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Statutory Liability Insurance - Should Transport Companies Have It?

Each year in Australia transport operators die or are injured doing their jobs.
 
To help improve the safety of drivers and their goods there are several regulators involved in a transport company’s business. Day-to-day activities of the regulators can involve education, site visits, or even on the spot fines about minor compliance problems.
 
Should a serious compliance problem or an incident occur those regulators suddenly may be looking to launch an Inquiry against your company, or even serve your business with papers to go to court.
 
And that’s when Statutory Liability insurance can really help out.
 
What sort of incidents are transport operators are going to court for, and how can Statutory Liability insurance reduce the financial burden on those companies if this occurs?

How does Statutory Liability help?

The Statutory Liability cover offered by Stand Underwriting is designed to respond to:
  1. Costs that are incurred in an Inquiry from a regulator.
  2. Costs that are incurred in defending your company in court from a regulator.
  3. Certain costs from an Enforceable Undertaking agreement.
  4. Fines or Penalty payments from those regulators, where legally allowable.
Let’s now look at those regulators; NHVR, Worksafe and EPA.
 

National Heavy Vehicle Regulator

The first regulator to consider is the “National” Heavy Vehicle Regulator (despite the name, WA and NT operate under different regulations). They are the regulator for the Heavy Vehicle National laws, which sets out guidelines for the use of heavy vehicles (think trucks, buses, mobile cranes, and agricultural equipment).
 
In 2021 alone the NHVR resolved at least 14 court cases and 7 Enforceable Undertakings for improper practices relating to heavy vehicles.
The NHVR has prosecuted for:
  • Exceeding licenced fatigue management or driving duration.
  • Managerial failure to take reasonable steps to manage or track driver fatigue.
  • Falsified work diary (including referencing camera data or GPS data).
  • Improperly secured load – with or without a load falling off.
  • Insufficient training or induction to drivers.
  • Load weight or dimensions exceeded.
  • Vehicles improperly modified.

Prosecutions were made against both companies and individuals

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Management Liability insurance is designed to provide protection to both the business and its directors or officers for claims of wrongful acts in the management of the business.

Public Liability insurance is there to provide protection if someone makes a claim against the insured, the business or its employees.


WorkSafe

While NHVR monitors driver fatigue for much of Australia, that doesn’t mean transporters are off the hook with WorkSafe. Injuries or unsafe practices off the road can quickly have WorkSafe knocking on your door.
 
WorkSafe has prosecuted for:
  • Failure to maintain vehicles at a safe level.
  • A vehicle or trailer striking someone at their workplace (such as due to a brake failure).
  • Injury sustained during loading or unloading.
  • Injury sustained from a load falling off of a parked vehicle.
  • Managerial failure to educate drivers about safe driving and driving fatigue.
  • In WA and NT, WorkSafe can also prosecute for the NHVR events outlined above.
Prosecutions were made primarily against companies, but individuals can be held accountable for their actions.
 

Environmental Protection Authorities

State and Territory EPAs are regulators that monitor pollution, waste, and the overall state of the environment. While their responsibilities and prosecution frequency can vary by location, EPAs are interested and monitor transport companies.
 
EPAs have prosecuted for:
  • Failure to use correct ‘dangerous goods’ signage and similar.
  • Failure to arrange permit or to transport hazardous waste.
  • Failure to have a Waste Transport Certificate, consignment authority or similar.
  • Pollution spill due to improperly secured load.
  • Vehicle accident caused transported goods polluting local area.
  • Falsified weighbridge information.
  • Failure to inform EPA of an event.
  • Failure to meet the conditions of an EPA licence.
  • Chemicals leaving your depots or sites through pipes, storm runoff, refuelling accidents or decommissioned machinery.
  • Petrol or oils spilling on-site from storage tanks.
  • Offensive odours being smelt at neighbouring properties.
 

Summary

Both on the road and off transporters have the risk of breaching their statutory obligations and a regulator taking the company, driver, or executives, to court.
 
Statutory Liability insurance can reduce the financial burden through early legal intervention, reimbursing Defence Costs or Inquiry Costs, and where possible also covering fines or penalties imposed by the courts. 
General Advice Warning: This advice is general and does not take into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. You should consider whether the advice is appropriate for you and your personal circumstances. Before you make any decision about whether to acquire a certain product, you should obtain and read the relevant product disclosure statement.

All information above has been provided by the author.


Adam Pile, Insurance HQ Pty Ltd, ABN 33606759228, AFSL 363610

This article originally appeared on Truck Insurance HQ and has been published here with permission.

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