ANY “TRAILERS” YOU DON’T OWN…
I’ll apologize up-front because I’m about to get technical. Now, I’m sure you all read your truck insurance policies…right? And I’m just as sure that whenever you hire, borrow, lease or rent a trailer from someone else, you have all the necessary insurance in place to cover said non-owned trailer…correct? Good. If you’re that sure, you can stop reading and get back to doing whatever it was you were doing before you landed on this site. However, if you aren’t so sure, you might want to keep reading.
If you are a motor carrier for hire or “trucker,” you are probably insured under a more or less standard Commercial Auto Liability policy. If you’re policy is written by Eastern Atlantic, it is called the MOTOR CARRIER COVERAGE FORM or MCCF. The first few pages are called the Declarations and use numbered symbols next to the coverages you purchased as well as the premium. The main coverage is LIABILITY and almost every policy we issue uses covered auto symbol 67 to define it. This symbol means:
- Symbol 67 – Specifically Described “Autos” – Only those “autos” described in Item Three of the Declarations for which a premium charge is shown (and for Covered Autos Liability Coverage any “trailers” you don’t own while attached to any power unit described in Item Three).
If you are pulling a trailer that doesn’t belong to you and you are involved in an accident where that trailer contributes in any way to the injury of others or damage to their property, your policy will cover the loss* even though the trailer is not listed in your policy’s schedule of vehicles. This is true whether the trailer is leased, rented or simply borrowed from another trucker under a handshake agreement. There is no additional charge for non-owned trailers under symbol 67 because the liability coverage is provided ONLY while the trailer is attached to a scheduled power unit for which you are already paying a premium.
But what about the rare possibility that a non-owned trailer in your possession could be responsible for bodily injury or property damage to a member of the public when it is NOT attached to one of your scheduled power units?**
Hired Auto Coverage (symbol 68) if entered next to the liability coverage in the Declarations, would close this potential coverage gap. This is so important I will quote the pertinent part of the definition here:
- Symbol 68 – Hired “Autos” Only – Only those “autos” you lease, hire, rent or borrow. This does not include any “private passenger type:” “auto” you lease, hire, rent or borrow from any member of your household, any of your “employees”, partners…members…or agents or members of their households.
Notice how trailers are not mentioned. Only “private passenger type” vehicles are listed as not covered. Now you know why I apologized for getting technical. Who can remember this stuff? Maybe an example would help illustrate the need to be aware of this potentially serious coverage gap.
IT COULD HAPPEN TO YOU*
As a favor for a fellow owner-operator we’ll call Ed, a trucker we’ll call Joe picked up Ed’s trailer on his way home and used it for the backhaul he managed to find at the last minute. Joe avoided a lot of deadhead miles and Ed got his trailer back at no cost to him, even the customer was happy. Joe made arrangements to park Ed’s trailer on the street in front of his house. Ed was going to stop by bright and early next morning to hook on and pick up a load close by. Since he lived in a semi-rural neighborhood, Joe figured there wouldn’t be any issue with the fact that the 53 foot dry van was within two feet of the stop sign at the four-way intersection next to his house. It was parked next to the fading yellow paint on the curb indicating that this was a no parking zone.
Sometime during the wee hours that morning, a young man on a motorcycle drove past the parked trailer that blocked his view of the stop sign. At that moment, a garbage truck, having come to a complete stop at the four-way and unable to see the approaching motorcycle, proceeded through the intersection directly into the path of the motorcycle. The young man was killed and left behind a widow with a small child. Joe had no coverage since, according to the definition of symbol 67 (above), the trailer was not “…attached to any power unit described in…” his policy. Had he purchased Hired Auto Coverage with symbol 68 next to the liability coverage in his policy declarations, this horrific loss would have been covered.
Talk to your agent and review your coverage needs. Consider how unexpected circumstances can occur where leasing, hiring, renting or even borrowing a trailer might be desirable or even a necessity. Above all, don’t assume that an uncovered loss couldn’t happen to you.
(* Hypothetical losses used here are meant to describe coverage for non-owned trailers in a general way only. The circumstances of actual claims vary considerably and can impact coverage in unforeseeable ways.)
(**It is important to point out there is no coverage for any damage TO the non-owned trailer itself. For that, Hired Auto Physical Damage (also using symbol 68) would be needed, or Trailer Interchange Coverage (symbol 69) while “(I)n your possession Under A Written Trailer Or Equipment Interchange Agreement” would also cover damage to the trailer. Both of these Physical Damage coverages involve a premium charge, of course, and both are auditable at the end of your policy period.)