CASE #145 – Trucker delivers long arm tractor to bridge.
In the scenario described below, we briefly summarize a collision in an effort to highlight the importance of certain applicable coverages. When given the opportunity, your agent will analyze your policy(ies) to ensure adequate protection for the loads you’re hauling. Sometimes however, truckers take their insurance for granted thinking that they’re fully covered for whatever they choose to haul. That is the case here where an unfamiliar load is hauled which leads to a loss and an underinsured situation.
When this trucker decided to deliver a piece of heavy equipment, his problems began the moment it was loaded onto the trailer. First, this was not a normal load for this driver. His knowledge of heavy equipment was limited and his cargo limits were not adequate. His cargo (a long arm tractor) was improperly loaded onto the trailer which allowed the tractor’s arm to release, extending its height above 14 ft. – higher than the bridges on his route. Secondly, and very importantly, the trucker did not know the height of his load. According to the highway patrol, the trucker’s load was already higher than allowed on that route before the arm released.
As a result, his cargo struck a traffic light entering the freeway. Once on the freeway, the tractor’s arm extended and it didn’t take long before it collided with a bridge at roughly 40-50 mph.
The bridge sustained deep gashes in the concrete and a gaping hole roughly 6 ft. x 4 ft. which exposed the rebar inside. Debris from the collision was scattered all over the freeway – luckily there were no injuries to other motorists. The long arm tractor, the trailer and the truck all sustained serious damage. The roadway beneath the bridge had impact damage from the falling concrete. The driver was not critically injured, but did sustain cuts and bruises.
Coverage in this case is as follows: The damage to the bridge and roadway would be covered under a commercial auto liability policy. The damage to the truck would be covered under a physical damage policy. The damage to the trailer would also be covered under a physical damage policy if it is listed on the policy and owned by the insured. Otherwise, the damage to the trailer would likely be covered under an unidentified trailer physical damage policy. The damage to the long arm tractor would be covered under a cargo policy. Injuries sustained by the driver would be covered under workers compensation if the driver is an employee; or major medical or occupational accident if the driver is an independent contractor.
1) Anytime you haul commodities different from normal, it’s very important to check with your agent to be sure your coverage and limits are adequate for your equipment and cargo. While limits can easily be changed for different situations, policies often contain exclusions.
2) Check the contract that you have with your broker to be sure you’re meeting minimum required limits and not breaching the contract.
3) Whenever you are carrying a wide load or tall load, you should know the height and width of your cargo and equipment and plan your route accordingly.
4) When securing your cargo, be sure to check with FMCSA guidelines for the latest cargo securement rules. (www.fmcsa.dot.gov)
Not all situations are exactly the same and may require additional investigation to conclude actual coverage. The situation above is meant as a general overview of the claim described and not an actual account of the incident or the coverage(s) providing protection.