It’s critically important for Insurance professionals to educate their clients in the standard practices of following safety protocols to avoid heavy losses. Over the years we all have probably heard of horror stories involving a moving company that didn’t follow the safety rules or government safety regulations. In my experience, the cause of this is typically due to the lack of training by management and/or employees. Unfortunately, those companies that are not safety oriented tend to be the companies that sustain the most losses, some quite devastating. I remember, back in the day when I was a cargo claims adjuster for a national van line, there was an instance where I listened in shock as a claims rep for a moving agent told me that “everybody knows that 90% of logs are fraudulent.” Obviously, this is a cynical and dangerous mindset to have when it comes to company safety and compliance procedures.
I remember one incident in particular that has always stayed with me as an object lesson in how not following the prescribed safety protocols led to a very bad outcome:
We had a client Insured with us who’s over-the-road driver was hauling a load on the highway at night. He wanted to call home, so he pulled his tractor-trailer to the shoulder, parked, and turned on his hazard lights. Also, on the same road that night were two young women driving home from college. Allegedly, the driver of the other vehicle didn’t know that the tractor-trailer had stopped on the shoulder but thought that the rig was actually heading towards an exit. The car ended up slamming into the back of the trailer causing the students to be seriously injured. In fact, one of the girl’s lost an arm in the collision. Troopers who responded to scene took note of empty wine cooler bottles. The moving company was fairly certain that they had no liability for this accident. After all, the other vehicle slammed in the parked trailer, which had its hazard lights on, and it appeared as though the occupants had been drinking alcohol while on the road.
Unfortunately for the moving company, the other parties hired a very knowledgeable and experienced transportation attorney and ended up filing a lawsuit against the moving company. During litigation, the plaintiff’s attorney pointed out that the driver for the moving company violated transportation regulations by pulling over to making a personal phone call, not an emergency-based phone call. In addition, the truck driver did not put out required three safety reflector triangles as mandated by DOT regulations. The plaintiff’s position was that “but for” the driver not wanting to make a personal call and not taking the time to put out the triangles, the claimants could have arrived home safely that night. The result of the case? The claims team for the moving company decided to throw in the towel and accept liability for the accident.
The moral of the story? Safety regulations might seem like a nuisance to observe, but by not implementing and practicing safety protocols, can result in unfortunate consequences for the moving
Written By: Daniel Meissner
Dan has a CPCU and an AU and has been a moving and storage underwriter for over 20 years. However, one of his proudest accomplishments is having a daughter who graduated Summa Cum Laude in Math & Economics from a private university and currently works for a national cable TV station.