When an accident occurs while loading or unloading a commercial vehicle, you need to know where to make the claim. Is it going to be covered by your business auto policy or your commercial general liability policy? If the same insurance company writes both policies, it becomes a matter for that insurer to resolve internally. However, when the policies’ insurers are different, you may end up with the dual disclaimer predicament.
In most cases, the two policies provide sufficient guidance to determine coverage. These standard policies have complementary provisions that assign coverage to the BAP policy when moved from the place where property is accepted by the insured for movement to the place where it is finally delivered by the insured. The CGL policy responds to loss occurring prior to acceptance and after delivery. In addition, the CGL policy covers the movement of property by means of a mechanical device, other than a hand truck, that is not attached to the auto.
Unfortunately, New York state has disapproved these pertinent provisions in the two policies. Instead, policyholders are relegated to interpreting the statutory meaning of “use and operation” as it pertains to loading and unloading through adjudication. Loading and unloading has been interpreted to mean “not only the immediate transference of the goods to or from the vehicle, but the ‘complete operation’ of transporting the goods between the vehicle and the place from or to which they are being delivered.” In most cases, the New York interpretation of “use and operation” through case law will achieve the same result as the interpretation of the standard policy provisions that the state omitted.
A claim for loading and unloading losses should be reported under both policies to ensure that contract conditions have been met. If both policies are covered by the same insurer, no problem. If not, don’t hesitate to enlist our agency’s assistance in helping to sort things out with the insurers.