Besides the fact that having trucking insurance is law, verifying your carrier’s insurance certificate is an invaluable practice for guarding against chameleon carriers and identity theft.
The Law. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, known at the FMCSA, has set the standard for minimum insurance coverage for motor carriers, freight brokers and freight forwarders. See Example below taken from the FMCSA website:
AUTHORITIES SUBJECT TO FILING
|BMC-91 or BMC-91X||Public liability insurance (bodily injury/property damage/environmental restoration)||
|BMC-84 or BMC-85||
||Broker of Freight|
|BOC-3||Legal Process Agents||All Authorities|
So, naturally if you are a law abiding individual or corporation in the trucking industry, you have firstly insured yourself with the required insurance and secondly done your due diligence when employing a third-party to be sure they are also law abiding.
Speaking from the vantage point of a freight broker, we deal with hundreds of carriers on a weekly basis that want to contract to move our freight. First of all, we begin with our routine carrier development screening process that all new and reactivated carriers must pass. We must be provided with:
- A completed and signed Carrier Packet (Motor Carrier agreement and Carrier Application)
- Insurance, Authority Page, and W-9
- Approval process by SAFER, DAT, Internet Truckstop, FMCSA/CSA, and TIA.
- Safety Letter in the case of “over-threshold” safety scores. (Over-threshold scores are a percentage of violations over the specific amount deemed by the FMSCA as “unsafe.” These violations must be resolved with a Safety Letter which states the action being taken to reduce the safety percentages.)
Let’s settle on the insurance certificate for this blog. Why is it so useful? Let’s looks at the sample I have provided (Certificates vary in set-up depending on the insurance company, but this is pretty standard.)
Firstly, you have the normal information such as name, address, specified coverage, etc. which is all fairly straight forward to the casual eye. But the value comes when you CALL to verify the certificate of insurance. Don’t just accept it at first glance, as you can see, anyone can download a certificate (I did for the sample) and put some fake copied policy numbers, coverage, and phone numbers on it. It WILL look legitimate too…until…dom dom dom…you call to verify it.
Once you call and are on the phone with the insurance company, double-check the policy by asking if their coverage is still valid. (Side Note: Policy expiration should be given a careful eye! Be sure it is not going to expire will they are on the road with your load!) Once you have done that, ask to be provided with certificate that is issued directly from the insurance company and keep this on file with your carrier’s records. Do not accept any certificates that are issued by the carrier directly without verifying coverage from their insurance provider. Do not accept a certificate that contains the trucks driver’s personal information where the INSURANCE COMPANY’s information belongs. If there is, that is a big ol’ red flag of caution. Also, avoid accepting loads late in the day when the majority of insurance companies have closed already. You cannot call to verify the coverage and you DO NOT want your freight on the road without proper verification–it could be all the difference in being the payer or the payee in case of an incident.
There you have it. Did you realize that that simple insurance certificate could be so valuable in preventing identity theft and chameleon carriers from illegally hauling your freight? Keep it in mind the next time you contract a carrier and be sure to check the information twice!