How To: Obtain A Warehouse License

Did you read about warehouses and licensing last week and now you have realized that you need to get a warehouse license from the Massachusetts Department of Safety? Or perhaps you are just looking to learn some more about how to obtain a warehouse license. No matter what brought you here, Wolpert Insurance has the answers that you are looking for!

In Massachusetts, if you operate a business that has buildings or lots that are kept and maintained for the storage of goods, wares or merchandise, you are considered to be a Warehouseman and must apply for a license from the department to legally operate your business. This means you will need:

  1. A warehouse license
    2. A surety bond

To obtain a warehouse license, there are three necessary steps.

  1. You must complete the Public Warehouseman License Application Packet. You can obtain that form online and all it requires is general information about your business. With that, you must also submit: a government issued photo ID, a copy of your “Articles of Organization”, a copy of your business certificate and zoning approval, a completed bond form, a copy of your actual surety bond, and a completed Notice Form. All of these documents and requirements can be found on the Massachusetts Department website.
    2. A completed criminal check or “CORI Request Form”.
    3. A check or money order for $250.00, made out to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

You will send your completed application to:

Department of Public Safety – Public Warehouse Licensing
One Ashburton Place Room 1301
Boston, MA 02108

You might be wondering about the bond requirement. Under G.L. c. 105, §3, a bond ensures that a party injured by your action will have access to funds for recovery. This bonding company or surety will pay your liability and then seek reimbursement from you.  You must submit a $10,000 surety bond for every warehouse you operate.

Wolpert Insurance can help you obtain a bond. All you need to do is bring your bond form to us at Wolpert Insurance and we can assist you with the requirements necessary to submit to the Department.

Remember, you will not be able to apply for movers insurance without the proper licensing. And with your business at risk, you could be facing huge expenses should it be determined that you are responsible for damage to goods in storage. The moving and storage industry certainly comes with a lot of different requirements, but we are always there to help you with all of your needs. Give us a call today and let’s get started!

Understanding & Explaining Moving Estimates

Running a moving company can be about much more than just the goods you are actually transporting. Often times, you will find that your success or failure in the moving and storage industry is more directly related to the quality of customer service you provide. Surely, you cannot control the weather or the readiness of the location you are delivering to, but you can control how you handle every person that comes to your for a service – starting with the moving estimate you provide.

Many times, prospective movers do not understand their moving estimate. This can mean that from the time you quote the move to the time you actually submit a bill is confusing for a customer. This can also mean that you may end up with some severely unhappy customers if they misunderstand a price to be lower than the actual bill says at the end of the day. Fortunately, written moving estimates are commonplace and something your business should take advantage of. It allows you to document your quote and it also allows for your customer to see, in writing, what they should expect.

It is likely that you will have to explain what each type of estimate means, as there are a few different types, so let’s break down the basics.

Non-Binding Estimate
• This estimate is not bound by a contract
• This is a rough estimate – predicted, but can change
• Many moving companies opt to factor in additional costs here, to keep options open
• You won’t know the true cost until moving day

Binding Not-To Exceed
• This is considered the best estimate out there
• A popular option for long-distance movers
• The moving company is bound to the price they quote and if the price is less, the cost will be lowered

Binding Estimates
• This is commonly used when the cost is uncertain
• The cost of the move cannot increase after this estimate is given
• If the movers determine the actual weight and cost is less than estimated, the customer will still pay the estimated price

The most important thing a moving company can do is be sure they understand every item that needs to be moved and then go over all of the liability issues with the client following the estimate. Answering any questions about the estimate or mover liability up front is imperative to avoid costly claims and having to contact your movers insurance agency for assistance with problematic situations.

At Wolpert Insurance, we are committed to our clients in the moving and storage industry. Whether your question is about providing moving estimates or liability during a move, we have or will attempt to find the answer for you. All you have to do is give us a call!

Who Needs A Warehouse License?

In Massachusetts, a warehouse is defined as “any building or part of a building kept and maintained for the storage of goods, wares, and merchandise as a business,” as stated by the Massachusetts Department of Public Safety.  If you own or operate a business in the moving and storage industry, do you understand all of the specifics that are involved with licensing, liability and even movers insurance as it pertains to your warehouse and storage?

First things first, you should understand that there are different types of public warehouses. This will impact the licensing requirements as well as your insurance requirements.

• Public warehouse: This includes eviction warehouses. Essentially, any warehouse that may be leased to solve short-term distribution and storage needs.
• Private warehouse: This type of warehouse is typically owned by a channel supplier or retailer for their own distribution strategy

In the moving and storage industry, it is probable that you have some type of public warehouse. As long as you are storing goods for hire than you are required to obtain a warehouse license from the Massachusetts Department of Public Safety.

In addition to that, if you operate an eviction lot within your warehouse, you will also need to declare that. While this is a public warehouse, it is a different type, and the requirements are a bit different in terms of licensing and bonds. You must comply with all of the state’s requirements or you risk losing your business and hefty fines!

