The Importance Of Wearing A Seatbelt: The Costs

Last week, we discussed the rules and regulations as they pertained to seat belts and your trucks within the moving and storage industry. The long and short of it is this: any driver in your fleet MUST wear a seatbelt or face violations and consequences.

Unfortunately, despite strict regulations from FMSCA, there are still commercial vehicle operators out there who are not wearing their safety belts. As a result, there are some serious costs that FMSCA associates with that. Without a solid policy within your company, your operators may not consider the true importance of wearing a seat belt.

Consider this:

According to the FMSCA, motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of lost work time and on-the-job-fatalities.

  • The average cost for property damage for a truck crash: $11,020
  • The average cost, per injury, for a truck crash: $174,367
  • The average cost per fatal truck crash: $3,469,962
  • The average cost for all truck crashes, per truck: $62,613

As an employer in this industry, these costs can add up. Consider that each workers compensation claim for a work-related employee fatality is well over $100,000. But it is not just about the cost in dollars and cents. The result of a fatal accident can also result in your moving company having to deal with much more:

  • Loss of knowledge and skills
  • Time spent replacing employees
  • Reassigning and retraining positions
  • Lost business
  • Legal fees
  • Increase in your movers insurance policy as a result of an increase in workers compensation, property, liability, commercial auto and health related insurance premium costs

At Wolpert Insurance, we don’t just want to help you with your insurance needs; we want help your company be successful at what you do. With that in mind, our goal is to provide you with pertinent information and regulations. When it comes to the safety of your drivers, and of your fleet, we want you to be informed. Check back next week to learn more about how these important safety regulations have an impact on your fleet’s FMSCA safety scores – and ultimately, your movers insurance!

The Importance Of Wearing A Seatbelt For Your Moving Company

In the moving and storage industry, you and your drivers sure are behind the wheel a lot. Depending on the amount of time spent in the vehicle, the risk of an accident increases.  When you and your employees are behind the wheel, are they sure to be wearing a seatbelt?

Considering the personal safety aspect is important, but of course, you have a business to think of as well. Did you know that if a commercial driver is pulled over and found to not be wearing a seatbelt there are serious consequences not just for the individual, but also for your moving company?  Each company is assessed based on the Safety Methodology System (SMS) from the FMSCA—violations of important regulations such as seatbelt laws do have an impact.

For commercial drivers, wearing a seatbelt is not an option.

Title 49, Section 392.16 of the Code of Federal Regulations states:

“A commercial motor vehicle that has a seat belt assembly installed at the driver’s seat shall not be driven unless the driver has properly restrained himself/herself with the seat belt assembly.”

Here are the facts:

  • The majority of commercial vehicles use the 3-point safety belt system: a lap belt and a shoulder belt is used in this assembly.
  • FMSCA states that: any commercial motor vehicle which has a seat belt assembly installed at the driver’s seat is not to be operated unless the driver has properly utilized the seat belt.

Violation of seatbelt requirements carries a fine that is counted against the moving company as a part of their Safety and Fitness Scores.

  • Under the Code of Federal Regulations section. 392.16, it states that: Failing to use seat belt while operating a CMV carries a violation Severity weight of 7.
  • CMV operators who are penalized this way have to worry about more than just the personal ramifications.
  • This type of violation impacts the carrier’s BASIC Unsafe Driving Score for a period of 24 months and 36 months for the individual driver’s score.
  • Depending on Safety and Fitness Scores, the impact could span to loss of business and refusal of movers insurance.

At Wolpert Insurance, we want you to be safe on the road, and we want you to be able to obtain insurance! Remember, driving safe is beneficial for every part of your company: from personal safety, to your business’s well-being, all the way to claims on your movers insurance policy.

In the next two weeks, we will delve into seatbelts and their impact on your company as it relates to safety scores, insurance, and costs – starting next week with the costs you could face.

How Can You Save On Your Movers Insurance Premium?

Did you know that at Wolpert Insurance we strive to obtain the best rates we con negotiate with our Carriers for moving companies?

As the owner of a company in the moving and storage industry, you are naturally exposed to many risks, especially when it’s related to your trucks and the time they spend on the road. But as a moving company, you’re probably not spending as much time on the road as a transportation or full-service trucking company, right?

Typically, here is the process of obtaining movers insurance:

  • An insurance company will offer a moving company a rate based on many factors including accident history, location, and perceived risks.

In Massachusetts, our insurance rates are generally higher because there are a lot of people and cars on the road at any given time. In terms of perceived risks, many insurance companies will simply use commercial trucking rates when you’re looking for coverage for your moving vehicles. However, your trucks stay motionless most of the day, so we may be able to help you with that.

Why should you have to pay expensive movers insurance premiums based on the risks of the road? At our agency, we may have a solution for you.

  • We understand better than anyone that during a move, your truck is usually parked on the side of the street or in a driveway pretty much all day.
  • We work with special underwriters and markets that may be able to write you a mover’s insurance policy that reflects these facts and reduces their premiums accordingly.

Why pay for premiums when you don’t think you’re necessarily exposed to the risks you’re paying for?

