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Hotshots: Don't Let Downtime Burn Your Business

Hey Hotshots! Don't Let Downtime Burn Your Business

By Kelsea Eckert
Posted Jun 20th 2024 7:00AM

It was a typical early morning for Jack, a hotshot trucker, as he transported a classic car across Texas in his Ford F-450. Out of nowhere, a reckless motorcycle driver swerved into Jack’s lane, forcing him to brake hard. Despite his best efforts to avoid a collision, Jack's truck and trailer collided with the motorcycle, and skidded off the road, resulting in significant damage to his rig.

Thankfully, the motorcyclist and Jack were unharmed, but Jack was stranded with a bent front axle and a damaged trailer hitch. This incident not only disrupted his schedule but also sidelined his truck, his primary source of income. Hotshot trucking is a demanding and unpredictable profession, requiring resilience and adaptability, as well as expedited delivery of smaller loads.

Understanding Downtime Claims

In the trucking world, downtime claims are akin to business interruption claims for brick-and-mortar establishments. When a business suffers damage, it can claim not only for repairs, but also for lost income during the downtime. Similarly, hotshot trucks, being mobile businesses, have a right to downtime compensation when they're out of commission due to an accident that wasn’t their fault.

However, many insurance companies don’t fully understand this concept. Adjusters often treat trucks like cars. They overlook the specialized nature of hotshot trucking equipment like hotshot trailers, tie-down equipment, and transport chains, and also overlook the difficulty of renting temporary replacements.

The Claims Process

Filing a downtime claim is a complex and often frustrating process. Here’s how Jack navigated it:

Document Everything:

Jack started by meticulously documenting the accident and the resulting damage. He took photos of his truck and trailer, recorded the accident scene, and kept detailed notes on the incident.

Notify the Insurance Companies:

He immediately contacted both his insurance company and the insurance company of the motorcyclist. He filed a claim for the physical damage and initiated the downtime claim process.

Gather Support:

Recognizing the complexities involved, Jack consulted his insurance agent, accountant, and attorney. This team helped him navigate the paperwork and advocate for his claim.

Estimate Downtime Losses:

Jack provided detailed records of his income, including past earnings and projected losses. This information was crucial in substantiating his claim for downtime compensation.

Be Persistent:

Jack had to persistently follow up with the insurance adjusters, who were initially hesitant to acknowledge the validity of his downtime claim. He educated them on the realities of hotshot trucking and the significant impact of downtime on his business.

Stay Professional:

Throughout the process, Jack remained professional, avoiding emotional confrontations. He understood that the adjuster represented the other party and focused on presenting a strong, fact-based case.

Rental Challenges

One of the biggest challenges Jack faced was the idea that trucks are easily replaceable. In reality, finding a temporary replacement for a specialized truck and trailer is nearly impossible in today’s market. Many motor carriers also prohibit drivers from renting equipment due to insurance and contractual obligations.

Despite these hurdles, Jack’s thorough documentation, persistence, and the support of his team eventually paid off. He was sure to get everything in writing, including proof that there was no rental equipment available to him. After several weeks of negotiations, he successfully secured downtime compensation, covering his lost income and helping with repair costs.

Hotshots, Stay Prepared

Jack’s experience highlights the importance of understanding the insurance claims process and being prepared for the unexpected. For hotshot truckers, downtime claims are vital in mitigating financial losses when their rigs are out of service. By staying informed, seeking professional advice, and maintaining a detailed record of all transactions, hotshot truckers can navigate the claims process more effectively and ensure their businesses remain out on the open road. Do you want to know if you have a case? Contact Eckert & Associates, P.A. at (904) 278-788 or