The problem of cargo theft is a growing one costing carriers billions of dollars each year. There are many financial problems associated with cargo theft including the loss of the trailer, the cost of stolen freight, the cost of the subsequent investigation, and the immeasurable cost of the loss of trust with a dissatisfied customer whose product or goods were stolen. Though the statistics are on the rise, there are a number of steps that you can take to prevent what could be a catastrophic loss. If you follow some simple tips you can better avoid or deter cargo theft and insure yourself adequately.
In 1999, the Department of Transportation released the Volpe report. This report stated, among other statistics, that if both the direct and indirect costs of cargo theft were included, the losses from this crime would run between $20 and $60 billion dollars per year. More recently, according to LoJack Supply Chain Integrity, the second quarter of 2009 showed a 300% increase in the number of thefts that occurred at carrier facilities and drop yards. Based on additional information reported to LoJack’s SCI Supply Chain Information Sharing and Analysis Center (SC-ISAC), vehicles and their cargo were stolen within 4 hours of being parked. Almost half of these stolen vehicles had only been parked for less than an hour.
As a commercial truck driver, it is your responsibility to take the right steps to avoid theft and carry the appropriate amount of insurance to avoid huge personal losses. Following these few simple steps can be invaluable to avoiding or deterring cargo theft. When you are hauling cargo, always lock your vehicle. Be sure to use high quality locks on the trailer especially those locks that have multiple pin tumblers, dead locks, or those with interchangeable cores. Lock the power unit and remove the keys when the vehicle is left unattended. Do not discuss your freight, its value, or its destination with anyone during transport and delivery of the shipment. This practice also includes not discussing this type of information on the radio while in transit. Consider having a planned route with scheduled stops, but also varying the route or the stops so as not to establish a “routine run.” Finally, always identify your vehicle with a prominent name and identification number.
Are you also sure that you have the appropriate insurance coverage to survive cargo theft? It is up to you to do the due diligence needed to find the right coverage. Many companies will severely limit the amount of coverage for theft. Or, they might have exclusions such as for theft when your vehicle is unattended or for unknown disappearance of cargo. You may even have limits placed on the amount an insurance company may pay for high value items such as alcohol, computers, or electronics. To obtain the best coverage, consider an insurance carrier who specializes in your business. When you negotiate a policy, require your insurance company to put all the coverage details in writing, In particular, ask the all exclusions or limits on coverage be fully detailed and explained. Ask your insurance agent to review the insurance requirements of any shipper with whom you are considering entering into a contract.
Taking a few steps ahead of time can significantly reduce your liability and loss from cargo theft. Contact your commercial trucking insurance company for more specific information.