Avoiding professional indemnity claims when switching insurers

BROKERS are sometimes faced with a dilemma when recommending a different commercial and heavy motor fleet policy to their client. It is assumed that as a trusted advisor, the broker will offer quality options to their clients, and secondly, that all insurance policies are more or less the same.

In fact, there many subtle differences in the wording and the level of cover provided by different policies, even those provided by ‘blue ribbon’ insurers. These loopholes can result in uninsured losses exceeding tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars, exposing the broker to a professional indemnity claim.

Most policies for passenger vehicles provide robust levels of cover. Potential losses are much smaller and in general, most claim problems can be easily negotiated to a satisfactory outcome. 

However, greater focus needs to be taken when comparing commercial and heavy motor fleet policies. Special consideration needs to be given to:

  • High-value units (e.g. luxury sedans, specialised commercial units or heavy vehicles equipped with expensive accessories, e.g. tray-mounted cranes, tradesman’s racks, refrigerated bodies etc).
  • Heavy units that require different licence classes to operate.
  • Vehicles used in conjunction with property owned by others (e.g. concrete agitator barrels, garbage compactors or trailers in control).
  • Units in pristine condition that need a customised basis of settlement.
  • Tool-of-trade units.

Here’s a list of things to watch out for:

1. Automatic addition and deletions

Be careful of conditions that require the client to notify the insurer of new vehicles within a restricted time-frame. Fleetsure provides automatic cover for additions and deletions.

2. Accessories fitted to the vehicles

Many policies only cover factory-fitted accessories or for a fixed value of after-market accessories. Many heavy vehicles are equipped with numerous high-value after-market accessories, such as bull bars, driving lights, GPS systems, platform-loading elevators and cherry pickers. Often these accessories are not listed on the schedule, but the client still expects them to be covered. Fleetsure provides automatic cover for all fitted accessories.

3. Trailer in control (non-owned trailer) liability

Many policies exclude certain trailer types (e.g. tippers, tankers, refrigerated or livestock trailers) from this automatic cover. Fleetsure policies do not exclude trailer type.

4. Third-party liability

The level of third party liability varies markedly between policies. Some can be as low as $20 million. Fleetsure provides $32.5 million in public liability cover.

5. Co-insurance or average clause (under-insurance)

Be careful when offering a policy that contains a co-insurance penalty clause. Fleetsure does not impose these old-fashioned penalties. 

6. Basis of settlement (finance payout)

Some wordings exclude first and theft losses from pay-out benefit. Fire and theft losses are usually write-offs, which is exactly when finance pay-out benefit is needed. Fleetsure policies do not have fire or theft limitations.

7. Nasty endorsements

Many on-line quotation systems automatically impose endorsements that exclude young or inexperienced drivers, especially in control of heavy vehicles. 

The conclusion is simple: make sure you are offering your clients policies that provide the best insurance and not just the best price. 

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