Things to remember:
• You are liable for any damage that could have been reasonably avoided
• With eviction lots you must be insured for $10,000 over the bond for every eviction – this means you need to obtain surety bonds.
• For any warehouse, you must submit a $10,000 surety bond in order to receive licensing and approval for your warehouse.

At Wolpert Insurance, we are committed to ensuring that you understand all of your legal requirements as they pertain to Massachusetts safety and liability protection. Our goal has always been to protect you and secure the future success of your business. Now that you understand warehouse licensing requirements a bit more, check back next week for details on how you can apply and what the process is like. Any questions between now and then? Give us a call!

Controlling For Risk With An MVR

You do not have to be behind the wheel to be a part of the moving and storage industry. No matter what type of vehicle it is, owning and operating vehicles as part of a commercial business creates substantial risk. Accidents, while not wished for, are bound to happen. Fortunately, there are effective ways that companies can minimize their risk and lower their chances of accidents and expensive claims on their moving insurance for their company.

According to a study conducted by the Department of Transportation (DOT), drivers with a history of accidents and moving violations are more likely to continue driving this way – thus, posing a threat of risk to an organization that may choose to employ said drivers. Those with 8 convictions on record are nearly 5 times more likely to have a subsequent accident.

How can companies protect against this risk?

Organizations can utilize Motor Vehicle Records (MVRs) as part of the driver screening and hiring process. Together with a written policy for the moving and storage company, an MVR program can be administered by HR effectively.

What does an MVR entail?

An MVR should always include:

1. Obtaining:  Who is covered under the policy? This includes all members of your staff who operate commercial vehicles, personal vehicles or even rental vehicles.

Once a prospective employee has been determined to be covered under the MVR policy, he or she should provide all accident and violation information on his or her application for employment. Throughout employment, all employees should be required to keep this up to date. This can be a form created by your company to track, or you may choose to obtain a sample form online.

2. Evaluating: Violations are generally classified as major (serious), minor and non-moving. There are also preventable and non-preventable accidents. Be sure to evaluate all violations and accidents, not just those which have occurred during employment or on the job.

To adequately evaluate, you may choose to create controls to meet your company’s needs and exposures.

3. Applying : Prior to implementing an MVR policy for existing employees, your HR department needs to evaluate the responsibilities for implementation.
4. Documenting: All MVR policies should include guidelines on how your company will retain records of applications, release forms, the MVR itself, violations, annual reviews and other warnings and actions as they relate to the MVR.

Remember, MVRs should always be obtained:
• Prior to employment
• Annually from all drivers
• Following an accident

Many companies may also want to consider evaluating an MVR more frequently for drivers who have marginal records. It is always better to be proactive and stay on top of things to avoid dramatic increases in movers insurance rates.

If you are considering an MVR policy at your company, Wolpert Insurance can help. We are always willing to provide examples, look over your existing documentation and provide guidance for implementing a new policy. All you have to do is give us a call!

Fireworks And A Mover’s Liability

With the 4th of July rapidly approaching, we thought: what is a better time than right now to talk about shipping hazardous materials such as fireworks? The moving and storage industry is regulated when it comes to rules by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT). As a business owner, paying attention to those specific rules is essential to the success or failure of your company – especially when it comes to something as serious as hazardous materials.

As defined by the DOT, hazardous materials may be classified as an item(s) that poses a risk to health, safety, or property. Recently, we discussed the various classes of hazards and which items may apply. In the spirit of Independence Day, let’s focus on DOT Hazard Class 1: Explosives – you know, fireworks!

First things first, in order to ship fireworks; in general, the DOT must issue Explosive (EX) Classification Approvals:
• All  explosives, prior to transportation, must be classed and approved by the DOT
• There must be written documentation of the materials being transported

Written documentation must include:
• Explosives (EX) approval number
• Proper shipping name
• Identification number
• UN packaging specific marking
• Proper packing lable
• Permit

Many of these documented numbers can be included on the shipping papers as opposed to the packaging – which makes for a more streamlined process of documentation for movers.

How does a person obtain approval from the DOT?

Prior to contacting you, the mover, an individual who wishes to ship hazardous materials must obtain approval from the DOT. In order to expedite the process, there is an online application process. This process can provide immediate confirmation, 24/7 access and instant tracking numbers.

As a mover, when dangerous or hazardous materials are in your shipment, your liability may change. Federal law PROHIBITS an individual to ship such materials without prior knowledge to the mover. As a mover, you must comply with 49 CFR Parts 171, 172, 173, and 177 as a hazardous materials carrier.

Ensure your movers insurance adequately covers your liability as it pertains to hazardous materials such as fireworks. Should a spill, damage or accident occur, you will want to understand your responsibility as the mover. At Wolpert Insurance, we are more than happy to go over these guidelines with you. Our goal is to provide you with information as it pertains to insurance for moving companies. We understand that there are key differences between that and a regular commercial truck’s liability. We want you to understand that as well – and get the protection you deserve.

So before you agree to ship fireworks in your cargo this Independence Day, talk to your friendly New England moving industry experts at Wolpert Insurance!