Limiting Liability When Choosing a Messenger Service


Limiting Liability When Choosing a Messenger Service

What characteristics should you look for when choosing a messenger service? Unless you work in the transportation industry, you may be out of your element-and as every savvy entrepreneur knows, making business decisions without total knowledge of the service puts your enterprise at risk. The fact is that virtually every messenger service will do a superb job of getting your delivery to its destination, but package delivery is so much more than simply driving somewhere with a shipment in hand. So what does matter?

Safety matters. Does the service you choose have a valid Motor Carrier number? With a quick search of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration site, you can validate the messenger service’s MC number and easily cross reference their Dept. of Transportation safety rating. The last thing you want to do is tender your shipment to an unqualified company. Trusting an unqualified company with your cargo is like jumping in to a taxi driven by someone without a license.

But even for the safest of messenger services, things do go wrong. Does your messenger service have insurance? Most companies have just enough liability insurance, but very few keep a worker’s compensation policy for its drivers and contractors; instead, many companies will purchase ‘work accident’ insurance to create the illusion of coverage, in some states, work accident insurance does not protect the shipper or consignee if the contractors gets injured on the customer’s site. Most services will try to show you a worker’s comp policy that covers their employees, but not the people making the deliveries. What does this mean for you? Liability exposure

For instance, say that you hire a local contractor to paint your house. He provides you a great rate because he’s a local small business. If he falls off the ladder while painting your house, and he does not have a worker’s compensation policy, your homeowners policy is liable to pay for his medical expenses. The situation is the same when hiring a messenger service; do your research ahead of time to limit your liability.

Regulations, safety, and insurance are common topics that businesses often forget to ask about when searching for a messenger service, instead looking only to price, service levels, and security.

So let’s talk about price. You’ll find that the cheapest services may not be your best option. In order to cut costs, they cut corners, hiring unqualified contractors, forgoing necessary insurance coverage, refusing to invest in the ‘intangibles’ that make for a quality business. It’s like the old saying goes: “You get what you pay for.”

Always do your own research, but also check references when choosing a service. Customers who have had exceptionally positive or negative experiences with the company will find a forum to express them.

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