MA commercial truckers take note: New requirement to carry US DOT number in September


delivery trucks and vans

If you are a Massachusetts commercial trucker engaged in intrastate commerce take note: Effective September 1, 2018, you must obtain and display a US DOT number for designated vehicles. The number must be obtained and filed with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and made visible on vehicle markings by that date, as per 540 CMR 2.22, the Commercial Marking section of the Registry of Motor Vehicles regulations.

According to State Police, “failure to obtain and display a USDOT number on your vehicles may result in a civil fine and/or placing your CMVs Out of Service until such time as your company obtains a USDOT Number.”

What MA commercial vehicles does this affect?

According to the MA Association of Insurance Agents, “The changes could affect customers that are written on a Massachusetts Auto Policy class 30 such as plumbers, carpenters, electrician, etc.”

The MA Department of Public Utilities Transportation Oversight says that affected vehicles include those that are:

  • Engaged in intrastate commerce having a gross vehicle weight rating or gross combination weight rating of 10,001 or more pounds; or
  • Used in the transportation of hazardous materials in a quantity requiring placarding; or
  • Designed to transport more than 15 passengers including the driver, used in intrastate commerce in Massachusetts.

Note: Intrastate operation means you conduct business solely within Massachusetts.

How do you obtain a US DOT number?

According to the MA State Police, to obtain a USDOT, go to the FMSCA website. Follow links to obtain an intrastate USDOT number. Your company will be issued a USDOT number that must be displayed on all CMVs that your company operates, including leased vehicles. There is no charge to obtain this number from the USDOT-FMCSA.

What are the new rules about DOT markings?

For guidance on displaying the DOT number on your vehicles, see:

 

The basics Business Insurance: What you need to know to manage your risk


managing riskAny new or existing business needs to factor the costs of business insurance into the planning process – it’s a vital mechanism for managing risks and planning for adversity. Some coverages are optional while others, like workers’ comp, are mandated by law.

There’s a great primer on business insurance that appeared in the Boston Globe this week, sponsored by Rockland Trust and written by Wayne Taylor: First rule of insurance: don’t run the risk of being unprotected. Taylor notes: “For a small or medium-sized business, not being protected for uncovered losses could mean the difference between survival and failure.”

The article offers a good overview of business insurance basics, as well as coverages that are unique to specific industries.

We’re delighted that the article includes commentary from one of our Renaissance Alliance members:

“Many small businesses have a unique set of risk exposures that larger businesses don’t always have,” said W. Jeffrey Helm, president and founder of Atlantic Advisors Insurance Agency, Inc., in Norwell. “Often the small business owner is the one who is emptying the waste baskets and booting up the computers in the morning, as well as making sales calls and strategic operating decisions.

“What happens if this key player gets injured or falls ill? The company may not yet have a lot of savings in the bank, nor access to a large line of credit. Having disability coverage, for example, or business overhead expense insurance can help provide a temporary income stream so that the business continues to operate and meet its financial obligations.”

The article suggest brushing up on “the language of insurance” and finding professional guidance. Here are two excellent resources learning more about insurance.

As for a business insurance advisor – if your business is in New England, you can’t do better than a Renaissance Alliance independent insurance agency member – fine one near you!

Insurance & the Academy Awards


movie film reel and popcornWhile insurance doesn’t feature too prominently in any of this year’s Academy Award nominees, Tom Hanks does star as an insurance lawyer in Bridge of Spies. There’s a lot of competition this year so although it’s nominated in several categories, it isn’t heavily favorited on most critics’ lists.

Even when insurance doesn’t play prominently in the script, it is a vital behind-the-scenes component of any film. The Insurance Information Institute weighs in with The Role Insurance Plays in Movies. You can also see our prior post on Behind the scenes: the film industry is risky business. Speaking of risk, one film that elicited a fair amount of criticism: ‘Revenant’ Shoot Didn’t Take Crew’s Safety Issues “Seriously,” Says Union Rep. Actor and crew safety has been on the minds of many since the 2014 – see: Death on a Georgia Railroad Trestle Sparking Calls for Safety Reforms in Hollywood.

Insurance & the Movies

If you just can’t get enough of insurance-themed films, here are some suggestions:

And for those of you who’d like a deeper diver into the behind-the-scenes business of insurance, risk management & the movies, here’s a reading list:

Security cameras turn the tables on taco thieves


If you skipped stories about robberies in California over the holidays, you probably missed a hilarious video showing how a Los Angeles area Taco shop is biting back at crime. It all started with a late-night break in at Frijoles & Frescas restaurant on December 16. Thieves threw a rock through the window to break in, ransack the place and make off with the registers. This was all depicted on security camera videos.

Clever owners Alberto and Francisco used this footage to create the following clip which has racked up more than 4 million views. See for yourself why it went viral.

It’s satisfying that they mocked the burglars while doing a fun self-promo, and it’s also a clever way to get the thieves’ images out in public. The perpetrators haven’t been found yet, but here’s hoping. Meanwhile, reports say that Frijoles & Frescas is seeing increased demand for their tacos!

Small food service shops and retailers like Frijoles & Frescas are generally covered for theft and robberies under BOP insurance or Business Owners Policies. But security cameras are a good idea, too – they help to deter crime and in the event that a crime does occur, can provide valuable information to help track down the criminals.

Here are a few resources to learn more about business security cams.

How to Deploy IP Cameras in Your Small Business

Setting Up a Security System For Your Small Business

Don’t let a valuable collection go up in smoke: Talk to your agent about insurance


Comic book big explosionAre you a collector? If you’ve amassed a significant collection, you may want to have its value appraised and consider adding specialty coverage or an endorsement to your homeowners insurance policy. Whether your collection is fine antiques, stamps, musical instruments, vintage costume jewelry or comic books, it can amass in value. You should talk over your collection with your insurance agent and see if it makes sense to protect your investment.

Take comic books. Vintage comics that were bought for mere pennies in the last century are now valued in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. A few prized comic editions have even reached into the millions at auctions.

This PropertyCasualty360 video is a case in point. Shawn Moynihan interviews Vincent Zurzolo, COO and co-founder of Metropolis Collectibles, a large and respected rare comic book dealer. It’s interesting from several perspectives: as a business case study of a fascinating niche business, as a discussion of commercial risk management, and also in the lessons it offers to personal hobbyists and collectors about protecting investments.

Zurzola shares interesting information about Metropolis Collectibles’ huge comics collection and the risk management steps they take for protection. He also has a few words for personal collectors. He says that just the way you protect the investment in your home or car by having insurance, you should protect your valuable collections too. He says, “… collectors feel like they are insured through their homeowners insurance policies sometimes they are and sometimes they’re not and finding out when its too too late is a tragedy.” He shares a cautionary story about an uninsured client who lost a valuable collection in Hurricane Sandy. He also notes that because collectibles frequently increase and decrease in value, it’s a good idea to do an annual review every year when insurance policies are up for review. He suggests that if you can’t evaluate your collection yourself, seek the help of an expert.