No one in the trucking industry wants to think about experiencing an accident or loss. Unfortunately, whether you’re an independent owner/operator, small fleet owner or large commercial transportation company, accidents are an inevitable part of the business and it’s important to be prepared.
While a loss can be incredibly stressful, filing your claim doesn’t have to be. Here are some tips for how to handle a trucking claim to avoid major headaches and ensure you’re properly compensated.
Don’t delay filing a claim
One of the biggest mistakes you can make is not promptly filing a claim with your insurance company after an incident or loss. The most common reason that policyholders delay or withhold reporting is because they fear an increase in their premiums.
In many cases though, this strategy backfires. The policyholder will try to handle the accident or loss themselves, only to have to report it later after issues arise that cause increased expenses. Delays in reporting could potentially jeopardize your coverage and lead to a much bigger pay-out on your end.
Even if you think the incident is too trivial to handle through your insurer, you should still file a claim.
The benefits of timely reporting
The more quickly you can file your commercial trucking claim, the better. Prompt reporting allows the loss prevention team at your insurance company to immediately begin their investigation and help mitigate your loss.
The major benefits of timely reporting include:
- Increases likelihood of an early resolution or settlement
- Often lowers claim costs
- Decreases potential for litigation
- Prevents important evidence from getting lost or discarded
- Compliance with policy provisions that require “prompt” or “immediate” notice
Early claims reporting also allows the insurer to legally pursue a third party that may have some liability for the loss. This is known as subrogation, and it can reduce the overall costs of a claim for both the insurer and the insured.
For example, say your truck and its cargo are severely damaged through the fault of another driver. Your insurance company will first reimburse you under the terms of the policy. The company can then seek compensation against the driver at fault. Legally, the insurance company “steps into your shoes” and thus has the same rights and legal standing as you. If your insurer is successful in obtaining reimbursements, the amount recovered after expenses will lower the amount ultimately paid out on the claim, which benefits you and your insurer.
Whatever the incident and surrounding circumstances are, the smart choice is always to file with your insurance company and have the experts manage the situation.
The process for handling a trucking claim
There are a few steps in the reporting process. Here’s what you typically need to do and what will happen when you file with your insurance company.1. Gather basic information. Before your file your claim, make sure to collect a few important details such as the date, location and cause of the loss; type of damage; steps taken to mitigate loss; the name of any individuals who may have witnessed the events leading to the loss, and your contact name and policy number.
2. Report the claim. Depending on your insurer, you will be able to file your claim by phone, email and/or an online form. You will fill out the report with all the information you’ve gathered.
3. Follow up. The first notice of loss report will be immediately processed. You will soon be contacted by your claims representative so that you can go over the report together and he or she can find out any other relevant details.
Depending on the type of case, what happens next will differ. For a minor incident, there may be no further actions; however, the above steps will also assist your insurer in handling a major loss.
Employee education on claims process is key
While independent truck drivers only have to worry about their own insurance, mid- to large-sized commercial trucking companies must manage dozens to hundreds of drivers. When employees don’t report losses, your company may be losing on unrecovered claims – or, even worse, be hit with an unexpected lawsuit.
Education is critical to ensure all employees comply with your company’s claim reporting process. You should train employees to report all accidents or potential claims to their manager as soon as possible. Training should be conducted during each new hire orientation, with frequent refreshers during company safety meetings.
When looking for an insurance company, make sure to evaluate if they have any loss prevention programs. An insurer can not only mitigate losses when they happen, but also help prevent them through effective risk management measures. Also, periodically check with your broker or insurance company representative to confirm all current addresses, phone numbers and email addresses to properly tender a claim under the policy. With the right insurance partner, you can better ensure the safety and compliance of your trucking business.
Are you in commercial trucking and have questions about how to handle insurance claims? Contact us directly and we’ll do our best to provide an answer.