Fleet Insurance Tips - How To Prevent Cargo Theft

Fleet Insurance Tips - How To Prevent Cargo Theft

Whether you are a logistics, retail or manufacturing business, chances are you will need to deliver goods or supplies using your vans, lorries or HGV’s. 

Unfortunately, theft of your goods (or cargo as the insurance industry describes it) represents a significant threat to your business, not only in terms of the value of load, but also in associated lost business and profits from unfulfilled deliveries and orders.

A standard commercial vehicle or Motor Fleet Insurance policy will not normally extend to cover items carried, which is why it is advisable to arrange specialist Goods In Transit Insurance or Cargo cover.

Why Are Vehicles Targeted?

Marketers love to use vehicle livery to raise brand awareness and promote products, but this in itself highlights the nature of the goods likely to be carried and can act as a beacon to criminals.

As goods are generally transported at the end of the manufacturing process, packaged and ready for consumption, goods are most vulnerable to theft during transit.

How Big Is The Problem?

The last available data from the Commercial Victimisation Survey (CVS), published by the UK Home Office in January 2013 reported 26,000 thefts from freight vehicles and 2,000 thefts of the vehicle itself during 2012.

Almost 70% of the reported incidents related to thefts from a trailer unit, with fifty percent of these from unsecured parking areas.

Is There A Geographic Bias?

Geographically, the CVS data makes interesting reading, although this may simply relate to areas with the most motorway and remote service stop areas.

The East of England reported the most cargo theft in 2012 with 25% of all thefts coming in this area, closely followed by the West Midlands (20%).   The South East and Greater London shared third spot at 17% each, with the North of England reporting the lowest number of incidents.

Preventing Cargo Theft 

Goods and cargo theft prevention largely relies on drivers to act responsibly and follow proper safety precautions while on the road with a shipment. By instilling some basic work practices you can help ensure that your load will be delivered safely to its final destination.

Route Planning

Drivers and businesses should plan routes carefully. If you transport the same type of goods to the same locations frequently, make sure to switch up the routes you take. Using the same route and stopping in the same locations can make your vehicles an easy target for thieves.

Driver Awareness 

Simply increasing driver presence around a load can sometimes be enough to deter thieves, as opportunists are generally looking for a quick and easy target. The less time a van or lorry is unattended, the better. If the vehicle is manned by two employees, one should always stay with the lorry during stops.

Vehicle Security

It might sound obvious, but locks and physical barriers are still some of the best ways to prevent theft. Make sure you aggressively implement anti-theft features such as king pin locks, locking bars and air break locks.

Driver Discretion

Ensure that all drivers are trained to act with complete discretion, never discussing the contents of the load on the radio, or at a truck stop, or even on social media. Statistics show thieves target specific goods over others so it’s best not to alert them to your cargo’s potential value.

Driver and Vehicle Management

Make sure you monitor vehicles and drivers effectively, whether it’s using a more sophisticated GPS tracking system of simple using route planning software and regular contact with the driver.

If someone appears wrong or you don’t hear from your driver at the scheduled time, you will know to evoke your disaster plan and contact the authorities. 

If Drivers Are Targeted By Thieves

As a business owner or fleet manager, you have a duty of care to provide a safe working environment for your employees.  Drivers should be adequately trained in dealing with hold-up or theft situations to minimize risk. 

Should a driver suffer injury following a theft or attempted theft, they could hold you responsible and you could find yourself on the end of a significant compensation claim under your employers liability insurance.

The following tips may help drivers who are targeted:

  • Always co-operate – never challenge a criminal as it may put the driver at risk
  • Stay calm and comply with requests without sudden movements
  • Concentrate on remembering as many details as possible, such as descriptions of perpetrators and their vehicles
  • Provide police and emergency contact information within the vehicle and on company mobile phones

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About the Author

Jon Norman

I’m passionate about family, sport, technology and business.

In fact, I have always been fascinated by business, whether it was running the school tuck-shop or my Saturday job in the local store, I was always looking for ways to improve or view things differently.

I have enjoyed an amazing career fast approaching 25 years in the insurance industry, which has given me real insight into the challenges and opportunities faced by SME businesses in today’s ever-evolving marketplace.

I co-founded Insync Insurance, to offer companies a new way to buy and manage their business insurance. A synergy of digital servicing and personal expertise - utilising the latest technology to enhance relationships, not to replace them.