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Your Liability Decoded: Released Value Protection

No matter where you operate or what type of items you are transporting, movers are required to assume some form of liability. In the moving and storage industry, things are typically regulated by governmental agencies. When it comes to your liability as it relates to transported goods, the Surface Transportation Board (STB) makes the rules.

Last week, we talked about one of two options for liability: full (replacement) value protection. With that option, the movers are responsible to replace, repair or make cash settlement for any items lost, damaged or destroyed. However, there is a second option: released value

This option is the most economical protection available to the customer. There is no additional cost, as with Full Value Protection. However, this option provides minimal protection to the consumer in terms of the liability the moving company takes responsibility for.

• The mover assumes liability for no more than 60-cents per pound, per article
• The loss or damage is based on 60-cents, based on weight, not the actual value of the item
• There is a place on the bill of lading (BOL) for the customer to sign and agree to this type of liability protection

By default, this type of liability coverage applies to all moving companies, regardless of the type of movers insurance they hold or any of the limits within that coverage. It is up to the customer to request the type of protection that he or she wants. It is up to the moving company to understand the limits of each option and explain both to the customer before signing off on a BOL.

*Remember, both of these options are not insurance agreements. They are contractual levels of liability authorized under Released Rates Orders of the Surface Transportation Board of the US Department of Transportation.

Additional liability insurance can be purchased by moving companies and by customers. Always be sure everything in a transaction is documented. This is the most fool-proof way to protect yourself. At Wolpert Insurance, our agents are experts in the moving and storage industry. Should you ever have any questions, all you have to do is give us a call.  We’ll be glad to help in any way we can, even if all you need is a clarification on a regulation!

Freight Classification Codes: SPLC

Whether you operate in interstate, intrastate or foreign commerce, the National Motor Freight Association (NMFTA) is the organization that regulates your freight. Implementing standards for the classification of freight is their major contribution to the moving and storage industry.

Last week, we discussed one of the two very important classification codes the NMFTA is responsible for: SCAC. This week, we’re going to talk about the second freight classification code: SPLC. When it comes to your responsibility as a mover, adhering to agreed upon standards is essential to avoiding legal claims. Although your mover’s insurance can protect you, if you fail to obey national standards, it can be hard to have a case for yourself.

The Standard Point Location Code (SPLC) is a freight classification code that is designed to identify specific points in North America that “originate and receive transportation with their geographic locations,” according to the NFTA. Similar to SCAC, the SPLC is a numeric coding system.

Here are the basics:
• SPLCs are assigned to each point originating freight
• SPLCs are assigned to each point receiving freight
• Two digits are used to identify state, county and cite
• Three digits are used to identify sub-code
• The nesting system: State-County-City-SubCode
Each point is identified with a nine-digit number. These numbers can be broken down into five unique parts:
1. Part I of the first digit identifies the region
2. Part II of the first and second digits identify the state, province or territory
3. Part III identifies the county
4. Part IV is the fifth and sixth digits, which identify the part of  the area covered by the first four digits
5. Part V has two stipulations: If the seventh, eighth and ninth digits are “000”, the point is not defined beyond a city level. If they are anything aside from that, this is the sub-code level

The SPLC codes can be found on the NMFTA’s website. But remember, your trusted agents at Wolpert Insurance are always willing to answer any of your questions. We want you to be safe and secure no matter where your moving business takes you!

Freight Classification Codes: SCAC

No matter what business you are in, everyone shares one common concern: cost. Minimizing cost and maximizing profits is one of the cornerstones to a successful business. In the moving industry, minimizing costs is important to you, the mover, and to your clients, the shippers. Understanding how to classify costs in a way that also maintains your legal obligations is essential to running a successful moving business.

Just like your movers insurance, nationally agreed up on standards exist for one reason: to protect you. When it comes to classifications for your freight, the National Motor Freight Traffic Association (NMFTA) has come up with two different standards for comparing commodities: Standard Carrier Alpha Codes (SCAC) and Standard Point Location Codes (SPLC). These exist to standardize pricing and standardize freight type.

Today, let’s break down what a Standard Carrier Alpha Code is.

