What to do when your insurance policy doesn’t provide the coverage you need

If you discover that your insurance policy doesn’t provide coverage for something you need coverage for, there is almost certainly a solution to provide that missing coverage.

If you took my advice in my last article and read your insurance policy(s), I would not be surprised to learn that you discovered that something (a peril, cargo commodity, operation type or location, etc.) is not covered by your policy that you need coverage for. It’s actually not that uncommon. Thankfully there’s almost always a solution available to get the coverage you may be currently lacking. Frequently it is fairly simple to get the necessary coverage added to the existing policy.

Other times however, because of the uniqueness of what coverage is missing, we may need to consider other insurance options that are available.

The most common missing coverages are somewhat obvious. In fact, most all of us are familiar them. Situations where we’ve bought/sold a truck or trailer, hired/fired a driver or moved to a new address. Adding or removing equipment and adding or removing a driver is as simple as notifying your insurance agent. Most agencies, including mine, will require some type of documentation from the insured requesting the change. Typically the only challenge here is when the insured wants to add more trucks or drivers than the insurance policy will allow for.

From time to time one of my new insureds with less than one year in business, will buy a truck or two to grow their company. They will call me up and ask to add the new truck(s) to their existing policy. Unfortunately, some of them had forgotten that their policy does not allow them to exceed 1 truck within the first two years of business.

That leaves them with a difficult choice to make. I can either get them a policy from another insurance company, which will all but certainly have a much higher premium, or they need to sell the extra truck(s) so they are not in violation of failing to schedule all owned and/or operated commercial vehicles on their policy.

An address change isn’t always as simple. If it’s only a mailing address change, or a business address change that is within the same state, it’s typically the same process as adding or removing equipment or drivers. But if it’s a new business address in a different state, it can become quite cumbersome and a bit complicated very quickly. Oftentimes it can require a new insurance agent and/or a different insurance company.

Why? Because every insurance company has to be approved by each state’s Department of Insurance to be able to provide insurance in that state. Many insurance companies providing commercial auto coverage with filings (the BMC91 filing for the MCS90 endorsement required by the FMCSA) only provide insurance to a limited number of states. There are only a few insurance companies that offer commercial auto insurance nationwide. Likewise, that is also true for insurance agents. We are required to be appointed (licensed) in each state in which we have insureds we are a producer (agent) for.

Changing or updating commodities is where things can get dicey extremely quickly. As I explained in my Why won’t an insurance company give me a quote article, insurance companies only insure trucking companies that fit their specific appetite. All insurance companies I am aware of have commodities that fit their appetite and commodities that don’t fit. As such, an insurance company will not provide insurance to any trucking company that hauls those commodities that don’t fit their commodities appetite.

Some of the most difficult commodities that don’t fit many insurance company’s appetite is HAZMAT that requires placards. There are a limited number of insurance companies who will provide insurance to any trucking company hauling HAZMAT. Additionally, the ones I am aware of all require that a trucking company have many consecutive years of safe operations before they will even consider offering a quote for a trucking company wanting to haul HAZMAT.

To make it even more complicated, insurance company’s commodities appetites might seem unreasonable to us truck owners. For example, some insurance companies will insure a trucking company that hauls livestock but won’t insure trucking companies who haul cars. Yet another insurance company will insure a trucking company that hauls cars but won’t insure a trucking company that hauls livestock.

That is the same for virtually all commodities including but not limited to Seafood, Electronics, Grain & Feed (hopper loads), Rock & Sand, Pharmaceuticals, Non-HAZMAT corrosives, Machinery, Oversize commodities… the list is virtually endless. That is one of the most important reason why it is imperative to understand what commodities are covered by the insurance policy.

As I explained in my last article Why every truck owner should read their insurance policies, just because we have “general freight” listed on the cargo coverage doesn’t mean we have coverage for any commodity we haul.

It’s impossible for me or any other insurance agent to detail each and every possible change in your business that you should notify your insurance agent and/or insurance company to make certain you have coverage. The very best thing to do – any time you make a change in your company’s property (new address, office building, shop, add/remove truck/trailer, etc.) or a change in the company’s operation (hired/fired a driver, begun hauling a new commodity or stopped hauling a commodity, changed where the company is operating or radius of operation, etc.)… Always notify your insurance agent and/or insurance company PRIOR to implementing that change.

Otherwise, the change can result in a very difficult circumstance that you regret.

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