major storms, including flooding and epic tornadoes, have plagued much of the central part of our country, and one-hundred-year floods are following the Mississippi River and its tributaries (there is massive devastation in these areas). In addition to the economy (up or down), risk factors and current headlines, the weather can also be a major participant in truck insurance losses. So, be careful, be prepared, and don’t do anything stupid (see photo).
More and more of you are being required to carry General Liability coverage. We have talked about this in the past, but this is one part of the insurance package that is rarely requested and, for the most part, still very misunderstood. If you are a prime carrier out of the harbor, you are acutely aware of this coverage because you cannot have a Certificate of Insurance to the UIIA without it. What does General Liability cover? Well, it does not cover your truck (it excludes licensed vehicles). So, why are you required to have it and what does it cover?
Basically, General Liability covers your business interests – anything other than what is covered by your Truck Liability coverage. The coverage is much like your homeowner’s liability – it covers you in the event that your business is involved in a legal confrontation, other than those of the truck. You might ask, “What does this have to do with what I do?” Well, General Liability generally adds a layer of protection to your business. It covers the liability on the property that you own or rent, and covers the actions of your employees, such as a physical altercation (beating up the dock worker that just ran his forklift into your trailer). If you are required to drive or own a forklift, this coverage would cover your actions while operating the unit (as long as it is a vehicle that is not licensed for the road). Many wood-chip haulers are required to show that they have General Liability coverage by the facilities that they haul to.
Costs for General Liability vary. Many of the truck policies will not provide this type of coverage, so it has to be purchased elsewhere. If your carrier will provide the coverage on your truck policy, the cost is very low. Annual rates can be as low as $275 per power unit if the coverage is purchased through your liability carrier. If not, it can be as much as $1,500 if you have to purchase a stand-alone policy (owner operators). If you are going to pull for a carrier, before you do anything, find out what all of their requirements are. With that information and through your insurance agent, you can obtain the proper coverage that you need. It is always a problem to back into something after the fact. Insurance companies are not all alike, and what they offer differs from company to company.
Uninsured Motorist is a coverage that is usually offered with your Truck Liability policy. When you purchase the liability for your truck, you have to acknowledge the purchase of or the deletion of this coverage. That acknowledgment may be in the application or may be a separate form that has to be signed by the insurance purchaser. Uninsured Motorist, for the most part, is another type of coverage that is widely misunderstood. These comments are general and you should discuss this with your insurance agent.
The coverage for the trucker is known as Uninsured Motorist, Bodily Injury. This coverage covers only injury to you and/or a passenger in the truck, as a result of an accident by an uninsured motorist. It does not cover damage to your vehicle. Damage to your vehicle is covered through the Physical Damage coverage as a part of your insurance package. Do not confuse this coverage with the Bodily Injury/Property Damage coverage that is associated with the liability part of your policy. There are other types of uninsured coverage, but they are mostly associated with private passenger auto policies such as Under Insured and Uninsured Physical Damage. Most truck insurance companies use different forms and all coverages purchased should be thoroughly discussed with your agent.
I made a reference to a passenger in your truck in the paragraph above. Generally, insurance companies do not like the prospect that there are passengers in the cab of your truck. Although some Truck Liability policies provide medical coverage, most do not – there is no coverage for you or your passengers. The insurance companies just do not want to go through any lawsuits brought about by a loss that involves a passenger. Some policies may have the ability for you to purchase medical at an additional cost. If your insurance provider offers medical coverage, the cost associated with the coverage is inexpensive, but the limits are also limited to small amounts of coverage, too.
Understanding the lifestyle that truckers live, I can imagine that it is hard not to take your wife or child out on the road with you at times. If you do, there are separate policies available that would provide coverage for your passengers. We will explore this and another type of coverage called Occupational Hazard in the next article, so stay tuned. If you have any insurance-related comments or question, feel free to contact me through California Plus Insurance Service in Modesto, CA at 1-800-699-7101.