• A unique two-to-four-letter code
• It is used to identify transportation companies – such as your moving company
• The NMFTA publishes a directory of all of the SCACs
• SCACs exist to facilitate computerization in the transportation industry – this means that you can obtain any information you need right off of the Internet

SCACs are typically required when doing business within the United States. They are also required by U.S. government agencies and a vast majority of commercial shippers. If you are involved with:

• The automotive industry
• The petroleum industry
• Forrest products
• Chemical industries
• Retail suppliers

You will be required to obtain accurate SCACs for your shipments. Many commercial shippers and receivers will include SCACs on their freight bill audit and even utilize them with payment systems.

The NMFTA assigns SCACs for all companies, although certain groups of codes are reserved for specific purposes. These include:

• Codes ending with the letter “U” – these are reserved for the identification of freight containers
• Codes ending with the letter “X” – these are reserved for the identification of privately owned railroad cards
• Codes ending with the letter “Z” – these are reserved for the identification of trucks and trailers used internationally

At Wolpert Insurance, we can always review your moving company’s legal requirements – including NMFTA regulations. All you have to do is give us a call! Be sure to check back next week when we go over the second NMFTA regulation: Standard Point Location Codes.

Shipping Hazardous Materials: A Quick Guide

When you are working in the moving and storage industry, you are likely to encounter a wide variety of materials. For the most part, it is safe to assume that people will ship literally anything. That is exactly why as a moving company, it is important to be aware of all of the different rules that apply to shipping. The Department of Transportation (DOT) takes certain rules especially seriously – particularly those associated with materials that can be deemed hazardous.

What materials are classified as hazardous?

The DOT classifies materials as hazardous when a material’s amount or form poses a risk to health, safety or property. This definition is in accordance with the Federal Hazardous Material Law regulations. Any mover knows that these regulations are often strictly enforced on the roads.

What are the specific hazard classes?

• DOT Hazard Class 1: Explosives
• DOT Hazard Class 2: Gases
• DOT Hazard Class 3: Flammable Liquids
• DOT Hazard Class 4: Flammable Solids
• DOT Hazard Class 5: Oxidizers and organic peroxides
• DOT Hazard Class 6: Poisons and etiologic materials
• DOT Hazard Class 7: Radioactive Material
• DOT Hazard Class 8: Corrosives
• DOT Hazard Class 9: Miscellaneous dangerous substances and articles

Additionally, there is the classification ORM-D. This can include any material that poses a limited hazard during transportation. This can be due to packaging, form or even quantity.

It is important to take inventory of all of the materials in your shipment in your Bill of Lading (BOL) and review the classifications of any materials that may be considered hazardous. Once you accept a hazardous material for shipment, you are responsible for it. You want to note any specific shipping instructions or even prohibitions.

Paying attention to the rules can make all of the difference when it comes to costs and claims associated with your mover’s insurance. At Wolpert Insurance, our agents specialize in assisting the moving and storage industry with all of their liability needs. Give us a call today and we’ll answer all of your questions and help keep you safe when you’re out there on the open road!

How Do Insurance Companies Rate Moving Vehicles?

Owning a business comes with a great deal of responsibility and commitment. For the most part, when it comes to insurance, business insurance policies are general across the board. When you own a moving company, however, your insurance needs are unique to you. You should be insured like a moving company, and that’s different than a trucking company.

Insurance for moving companies is different than trucking coverage. Your coverage should be tailored to meet the unique needs you have. You want to eliminate gaps and avoid double coverage. Since cargo insurance is unregulated, every policy is different. You can have a policy that matches your exact needs in terms of limits.

State laws require commercial drivers of vehicles to obtain a minimum amount of automobile liability coverage. Although every state has different required limits, you may also want to consider additional policy supplements, such as:

• General liability
• Workers compensation
• Motor truck cargo
• Truck physical damage
• Umbrella  insurance
• Occupational accident
• Owner operator coverage

As an owner or operator of a moving company, you want to be sure you are protected from claims due to equipment, collisions and workers compensation. With movers insurance, you can obtain that protection. But you shouldn’t have to get a “cookie-cutter” policy. Regular truck and service truck rates are different. And often, there is a significant price difference (25-45% difference!)

At Wolpert Insurance, we understand that. That is why, when we quote your premiums, we take into account the extent of your business and the use of your vehicles. Our underwriters understand that perhaps your vehicles sit in front of a home or business all day long – and this can reduce your risk, and therefore, your premiums. Reduced exposure should mean reduced cost, shouldn’t it?

Isn’t it time you saw a difference in your premiums? If you want to see the difference our agents can make, give us a call or fill out an online quote form today!

