It makes sense to shop around for the best insurance policies if you want the best price. But insurance isn’t just about cost, and there are significant benefits to having your carriers and fleet insurance with a single provider.
“It closes the loop,” says Brooke Caldwell, National Transport Insurance’s (NTI) National Heavy Motor Product Manager – Fleet. “It means customers can go about their daily business and know they have an insurer that will back them if something goes wrong.”
If you’re managing a transport fleet, your clients likely already have insurance for their cargoes. But you don’t want to be caught out if they don’t, and you still need to cover your liability for damage to cargo.
Make sure your costs are covered
“A fleet insurance policy covers the truck itself,” says David Brando, NTI’s National Carriers Product Manager. “So that’s damage to it or damage it causes to another vehicle or other property.”
“A carriers policy covers the customer’s goods being transported. If a load is damaged, not delivered, or if there is a fire, the cargo is protected.”
If you’re a fleet owner, you should have both. And check that your policies include accident recovery. The costs can be considerable, so you want to make sure they’re covered too, as David explains.
“Recoveries are a big part of what we do … we have dedicated recovery teams in place. I think the most junior has probably 15 or 20 years experience. They know what they’re doing.”
“When there’s an accident, and there are clean-up costs, there can be ambiguity as to which policy picks up those costs. It could be the carrier’s policy because goods are damaged. The fleet policy might offer some cover and liability might come in if the accident causes damage to roads, docks, other property or people.”
Alongside the team’s experience, NTI’s internal process is another significant advantage. Unlike some competitors, NTI’s claims and clean-up teams are large, and they’re all in-house. They share knowledge and are responsible for delivering the best possible result, which doesn’t always happen with small, outsourced third-party teams.
“If you have all your policies with NTI, for example, we’ll cover it all. We’ll work out internally how to apportion the costs. If you have policies with different insurers, there can be a lot of back-and-forth to decide who covers what,” David says.
“It’s just a lot easier and quicker to get those issues resolved when you’re dealing with one insurance company instead of several.”
Mind the (insurance) gap
Policies are always carefully worded, but exclusions and coverage overlaps can still cause disputes and uncertainty between insurers. Lisa Naylor, NTI’s Claims Technical & Relationship Manager NSW/ACT, sees plenty of situations that are far from being clear-cut.
“We had a client who’d received a letter of demand from another insurance company regarding a contaminated load that had caused damage to a silo,” she recalls.
The letter wasn’t clear about what had happened and where the liabilities lay.
“We contacted the insurer and asked them to be clear about what property had suffered damage and how exactly they were suggesting the damage had been caused. The situation was that a cargo carried by our customer had become contaminated during transit.
“There was a claim lodged under their carriers policy, which insured the cargo that had become contaminated. Then, there was a second claim under the motor policy to cover the damage caused when the contaminated product was unloaded into the silo.
“There were costs associated with the removal of that product, and for cleaning the silo, as well as some downtime loss of wages whilst that process was underway.”
It was a potentially complex claim that could have involved multiple insurers and multiple policies. Fortunately, the customer had all their policies with NTI – Fleet, Carriers Protect and Liability – so from their side, the process was fast and straightforward.
David agrees that it makes sense to keep all your cover under the one roof. Recovering from an accident or incident can be stressful enough without payment-delaying disputes between insurers.
“We always go to bat for our customers,” David says, “but it’s much easier if there’s only one insurer involved.”
“If we’re doing that across multiple lines, with multiple products, you’ll get better outcomes than if you have two or three underwriters all trying to do the same thing.”