This program is not available to just anyone, so call us and we can help determine if you are eligible.

At Wolpert Insurance, we want to help business owners and operators of moving and storage companies like yours understand that we partner with you when it comes to insuring your risks. We understand that you may have a lot of questions, and we want to do our best to answer them. Reach out to us today for more information!

Moving Estimates

Running a successful business means paying attention to details. In the moving and storage industry, there sure are a lot of details to pay attention to aren’t there? While surely you can think of a surprisingly long list of important things to check not once, but twice, we argue that your paperwork – bills of lading, estimates and even receipts and quotes – are some of the most important things to pay attention to.

The U.S. Department of Transportation has strict regulations when it comes to the legal liability of moving companies as they carry out their services. We’ve recently gone over the different types of quotes which are legally acceptable as well as the requirements for an accurate bill of lading, but one thing we haven’t talked about is estimates.

Any carrier providing transportation or storage service of goods must issue an estimate for moves done or property it receives.

Without proper documentation, your movers insurance may not be able to protect you from costly liability claims that may occur from a move your business makes.

What Should An Estimate Entail?

An easy way to handle this requirement is to issue estimates for all of your transactions. Fortunately, the Department of Transportation makes it easy to comply – they offer all of the information you should include.

  1. Date of shipment
  2. Names of cosigner and consignee
  3. Number of packages being shipped
  4. An accurate description of the freight – including weight, volume and measurement
  5. The rates you have quoted and assessed
  6. Total charges due upon completion of transaction
  7. Transfer points and route of movement
  8. Address where recipient’s shipment will be delivered

This estimate should be agreed upon and shared BEFORE the shipment takes place. Prior to payment, a receipted copy should be given.

It is good practice to keep a copy of all estimates – this will help you to avoid any false claims or disputes about payment or services. At Wolpert Insurance, your best interest is our priority. Should you ever have to deal with any disputes regarding a documented estimate, we are always willing to help. Remember, keeping accurate and detailed records will always help you in the long run!

Pre-Employment Testing For New Hires

When it comes to hiring the right employees, you are likely investing a good amount of time and money into the process. Workers compensation costs can be a major expense in the moving and storage industry when hiring new employees. In Massachusetts, it is required that all employers provide workers compensation benefits to their employees. Depending on factors such as experience mods, rates and premiums, the cost can get pretty expensive, pretty quickly.

As an employer in an industry so dependent on an employee’s ability to lift and perform physical tasks, you cannot help but worry about the risk you face with regards to workers’ compensation claims. Surely you have heard the stories before: a company hires and employee and a few weeks later that employee becomes injured – and the moving and storage company has to pay. Between the risk of increased movers insurance rates and experience mods, as well as the loss of productivity for the company after losing the worker to injury, this can be a detrimental experience should you have to face it.

Although privacy laws and the ADA limit the types of questions you can ask potential hires, it does allow you to ask about the candidate’s capabilities with regards to the job. Additionally, pre-employment testing such as DOT physicals is acceptable and necessary in this industry.

Unfortunately, the rejection rate of those type of pre-employment tests are less than 1% – meaning many employees are hired and not fit for the job. One way that moving and storage industry can get around that is with pre-employment strength testing, also known as Isokinetic Testing.

What is Isokinetic Testing?
• A pre-employment physical test, usually involving three parts: the initial assessment, examination and evaluation
• The examination has three parts: history, systems review and tests/measures
• The evaluation focuses on key areas, such as: ability, activity, capacity, impairments, activity limitation, and job analysis

With a focus on all parts of the body and how they respond to work as it relates to the job function, it can provide a more in-depth analysis of a candidate’s ability to perform a job. In an industry such as the moving and storage industry, where physical ability is so imperative, this could be a great idea for your company.

Remember, no matter how much safety and training procedures you have in place, hiring an unfit employee can result in claims on your movers insurance. At Wolpert Insurance, we want to help you avoid that cost. Call us today and find out how you can utilize Isokinetic Strength Testing to avoid unnecessary claims.

Who Am I Responsible For Covering Under My Workers’ Compensation Policy?

As an employer, not matter what industry your company is in, you have a responsibility to your employees. Protecting them is part of your role. In the moving and storage industry, sometimes it may feel as if there are more risks than you are able to protect against. Fortunately, workers compensation exists to take care of everything and ease your fears.

In general, employers are responsible for protecting and providing workers’ compensation benefits to three different types of employees:

  1. Direct employees – A person hired to perform services or tasks under the direct control of another.
    2. Employees of uninsured subcontractors – While these types of employees are not limited to the construction industry, this is typically a contractor/subcontractor relationship. Three parties are involved: (1) the owner, who hires (2) the independent contractor to complete work and (3) the subcontractor hired by the independent contractor.
    3. DeFacto employees – Despite being an independent contractor, the IRS may still consider this employee an “employee-in-fact”.

In Massachusetts, there are certain circumstances were contractor and subcontractor rules apply.