What Is Included On A Bill Of Lading?

In the moving and storage industry, contracts and legal liability issues are commonplace. Last week, we talked about what is arguably the most important contract you are responsible for: the bill of lading, or BOL. First, it is important to understand what a BOL is. Next, you’ll want to understand exactly what is included on one.

Your bill of lading works as a receipt of freight services. It is required before you can move a shipment and legally binding. So what details are included?

•  The shipper’s name(s) and complete addresses
• The receiver’s name(s) and complete addresses
• The date of the shipment
• The number of units being shipped
• The type of packaging the shipment is in: Cartons, pallets, drums and skids are included in this detail
• The account numbers used between the businesses for order tracking
• Any special instructions for prompt and worry-free delivery
• A thorough description of the items being shipped: Be sure you include the material and the common name
• The NMFC freight classification for all items in the shipment
• The declared value of the shipment
• The exact weight of the shipment
• If the shipment contains a Department of Transportation declared hazardous material – a note stating that is included

As the owner or operator of a moving business, you want to make sure you do everything possible to protect you, your employees, and your shipments. Be sure to always review your bill of lading before shipment and make sure the carrier on pick up also reads it over. You want to avoid the tendency to “blindly” sign off on something without a thorough read-through. After all, if there are discrepancies between the BOL and the actual shipment, you could be liable!

Be sure you have the protection you need in the event of any unforeseen circumstances and review your mover’s insurance policy today. Remember, when you speak with one of the agents at Wolpert Insurance, we can help with all of your questions… from the bill of lading and beyond!

What Is A Bill Of Lading?

When you are in the business of moving and storage, you are no stranger to contracts and legal liability issues. One of the most important contracts you will be responsible for obtaining is a bill of lading.

An agreement between the shipper and the freight carrier, a bill of lading (BOL) works as a receipt of freight services. Failure to provide or maintain a bill of lading could result in serious issues – claims and lawsuits, to name a few. Further, if a BOL you agree upon omits critical information and an issue arises during transport, there could be serious consequences for your company. At Wolpert Insurance, we are more than insurance for moving and storage companies, we are also your trusted source of advice and information.

Since a BOL is a legally binding document, we want you to be sure you understand its purpose and what should be included in it. This week, let’s talk about the purpose of a BOL.

A BOL will serve three different purposes:

1. A receipt issued to the shipper for any merchandise received.
2. A document providing evidence of the legal possession of someone else’s property.
3. The contract of carriage when combined with applicable taxes.

A bill of lading will establish receipts of shipment and the terms and conditions of the services you provide.  Essentially, before you leave any shipment, your delivery will be inspected and compared to what is listed on the BOL. You want to be sure your BOL is accurate and can provide valid proof of receipt.

In order to maintain a stellar reputation in this industry, you want to stay abreast of the industry standards such as a BOL. You also want to be sure you have adequate protection in the form of insurance coverage. At Wolpert, we can help you with all of your movers and storage insurance needs.

Be sure to give us a call today with any questions, and stop by next week for part 2 of BOL 411.

Importance Of Annual Driver Reviews

When you own a moving company, there aren’t many things more important than making sure your drivers live up to your company’s standards of integrity. Obviously, there are federal rules and regulations in place for your drivers to adhere to while operating your commercial vehicles. However, what if they have a less than desirable personal driving record that you know little about? If an employee gets into an accident that results in a liability claim being filed on your moving company insurance, you may wish you had an internal policy in place.

Having an internal policy regarding employee personal driving records is important for any moving company because it allows owners to gauge when the time is right to part ways with an employee.  The FMCSA requires that all businesses that use CMVs to implement annual driving record reviews to take note of any tickets or citations they incurred using their personal vehicle. An employee may have gotten five speeding tickets last year, and without an annual review, you may never know this. This makes the annual review all the more important. When it comes time toperform an employee driving record review, here are some incidents to look out for that may impact your driver’s status:

• Excessive speeding tickets: Over the last twelve months, one of your employees may have gotten a lot of speeding tickets. Would you want this person continuing to operate your vehicles? While they may have never gotten a speeding ticket operating your vehicles, it probably means they just haven’t been caught yet.
• Driving to endanger: Driving to endanger can mean anything from doubling the speed limit, switching lanes dangerously or getting too close to another vehicle. Driving to endanger is a misdemeanor in Massachusetts and result in penalties such as tickets, fines and even jail time depending on the circumstances.
• Driving under the influence: While it’s likely that you would find out if an employee was pulled over for driving under the influence outside of work hours, it is possible something like this could slip through the cracks. By going over your employee’s driving record, you will be able to see any citations or instances of a possible DUI – even if they were not convicted.
• Hit and run: A hit and run can either be a minor or serious offense depending on the situation. However, whether or not your driver hit a pole or parked car and drove away or struck a pedestrian, a hit and run is not something you’ll want to see on their driving record. Hit and run shows that a person lacks responsibility when it comes to being involved in an accident.

