Repo Agent Insurance

Source: Monitor Daily

 

 

 

There are few actions that a lender takes that have more potential for legal or damage claims than a vehicle or equipment repossession.  Ensuring that your service providers have the right types and amounts of insurance coverage is critical to managing the risk.  While your contracts may be clear that the service provider indemnifies your institution in these matters, without the coverages in place, the contractual obligation may not mean much.

Unfortunately, there is no single policy that covers the full range of potential risks.  Multiple policies are required.  Understanding what types policies, key provisions and coverage amounts can be a confusing issue.  This article attempts to shed light on the matter and provide a recommended framework.

Ask any repossession agency and they will tell you that after fuel costs, insurance is their top expense . In recent years, the number of insurance companies that are even willing to write policies for repossession agencies has shrunk dramatically.  At the same time, due to the fewer number of agencies to spread the risk across, rates have grown dramatically.  Even a single claim can result in large premium increases for the agency and can jeopardize its existence.  For this reason, it is important that lenders have a clear view of what policies/coverage amounts are really necessary to mitigate the risks.  Taking a “the more, the better” attitude that some lenders have adopted in recent years is actually quite detrimental to the industry as the coverage can become prohibitively expensive and, ultimately, forces agencies out of business, thus reducing competition.

The following table summarizes the types and levels of coverage that, based on our experience as a nationwide repossession management firm, we feel are appropriate.  Note that the recommendations vary based on whether your institution works directly with repossession agencies or a repossession management firm (forwarder).

 

Coverage
Name

Description

Types
of Risks Covered

Recommended
Min. Coverage Amount

(Repo
Agency)

Workers Compensation

 

Employer’s Liability

Statutory coverage for injuries arising
in and out of the course of work.

 

Part 2 of the workers compensation
policy provides coverage for liability to employees for work-related bodily
injury or disease, other than liability imposed by a workers compensation
law.

Agent employee injured while attempting
to recover a vehicle on behalf of a lien holder. Employee may make a claim
if employer does not have workers compensation coverage

Statutory

Each
Accident – $100,000

Disease –
$100,000

Policy
Limit – $500,000

Automobile

3rd party liability for
property damage & bodily injury from the use of company owned, hired or
non-owned vehicles.

Negligence based.

Agent employee hits/damages another
vehicle while driving a company owned vehicle (i.e. tow truck) 

$1,000,000

Drive Away

3rd party liability for
property damage & bodily injury from driving a vehicle recovered pursuant
to a repossession order.

Negligence based.

Agent employee damages a repossessed
vehicle while driving it (i.e. moving it from one lot to another or moving to
another place on the lot)  

$1,000,000

Garage Keepers

1st party direct and primary
liability for vehicles damaged in your agency’s care & control.  Policy
must stipulate direct and primary coverage.

Provides a variety of coverages against
perils while on the repo agency lot if policy contains the correct wording

$350,000

On Hook

1st party liability for
damage to vehicles while being towed by your agency.

Negligence based. 

Repossessed vehicle is damaged in
transit due to not being properly secured.

$100,000

Employee Dishonesty

1st party liability coverage
for property or money in your care & custody.

 Employee embezzles money from the
Company (i.e. employee coordinates the theft of multiple cars off the agent’s
lot)

$100,000

General Liability

3rd party liability for
property damage & bodily injury from your operations.  Must
stipulate that coverage applies to wrong repossession.

Negligence based. 

Employee does not verify the bank still
needs the vehicle prior to obtaining it (wrongful repossession errors &
omissions).

$1,000,000
per occurrence

$2,000,000
aggregate

Cyber Liability

3rd party liability for
damages relating to the theft and improper use of customer data

 

 

NA

 

Following these guidelines can go a long way towards mitigating the inherent risks in the repossession process; however, some exposure remains.   For instance, some insurance companies, in an effort to reduce claims, have inserted problematic policy language/exclusions in their policies.  It takes expert review to identify these situations.

Having clear guidelines and requirements is helpful, but tracking compliance can be a challenge.  There are two basic steps that I would recommend:

  1. Ensure that the repossession agency provides an Accord certificate that identifies your institution as an additional insured.  This will help ensure that you get a notification if there are changes or lapses with the policies, and
  2. As a backstop, ask for an updated current certificate every six months.

One way to mitigate these risks is to work with a national repossession management company that assumes the responsibility and liability associated with these issues.  Instead of trying to manage these issues across multiple repossession agency relationships, you just manage one.  If anything goes wrong during the repossession process or post repossession storage, the national firm is responsible. The national firms also typically carry larger policies and much greater financial resources.

 

Source: Monitor Daily

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