  • Massachusetts Workers Compensation system protects workers from injury or work-related illness
    • Massachusetts General Laws c. 152, § 25A mandates that all employers provide this coverage to their employees

Additionally, the state mandates that all employers provide workers compensation insurance. Fortunately, the moving and storage industry can bundle that type of protection under their movers insurance. Remember: all moving companies with employees are required to carry worker’s compensation. In the event an employee is injured while moving someone else’s belongings, workers compensation protects both the employee and the employer.

With workers compensation insurance as part of your moving company’s protection, you can have a process for handling employee injuries. It is no secret that there is risk involved in what you do every day, so having a plan in place is essential to avoid lawsuits and claims, and to keep your business running effectively.

The Department of Industrial Accidents (DIA) handles worker’s compensation law in Massachusetts.  However, at Wolpert Insurance, our agents can help you distinguish the risks your moving and storage company faces and help you to determine and obtain an adequate amount of workers compensation insurance. We can talk about employer obligations and employee requirements. Whether you have questions about experience modification factors, workers compensation insurance for the moving and storage industry, or need assistance with existing claims, we can help! All you have to do is give us a call – we can’t wait to be of assistance.

Tire Maintenance For Your Truck: Safety

Did you know that only 9-percent of the vehicles on the road have properly inflated tires? It’s true. According to the Rubber Manufacturers Association (RMA) an astounding 11-percent of vehicles have at least one bald tire as well. This is pretty scary to think about, especially when you consider how important tires are to safety on the road.

No matter what type of vehicle you drive, tire maintenance is one of the most important things you can keep on top of. In the moving and storage industry, this is surely no different. Commercial trucks and vans handle a lot of cargo and are the foundation of your business. With that in mind, last week, we discussed tire regulations as they pertain to commercial vehicles. Once you have the regulations in check however, you need to make sure your tires are consistently operating at their safest – tire checks are essential to that.

When it comes to monitoring and maintaining your tires, you want to keep two things in mind:

  1. Tire pressure
    2. Tire wear

Checking the tire pressure on your vehicle is easy, too. Monthly, check to be sure the tires are inflated according to the manufacturer’s recommendations. To be safe, cross-reference that number with the number we told you about last week that the Department of Transportation recommends, too. The best time to do this is when the tires are cold – before a job is an ideal time.

Remember, changes in temperature will affect the tire pressure. If you find that there are some differentiations, check for any punctures, but keep in mind that New England weather can alter tire pressure fairly easily.

Next, check for tire wear. You can do this when you are checking tire pressure, for consistency. You want to watch for three important things.

  • A tire that is worn on the inside or outside edge – this could signal a problem with your tires’ alignment
    • Wear in the center of the thread – this could be you have an overinflated tire which could result in poor handling
    • Wear in both the inside and outside edges – this usually signals low tire pressure

Driving with tires that are improperly inflated or worn can result in blowouts, tread separation, poor handling and even increased fuel consumption. Additionally, any of these instances can cause an accident and result in a costly claim on your movers insurance.

At Wolpert Insurance, we strive to provide you as many resources as possible for the safety and success of your moving business. If you want a second opinion on the maintenance of your tires, we can certainly recommend some reputable auto repair shops in the New England area – all you have to do is give us a call!

Tire Maintenance For Your Truck: Regulations

In the moving and storage industry, your worries span beyond the cargo you carry. In order to keep you, your employees and your cargo safe and secure, you also need to worry about the condition of your trucks. One of the best ways to keep on top of that is with routine maintenance checks. On the top of your list, we recommend you put tire maintenance.

It makes sense, doesn’t it? The tires of your trucks and vans are some of the most important pieces of the puzzle. Without their safe maintenance, you could find yourself stranded, or worse, involved in an accident!

We’re going to talk about tire maintenance in two parts. This week, we’ll talk about the regulations and requirements as they are set forth by the U.S. Department Of Transportation – in this industry, you always want to be sure you are obeying the rules. And next week, we’ll talk about how to monitor and maintain your tires for safety.

As of April 2013, § 393.75 as it relates to tires lists all of the regulations for tires on commercial vehicles as well as restrictions, tire inflation rules and any other information you could want. At Wolpert Insurance, we want safety to be the top priority for your business, so allow us to break down some of the basics when it comes to tire safety regulations.

If your tires have:
• Ply or belt material exposed
• Tread
• Sidewalk separation
• Any cut
• Leaks

Then you cannot operate the vehicle and should repair or replace your tires.

Tread should be something you check on and maintain frequently. Any fire on the front wheels of a truck should have a tread groove depth of at least 4/32 of an inch. The front wheels are imperative to safety and no truck should be operated with retreaded tires on the front wheels.

Additionally, no commercial truck should be considered safe and operable if the tire inflation pressure is not at regulation. Checking on the tire inflation pressure is quick and simple and should be done regularly for safety. Depending on the size of the load, the tire inflation pressure requirements differ. The DOT recommends that if the average speed of the vehicle is between 41 and 55 mph, the minimum inflation pressure buildup should be 5 psi.

Just as not all trucks are created equal, neither are all tires. As part of our experience when it comes to movers insurance, Wolpert Insurance is committed to safety and regulatory facets of the moving and storage industry. If you need assistance with any regulation, you can always give the agency a call and someone will be more than happy to help!

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!