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!

What Is A Moving Tariff?

Running a successful business is all about following the rules, isn’t it? When you are in the moving and storage industry it sure is! In this business, people trust you with a lot – all of their personal possessions to be exact. So when individuals make the decision to move, they typically do their research first. In order to make it easier to compare reputable companies, the federal government has placed many regulations on moving companies.

We’ve talked in depth about the Bill of Lading required in order to transport any materials, and the importance of having adequate movers insurance to protect your liability. We’ve even talked about the various shipping codes the Federal government has in place. But what about the price your charge for your services?

This is where the moving tariff comes into play.

The moving company tariff is:
• Protection for both customers and businesses
• A list of every charge any mover can charge a customer for services rendered

At minimum, a moving company tariff must include:
1. An accurate description of your services
2. The specific rates you charge and how they are calculated
3. Rates that the customer may incur for any shipment

Your moving tariff should be clear enough that the customer can understand every aspect of the move – from the price of each box to the cost of unpacking those boxes at the end of the move.

Although they are typically digital, you must have your moving tariff available for any customer who requests to see it. You can also include a section outlining the moving company’s liability – which is a benefit for everyone involved. This section can describe what you are and are not responsible for and the limits for filing claims.

In Massachusetts, The Department of Public Utilities regulates household moves – and requires all movers in the state to be responsible for the published rates and policies set forth in the Moving Tariff. This makes this document extremely important to the success of your business. At Wolpert Insurance, we are your moving and storage experts. If you need help with your moving company tariff, all you have to do is give us a shout and we’ll certainly help you out!

Do You Have Warehouse Legal Liability Insurance?

When families make the decision to move their lives to somewhere new, their mover is their go-to for assistance. Working in the moving and storage industry, you may feel like you really get to know your clients – especially when you have to store their personal possessions in your warehouse for a prolonged period of time.

Have you reviewed your movers insurance policy lately? If you are actively using a warehouse to store goods, you may want to be certain that your policy offers warehouse legal liability insurance coverage. Believe it or not, this is one of the most commonly misunderstood coverage options – for both the warehouse operator (the mover) and for the customer. If you have questions about this coverage option, you are not alone. We are here to help clear the confusion.

In the most basic sense, warehouse legal liability coverage is a type of liability insurance policy that comes into play in the event a warehouse operator fails to exercise reasonable care in the handling and storage of goods. This can result in loss or damage to those goods.

• In the event negligence occurs, the insurance company would be responsible to pay out the customer for the loss
• You would never name a customer as an additional insured under the legal liability policy
• This policy only applies to negligence – the customer is still required to obtain insurance for other types of losses that may incur to their goods during storage (for example, fire, flood, etc.)

When you have the right coverage options, liability limits and adequate scope of liability protection, you can feel safe that your moving and storage company is safe from financial turmoil.

At Wolpert Insurance, we offer New England Moving & Storage insurance coverage that may include warehouse legal liability. We consider all of your unique needs before offering you a policy. This means that if you face risks related to a warehouse, we will explain those risks and recommend this policy. We always work with your best interest in mind. And of course, we are always willing to answer any questions you may have about your mover’s insurance policy!

What Is A Mover Responsible For During Storage In Transit?

Oftentimes, during a move, circumstances arise that require the mover to be responsible for the individual’s goods beyond the time it takes the transport the items from point A to point B. when that happens, employees in the moving and storage industry always want to be sure they are adequately prepared and understand their liability.

What is “storage-in-transit?

Storage-in-transit, or SIT, refers to any situation where the mover may arrive at an individual’s new home, and for one reason or another, the person is not able to accept the delivery. This could occur for a number of reasons.

• The previous tenants have not yet vacated
• The closing was delayed
• The doors are locked and they keys cannot be located

As a mover, during SIT, the shipment can be stored at your warehouse and delivered to the new residence when the individual is ready to accept delivery. This is a service that you can charge for – but taking up the task of providing storage for a shipment comes with increased liability.

What are the movers’ responsibilities during SIT?

When you accept property for SIT, you need to be sure that the bill of lading makes note of that, as well as of the liability options you have selected. Whether you have assumed full value or released value for the transportation of the shipment will also apply to the storage you will be providing.

• SIT storage is generally limited to a period of 90 days
• At the end of the SIT period, the shipment reverts to permanent storage – and the liability changes as any claims cannot be considered part of the move

During the SIT period, the mover should notify the client, in writing, of:
• The date when stored-in-transit will convert to permanent storage
• The date the movers liability will end – for questions on that, you can always consult your movers insurance policy or the federal regulations
• The specified period of time you will hold goods in storage
• Specifically what is being held in storage
• The liability options selected

Here at Wolpert Insurance, we are always willing to talk with movers about their needs, questions and concerns. All you have to do is give us a call and you’ll see for yourself why we have asserted ourselves as your expert consultants!

How Do I Obtain A Hydraulic License?

In Massachusetts, there are changes ahead for the moving and storage industry. Last week, we talked to you about the regulation for hydraulic licenses. We anticipate that more of you will need to obtain a hoisting license in order to remain compliant with the laws and regulations in MA.

Not sure what to do? We can help! We’ve already discussed the simple requirements for obtaining a hydraulic license. To recap:

• A current, valid driver’s license
• 18 years of age
• Specific certification forms and an application – obtainable from the Massachusetts Department of Public Safety and Security’s website: http://mass.gov/dps.
• Successfully completing the written examination

The written examination is often the part that commercial drivers will fear the most. As with any vehicle, sometimes we can feel that knowing how to drive it and writing it all down on paper can be two entirely different things. We want to help ease your fears.

