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Happy Thursday to You, Dear Reader,

     I know it has been quite some time since my last post here in the sacred forums (about 6 months actually), and it is Thursday, not Tuesday, and that you have probably wondered where I had been, and for all of that I am heartfully sorry.  I have left you high and dry without my weekly educational and witty insurance writings, and I am sure you are worse for the wear for it.  The reasoning for my lack of activity here is simply due to the ongoing work/life dichotomy.  I have been extremely busy within the insurance-verse, family needs, etc.  However, I have been here, and I will continue to be here and thank you to all the distillers that have reached out to me in the last several months for their insurance needs.

     With that, let us get to today’s topic that has been at the top of my mind for many months now.  That topic is Auto Coverage.  I know that I have written about the various types of auto coverage here on the forums in the past, but recently there was a situation that brought this back to the forefront in my mind.

     I have a distillery that I have worked with for the last several years.  Over that time many things have changed, grown, ebbed and flowed, and the need to keep their insurance up to date has been of the utmost importance.  A while back they decided to not only start doing some of their own delivery by use of employee vehicles, but also purchased an auto in the name of the company as well.  They called me and asked about the insurance implications to which I filled them in on all of the various needs and coverages.  We implemented a commercial auto policy for the owned auto and made sure to have the “hired and non-owned auto” endorsement added for employees using their own personal vehicles for delivery.  THANK OUR LUCKY STARS WE DID!!! 

     I must pause here and stress the importance of communication with your insurance agent here.  I have had distilleries in the past that had people out delivering product in their own vehicles, and I had no idea that they were self-distributing.  Although I almost always make sure to add on the hired and non-owned auto endorsement, there are some carriers that do not offer it.  Had I not casually brought this up to them, they would have had folks out running around uncovered.  Same goes with any changes you make at your distillery.  If you bring in totes of product, make sure you know they are covered for value.  Add equipment?  Make a call and find out if it is covered.  Now, I am not saying get crazy and call for each and every little thing.  A $500 laptop may or may not be worth a phone call, but all “bigger ticket” items, or changes … make the call.  If you add a tasting room that you didn’t have before, for sure you need to communicate that.

     Anyway, back to the story at hand.  We added the commercial vehicle and hired and non-owned coverage.  About 4 weeks later, one of the employees loaded up his pickup truck to go and deliver 20 cases of product to a local vendor.  In doing so, he was involved in a 5-vehicle accident due to some numbskull that was speeding and weaving in and out of traffic.  The employee had to jam on his breaks and swerve to avoid the aforementioned numbskull which inadvertently caused him to slam into the back side panel of another vehicle at an intersection which then caused both of them to slam into another vehicle at the cross street.  Mr. Numbskull also ended up crashing into a vehicle on the other side of the intersection and thankfully no one was severely injured and there were several witnesses that attested to the fact that the Numbskull was the proximate cause of all of the damage.

     As you can imagine, my insured’s employee still shared some of the responsibility as he swerved to avoid the Numbskull and did cause some damage.  This is the moment that the whole thing turned from an accident caused by some moron to a much bigger deal.  Normally, the police would have collected everyone’s information, maybe issued a citation, and moved on.  However, the pickup my insured’s employee was driving was full of product.  So now we have an open bed pickup where the product is clearly visible in branded boxes, there are “XYZ” distillery boxes strewn about the intersection, and broken bottles leaking booze everywhere … a moment of silence for the lost bottles please …

     That is when it turned from just another auto accident into a “Hey, what are you doing with so much booze in your vehicle?” moment.  The employee honestly stated that he was out on a delivery for “XYZ” distillery which means that everyone that he was involved in the incident immediately thought, “YYYEEEEE-HAAWWWW!!!!  PAY DAY!!!!  A distillery employee hit me, hurt me and damaged my vehicle, and THOSE GUYS HAVE TONS OF MONEY!!!!”  As we all know, that is what people think, that distilleries basically print their own money.  In reality, we all know that is more fiction than fact for many.  Anyway, as you can imagine, the distillery started getting notices that they were being sued by several individuals that were involved in the accident.  They went after the employee personally under his individual auto insurance, but then came after the distillery as well, since more and deeper pockets are the only thing lawyers are interested in.

     Due to the fact that we had the appropriate coverage in place, we knew that “XYZ” distillery had $1,000,000 worth of hired and non-owned automobile liability and should be safe.  Had we not had this coverage in place, the distillery would have been opened up to these lawsuits with no protection and been solely on the hook for any resulting court awards.  Super scary, as most of us don’t have an extra $1,000,000 just laying around for rainy days. 

     The point of all of this is, communicate with your insurance agent.  There are no dumb calls, or dumb questions, but if your agent does not know what you are up to, THEY DON’T KNOW WHAT YOU ARE UP TO!  If a claim happens, that is not the time to call and find out that discussions never happened and you don’t have coverage for something as simple as an auto accident.

     With that, I am off to work my insurance superhero powers for those of you who have contacted me, that I work with, and getting ready for the calls, emails, and texts from all of those out there that this will spur thoughts for that think, “OH NO, did I mention this to InsuranceMan 2.0!!! ????”  I can see the future dear readers, it is a skill, after all, I am a superhero.  Until Next Time Dear Reader …

 

Stay Vigilant,

 

Aaron Linden

a.k.a. InsuranceMan 2.0!!!

307-752-5961

aaron@roaringforkins.com       or       insuranceman2.0@yahoo.com

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