By Deborah Graves, OOIDA Insurance Department
Let’s talk about downtime insurance coverage … specifically, why some truck drivers find it’s like pulling teeth to get paid for it when they have a claim.
First, here’s a definition: “Downtime insurance will indemnify the Insured following a collectible loss to a covered automobile under Automobile Physical Damage but only for such period of time that the covered automobile is inoperable thus rendering the Insured incapable of utilizing said covered automobile or any replacement thereof.”
If you’re a truck driver with downtime coverage from your insurance provider, you are probably already aware that your policy has a specific limit that includes a maximum. Therefore, when you file a claim, you’ll have written evidence of coverage limits and conditions for payment. If you have read over the policy and consulted your agent on any coverage questions, you shouldn’t experience any unpleasant surprises when it comes to being paid for your downtime.
Unfortunately, the same is not necessarily true when you get hit by an at-fault driver who causes damage to your truck, resulting in downtime for repairs and loss of income for you.
Although the at-fault driver’s liability insurance provider is responsible, some truck drivers have told us it’s not so easy to collect for their downtime loss.
On the one hand, the trucker is losing money because their truck is damaged. Bills are piling up that would normally be paid if only they could get on the road again.
On the other hand, the adjuster wants to keep as much money for the insurance company as they can — so whether or not they hand over a check for downtime will likely depend upon whether the trucker can prove their loss(es).
Can the trucker show proof their loss of income is as much as they claim? Sometimes, unreasonable expectations hinder the payment of downtime. You must be willing and able to prove your loss; the insurance company will deny your claim if you can’t. Because of the speculative nature of trucking, proving loss of business income is no easy task.
Remember that you must back up your calculations with the necessary documents, such as tax returns, accountant statements, settlement sheets, profit and loss reports, etc.
The bottom line is that you can be successful at collecting payment for your downtime after a loss. It likely won’t be easy, so you’ll need perseverance. Be realistic with your settlement expectations, and be prepared to provide proof of loss documentation. It certainly wouldn’t hurt to sharpen your negotiating skills as well.
You can reach an OOIDA truck insurance agent Monday through Friday, from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. CST, at 800-715- 9369.
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