You Can Save Up To 46% On Your Next Bridge Claim
What do you do when you have a bridge related claim, and what should you do? Do you know the four areas where insurance companies significantly over pay, and most don’t even realize it? Do you know the two important rules to follow to mitigate your losses?
Rail Services, Inc. is your complete resource for bridge claim services. Our dedicated staff has extensive experience working with bridges and the insurance industry. With over 25 years experience, we have the knowledge to help you from start to finish.
Continue reading to learn what you need to know to contain your losses.
Four Areas of Bridge Claim Overpayment
When there is an accident involving a commercial vehicle and a bridge, typically there are four areas of overpayment from insurance companies. An experienced adjuster knows what to look for in these areas and will help you minimize your loss exposure.
1. Paying for maintenance and pre-existing damages- Bridges are typically inspected every two years for deficiencies. Based on certain criteria, they are given ratings based on their current condition compared to the current design standards. The last report gave United States bridges a mediocre “C” rating. If you don’t know what to look for, how many times have you paid for the maintenance of these bridges?
Case Study: A DOT was demanding $274,786 for damages to a bridge. The insurance company hired an experienced bridge claim investigator who determined the actual loss was only $71,900, as most of the damages submitted were for pre-existing damages. This saved the insurance company $202,886.
2. Subsidizing the lack of funding- Currently it will take $18 billion just to maintain a “C” rating on our bridges in the United States. States only receive approximately $10.5 billion to maintain them. Who is going to pay for this $8 billion shortfall? Insurance companies are often viewed as having “deep pockets”, and losses viewed as an opportunity to play catch-up. When you do have a claim, do you know what damages you are responsible for?
3. Bridges are old and in poor condition- Bridges are typically built for a 50 year life span. Currently the average age of bridges is 43 years old. One out of three urban bridges are deficient. Twelve percent of bridges are structurally deficient and thirteen percent are functionally obsolete. What happens when you or your insured should hit one of these obsolete bridges? Are you going to pay for the bridge to be torn down and rebuilt because you didn’t know what to look for or where to look?
Case Study: A claim was made on a bridge that had been hit by a commercial vehicle. The claim was for $1,200,000 for repairs to the bridge. After an inspection and review, it was determined the bridge was actually obsolete and simply needed to be torn down. The cost to the insurance company was the cost of demolition.
4. Lack of quality in construction- Many states lack the funds to repair and maintain their current bridge inventory. As a result, corners are being cut, inexperienced contractors are hired and quality suffers. If you or one of your insureds were to hit one of these bridges, how do you know if you are paying to replace poor construction due to prior damage, or just the damage you are liable for.
Case Study: A new bridge was recently completed. After a final inspection, the report was submitted to our bridge engineer stating that there were a few minor rock pockets that needed repairs. The bridge engineer did a personal inspection and found the “minor rock pockets” were large chunks missing from the deck, requiring a complete tear-off and replacement. If your insured had hit this bridge prior to this inspection, who do you think would have paid for this deck replacement? YOU, unless you knew exactly what to look for.
It is important that when a loss occurs you have someone working for you with the right combination of insurance experience and bridge engineering knowledge to help you answer these questions.
When a claim involving a bridge occurs, many DOT’s include pre-existing damages in their demand letter to the insurance company. Often the DOT is counting on the insurance company just paying the claim due to their general lack of knowledge, the confusing bridge terminology and how complicated these claim can be. Learning the different types of bridges, loss of use formulas and the what goes into the construction of a bridge is something that takes many years of experience to understand. If a claims adjuster does not understand all of this, they can be at the mercy of the DOT.
Bridge Claims Adjusters- Expert Investigation to Mitigate Losses
Rule 1: Use An Experienced Bridge Claim Adjuster
When an accident occurs involving one of your insured’s commercial vehicles and a bridge, why leave it to anyone else besides a knowledgeable expert?
There are over 600,000 bridges in the United States and there are thousands of accidents involving bridge’s every year. Many of these bridges are structurally deficient. If one of your vehicles hits one of these deficient bridges, how do you know if you are needlessly paying pre-existing damages from prior accidents, or upgrades to current federal standards?
When one of your commercial auto’s does hit a bridge, your first step should be to call an experienced bridge claims adjuster. Give yourself the peace of mind that your settlement will be fair and accurate.
Rule 2: Make a plan and stick to it.
Many times the DOT will try to force a settlement based on the threat of litigation and undocumented claims amounts. When negotiating settlements, it is important to know your facts going in, making a plan for mitigation and then sticking to the facts and your plan.
Many claims can be settled for far less than the original amount, simply by having a knowledgeable expert working for you. We can assist in developing a course of action, documentation required and negotiating a fair settlement.