Loading and Unloading Accidents: Are You Covered by Your Commercial Auto Policy?

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Mishaps can cause injury or property damage—make sure you’re protected

Accidents happen—especially when your work involves loading and unloading of heavy or fragile items. And whether someone gets injured or there’s substantial damage to property, having the right insurance coverage can be the one thing that prevents you from suffering financial loss. If you have a commercial auto policy, you may believe that you’re covered for mishaps like these, but not all policies provide the same protection, so it’s important to be clear on what yours includes. Here are some important facts to be aware of:

Determining what’s covered and what’s not

If an accident occurs during the loading or unloading of property, the first thing to consider is which vehicle was being used at the time. If you or an employee were using a vehicle that is covered under your commercial auto policy, then you would be protected. In addition, these conditions must also apply to your situation:

If a third party files a lawsuit, the person or company named in the lawsuit must be “the insured:” So for example: You are unloading a piece of equipment and it falls out of your vehicle and somehow injuries someone and/or gets damaged, and that person decides to file a lawsuit against you or your company. You and your company are “the insured” in this case and coverage would apply.

The injury or damage has to be caused by the accident: If the damage occurs afterward or in a separate incident from the loading or unloading, then it likely won’t be covered.

Care, custody, and control exclusion

It’s not uncommon for a commercial general liability policy to have an exclusion that applies to the personal property being loaded or unloaded. When you or your employee has property that does not belong to them personally and it is damaged or destroyed, it is possible that the loss will not be covered. To clarify, if any of these three terms apply to your situation, then the CCC exclusion will most likely go into effect:

Care: To have temporary responsibility of watching over the property

Custody: To be responsible for the safekeeping of the property

Control: To have power over the property

Although the CCC exclusion may seem pretty cut and dry, the reality is it can be very confusing and minimal changes in an event can affect whether or not the property will be covered. Often, loading and unloading accidents that result in damage are assessed on an individual basis. It’s best to discuss exactly what your policy covers with your provider to make sure you don’t experience any gaps in coverage.

Third-party property damage

Although the property that’s damaged in this type of accident may not be covered, if it causes damage to another item, the other item is most often covered under your policy. For example, if you are unloading a new washing machine from your truck and it somehow falls and lands on and dents a parked car, and the owner decides to sue, your policy would cover the damage to that car.

Accidents involving mechanical devices

If your loading or unloading accident occurs while you’re using a forklift or a similar vehicle to transfer the property, you’d most likely be out of luck. Commercial auto will only cover accidents that occur with a device that is attached to your vehicle (like a crane) and the use of a hand truck.

Loading and unloading accidents are not uncommon and if your business involves the delivery or transfer of items on a regular basis, it’s crucial to make sure that your commercial auto policy provides the adequate amount of coverage.

Before you start to stress, talk to us about exactly what you need and we’ll help you obtain the right insurance solution for your company. Call us at 305-648-7070 or fill out our online contact form.