As a contractor in the State of Florida, the top source of any claims you might have other than Workers Comp will be your vehicles. Because of this exposure, you must not only have the “common sense” plan in place, you may want to take a few steps further in case John Morgan or any of his trial attorney associates start sending you subpoenas and asking you all kinds of questions.
- What kind of protection do you have in place? One of the first big questions you need to ask yourself (and most overlooked) is do you have any coverage? Many small contractors will have their company vehicles insured under a Personal Auto Policy (PAP) because they think that will save a few dollars. This doesn’t mean you can’t do this. It DOES mean you should check your policy carefully. Many carriers will happily endorse your personal vehicle to respond to business related claims, sometimes for less than $100 a year. This extra cost typically coincides with the additional premium charged by a Business Auto Policy (BAP). Without this coverage, you may have ZERO protection. Go here for a detailed explanation of the difference between the two coverage’s.
- Do You Need a Written Fleet Policy? You should, especially if you have more than 2 vehicles or drivers. If that sounds like a lot of work, copy one of our templates as a starting point and save yourself the time of reinventing the wheel. Now why have one? If you ever find yourself on the bad end of a claim where your driver tapped the bumper of a vehicle and suddenly that vehicle’s “injured” driver has severe brain cramps etc., then you will be forced to prove that your driver and your company by default were not negligent. For example: How do you prove you told your driver to never talk or text on their cell phone if you do not have a WRITTEN policy that directs them never to talk or text on their cell phone? Although none of us may like the current situation with trial lawyers, we still need to protect ourselves in case we run into one of their clients!
- Are daily vehicle inspections necessary? This depends greatly on your specific exposure and what kind of equipment you have on the road. FDOT may have their own opinions too, which may answer all your questions right there. Bottom line is this: Even though they are not always required, they are still nice to have since they will give you a defensible paper trail should you ever have a claim. When you have many vehicles, you may be able to get better rates with an insurance carrier when they see your detailed records that you keep. This type of loss prevention really impresses some carriers. Even if they do not ask, show them anyways!
- What if you are special? Every contractor has their own unique exposures. Contractors hauling asphalt are VERY different than a single electrical journeyman. If you would like advice on how to set up a program, contact our office for a consultation. We would be happy to help.