Let’s break down the requirements on the written examination for obtaining a hydraulic license.

You must:
1. Demonstrate the ability to operate the equipment
2. Demonstrate the ability to comprehend and interpret all placards, operators’ manuals, safety codes and other information related to safe hoisting operations
3. Demonstrate the ability to communicate in applicable language – signals or radio instructions included
4. Demonstrate knowledge of emergency procedures
5. Demonstrate knowledge of all Massachusetts general laws, state statutes and regulations

For hoisting, all the regulations can be found on the Massachusetts Public Safety website.

As part of our dedication to offering quality and affordable movers insurance throughout New England, Wolpert Insurance is committed to understanding all of your needs. Our expert agents can help you with any questions you may have about proper regulation and hoisting licensing. All you have to do is give us a call!

Changes Ahead: Hydraulic Licenses

Change is inevitable. However, being prepared for change is not always as inevitable. Without the right information and attention to detail, being blindsided by change is easy. As a business owner in the moving and storage industry, you likely spend a great deal of time focusing on any government issued changes. In Massachusetts, there are some changes ahead when it comes to licensing that could impact your business if you are not prepared!

Last week, we discussed the MA requirements for obtaining a hoisting license. Although throughout the United States, movers are required to have licenses specific to their industry, in Massachusetts, the government is making some changes to the regulations for hydraulic licensing.

What are the changes?

According to the Massachusetts Department of Public Safety and Security, the changes  to the hoisting regulations are being made to reflect changes made to the hoisting law M.G.L. 146, § 53. These changes include:

• Short- term equipment rentals
• Temporary permits for hoisting machinery
• Specific exemptions for companies operating on a public utility company or on their own property

The most important change, despite the changes to regulations, will impact your ability to obtain movers insurance. Without a proper license you cannot obtain insurance – this can impact your credibility with customers and your liability.

In Massachusetts, hoist operators that lift more than 500 lbs, where the height of the lift exceeds 10 feet, must have a hydraulic license issued by MA effective Dec 1, 2013.

The new regulations state that at that time, you will NOT need a license to operate the machinery on your own property; however, for movers, that is often not always the case. At Wolpert Insurance, we recommend you carefully review the guidelines on the Massachusetts Department of Public Safety and Security’s website and determine your company’s needs. Of course, we are happy to assist in any way we can and answer any questions!

Your Liability Decoded: Full Value Protection

In the moving and storage industry, you have a lot of different responsibilities. You are not only responsible for your own liability and well-being, but when you accept a shipment, you are also liable, to some extent, for the value of the goods you are transporting.

However, there are different levels of liability. As a business owner, it is imperative to understand the rules that come with moving liability. The Surface Transportation Board (STB) outlines the different levels of liability and your rights and responsibilities. All movers are obligated to adhere to these standards. This makes understanding liability, in its most basic sense, extremely important to your business’s success.

You have two options:
1. Full (Replacement) Value Protection
2. Released Value

Let’s talk about the first one…
• This is the most comprehensive plan available for liability protection
• Articles that are lost, damaged or destroyed will be (at your option) either repaired, replaced, or paid for in a cash settlement
• This takes into account the current market replacement value – regardless of age or condition of the items in question
• Depreciation is never a factor with this option

The mover will charge a fee to the customer for this option. Since this type of liability is chargeable, the price varies from mover to mover. Under this option, movers are permitted to limit their liability for loss or damages if there are items of extraordinary value. These items are always specifically listed on your bill of lading (BOL).

*Remember, both of the options available 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.

Obtaining movers insurance is the first step to protecting your liability. The second step involves you understanding the guidelines put into place. Be sure to check in next week when we talk about the second option you may be obligated to when it comes to assuming liability. At Wolpert Insurance, we have carved out a niche for the moving and storage industry – understanding the rules and regulations is part of our job, and helping you is our passion! Call us if you have any questions, whether you’re on the road or not!

Who Needs A Hydraulic License?

When you are working in the moving and storage industry, being ahead of change is essential to remaining successful. Since regulations can dictate whether or not you can operate your business, any alterations made to regulations are imperative knowledge. As you know, all motorists in Massachusetts are required to have a valid license and insurance. In this industry, however, a typical license won’t qualify you to drive the commercial vehicles your business requires.

While there are many different commercial licenses, in the moving and storage industry, there is one of particular importance: hoisting licenses.

Who must have a hydraulic license?

Also known as a hydraulic license, in Massachusetts, a hoisting license is required for anyone who will operate derricks, cableways, machinery used for discharging cargoes, temporary elevator cars used on excavation work or any machinery used for hoisting material, according to the Massachusetts Executive Office of Public Safety and Security.

If you are a mover, you know that having the right licensing is imperative to the operation of your business, your credibility, and your ability to obtain movers insurance. So how can you obtain a hydraulic license in MA?

• Drivers must be 18 years of age
• Drivers must currently possess a valid driver’s license
• Must send (to the Department) a completed hoisting license application – which is available at http://mass.gov/dps.
• Must also send: a copy of your D.O.T. Medical Certification OR 1998 ANSI B30.5 qualifications for operators or medical examiner’s certificate as well as a completed Medical Examiner’s Form – available on the same site mentioned above and a check or money order for $75.00

*Remember, you must also pass a written examination.

Once you do this, you are a licensed hoisting operator in Massachusetts – congratulations!

At Wolpert Insurance, we strive to stay ahead of change and provide you with the most up-to-date information to keep your business successful – which is why we want to give you more detail on the proposed changes to the hydraulic licensing requirements in Massachusetts! Check back next week for more information.