If you own or manage a fleet of heavy-duty commercial trucks, you're likely only earning money for your business when your vehicles are on the road. An accident that leaves a fleet vehicle inoperable, even for a brief period of time, can significantly impact your bottom line by forcing you to cancel or reroute shipments or delaying deliveries. How can you minimize the repair costs you pay following an accident, and what should you do to keep your operations moving while your vehicle is being repaired? Read on to learn more about your potential liabilities if your commercial truck is damaged in an accident, as well as what you can do to ensure rapid repair or keep the revenue flowing while your fleet vehicle is in the shop.
When are you liable for repair costs stemming from an accident?
Your first step upon learning a fleet vehicle has been damaged in an accident should be to obtain a copy of the police report and contact your insurance company. If no police report was generated and your driver insists he or she was not at fault, you may have more difficulty getting the other driver's insurance to pay for any damage than if you have a verified report indicating which driver was at fault. Regardless of whether a police report was generated, your insurance agent should handle the claim from this point forward, contacting an in-network repair shop and having your truck repaired or repainted as quickly as possible to ensure it's returned to you in the same (or better) condition than it was prior to the accident. Your agent will also be responsible for contacting the other driver's insurance company to seek payment for any necessary repairs. In some cases, in order to return your truck to you as quickly as possible, your insurance company may pay for these repairs itself and then seek reimbursement from the other driver's insurance company through a process known as subrogation.
If your fleet driver was at fault, your financial liability will depend on the type of insurance you carried on your fleet vehicles. Physical damage coverage isn't required by law (unlike primary liability coverage), but will help repair your fleet vehicle if it's damaged in an at-fault accident. If you don't have this coverage, you could be stuck paying out of pocket for most repairs. Cargo insurance can also help cover any damage to cargo in the accident, and can also cover certain cargo-related costs your business incurs while your vehicle is in the shop for repairs (for example, breach of contract penalties for delays in cargo shipment due to your vehicle being inoperable).
What should you do to minimize the financial damage of having your vehicle inoperable for a period of time?
Depending upon the financial impact your business may suffer by having one of its vehicles inoperable for a period of time, you may want to investigate your rental options. Certain commercial truck insurance coverage options may even cover rental costs, but in many cases, paying out of pocket to rent a commercial truck for a few days or even weeks is well worth it when it comes to getting your items shipped on time and avoiding any penalties or customer dissatisfaction.
You'll also want to be sure to use an in-network body shop or mechanic for heavy equipment repairs. Going outside your insurance company's network of approved shops could lead you to incur additional repair costs (or even cause your insurance company to refuse to pay for repairs entirely), and your insurance agent should be better able to expedite the repair process when you use an in-network shop.
When you washed your car last, did you take the time to really inspect the body? Did you notice any rust forming anywhere on the body? Are you aware of the fact that allowing the rust unrepaired will eventually cause you a great deal of grief. On my site, you will find some tips on preventing rust, how to make small repairs yourself and advice on when to have the professionals take a look. I have learned through personal experience how costly rust can be if you do not take the time and invest the money in making the small repairs. Hopefully, the information I have provided you can help you avoid the same expenses.