Hauliers Liability – The importance of arranging the correct cover for your business
Simon Horton, Transportation Director at Ascend Broking takes a look at a hauliers responsibility for customers goods whilst they are in your care, custody or control.
Hauliers are liable for loss or damage to goods at Common Law unless you operate under conditions of carriage or unless a statute applies.
To carry under common law a haulage company is made strictly liable for the goods entrusted, a liability qualified only by the exceptions of act of God or the Queen’s enemies, inherent vice and fault or fraud on the part of the consignor or consignee.
The private carrier operating with no contract conditions assumes the ordinary common law liabilities of a Bailee` in that he is responsible for taking reasonable care of the goods, failing which he is liable for any resulting loss or damage, a liability limited only by the amount of the owner’s loss. If he can prove the loss to have occurred without his negligence he can escape liability but the onus resting upon him to do so is a heavy one.
Contract conditions vary considerably and are drawn up by hauliers to cover all aspects of the contract. These will normally include items in respect of completion of consignment notes, how changes are to be levied, as well as the liability of the hauliers in the event of loss or damage. Contracts may extend or restrict common law liability. This is a complex area and many hauliers rely on standard conditions drawn up by industry association, the Road Hauliers Association (RHA) being the most commonly used.
Some of your customers maybe unwilling to restrict liability to the extent of the RHA conditions. It is possible to uplift the compensation value, but as this changes the contract conditions you should advise your insurers of any specific customer uplifts. We have experience in helping you limit your legal liability and can ensure that your insurance policy mirrors any limitations or client specific uplifts that may be required.
This policy covers your legal liability as a haulier for any loss or damage to your customers goods for which you are negligent and in accordance to your trading terms and conditions. It does not provide actual cover for the goods themselves.
Your Insurers will need to know the contract conditions you trade under and if there are any specific amendments for certain customers.
If we take the RHA’s latest contract conditions, it limits your liability to £1,300 per tonne. If you agree a higher limit with your customer, then this is a material fact that needs to be advised to your Insurer.
There may be statute liabilities that can override your contract conditions for example; the CMR convention.
At Ascend we have a specialist team that has a wealth of knowledge in placing Transit insurance for haulage and courier operators with wide wording and competitive premiums. . We can provide expert advice and find the cover that suites your business. The haulage industry is complex and often diverse with firms involved in warehouse keeping, subcontracting and deep-sea freight forwarding. We can provide a solution for all your transit needs including Marine Cargo for those times that your customer requires specific cover for the goods.