Having internal standards for employees in place is necessary for any company that utilizes CMVs to conduct business. By having an internal policy in place, you’ll be able to effectively manage your drivers and what they do on the road, whether it’s operating your company vehicles or their own. For more questions on annual driving record reviews, feel free to contact our movers insurance agency today.

What is Contingent Business Interruption Insurance?

As the owner of a storage warehouse there are many risks that can cause your business to have shut down its operations. Primarily, most businesses are concerned with damages to their immediate property and how it affects their company’s ability to remain open. However, if you’re dependent on a third party supplier or customer to keep your business running and something happens to said third party, you may need a specialized policy apart from your moving and storage insurance. When this happens, you need to make sure you have contingent business interruption insurance to cover any lost costs that occur while your doors are shut.

What is contingent business interruption? 

Contingent business interruption insurance (CBI) is a policy that reimburses a company for lost profits and continuing expenses due to a loss suffered by one or more of its supplies or customers. CBI is different from regular business interruption coverage because it is dependent on losses to the property of a third party, not your actual business property. A CBI policy will be necessary when:

1. Direct physical loss or damage to a dependent property (supplier or customer)
2. The loss or damage is caused by a covered cause of loss
3. The loss results in a suspension of operations at a covered location.

Who needs CBI insurance? 

Foreign suppliers and customers have become very important for businesses, creating interruption exposures that did not exist in the past. However, even if your supplies and customers are local, you may still need CBI anyway. In order to determine whether or not you need CBI, you should identify your supplies and customers and how they may impact your operations. Ask yourself these questions:

1. Can I survive a temporary production stoppage by one or more suppliers? For how long?
2. Do I have alternative supplies?
3. Do I rely on one or a few customers to purchase the majority of my products?

Keep in mind that most CBI policies do not cover losses related to earthquake and flood damage since they are not normally covered under a regular property insurance policy.

At Wolpert Insurance & Risk Management we want owners to understand that, if anything ever happens to either their building or with a third party, we can help. For more information on CBI or your mover’s insurance, give us a call today.

Help Moving Truck Drivers Avoid Movers Insurance Claims

Do your truck drivers understand safety? When it comes to driving moving or storage trucks, it’s necessary that your drivers maintain a great deal of safety so they’re not committing costly errors. What kind of errors could occur? For one, an accident could easily happen. If an accident happens, then the cargo you’re carrying may become damaged as well, leading to possible claims on your mover’s insurance. Thankfully, our agency is here to provide some important information all moving truck drivers should know:

Don’t tailgate: It’s important for all drivers—regardless of the vehicle—to keep a healthy distance between your vehicle and the one in front. The risk greatly supersedes the point of tailing someone. You may think you’re going faster and getting to your destination quicker, but you’re really not making that much of a difference. If the person in front were to suddenly stop short, you could cause serious damage to their rear end and to your truck as well.
Focus: Focus is a large contributor to vehicle accidents. In many cases, the driver will let his or her mind drift away from the task at hand, causing accidents that could have and should have been avoided. Also, we understand that your drivers may have cell phones and will need to be reached, but they should be dissuaded from answering them while driving.
Get the right amount of rest: Commercial drivers have regulations about the sleep needed between driving shifts. It’s important to get sleep and be well-rested because if you’re not, you won’t be in prime condition to operate a commercial vehicle.
Signals: Since you’re driving a larger vehicle than most, your signals are very important to other drivers to let them know what your actions are when it comes to turning or switching lanes. Since you have blind spots, you blinkers are your best friend and will signal drivers to either speed up or slow down to allow you to change lanes.

At Wolpert Insurance & Risk Management we want all of our clients to understand what it takes to be safe drivers on the road. For more information relating to driving moving trucks and how it relates to your moving and storage insurance, feel free to give us a call today to find out more.