Casualties happen—even though a company may take extraordinary steps to avoid them. When they do, having the right procedures and an experienced team in place to address them is critical to setting things right again.
First and foremost, it is urgent that all parties involved in an accident coordinate with the proper authorities and take immediate actions to limit the loss of life and property.
Typically, a rail casualty will involve multiple parties -- a railroad, a shipper, a railcar owner or lessee, a transloader, vendors such as signal or track maintenance providers, and other potential third-parties. Sorting out what the contracts among those parties say about their respective responsibilities is a good place to start. It also highlights that the foundation for good claims management should be in place long before the claim or the incident that caused it occurs.
Next, the insurance broker plays an important role in advocating for the insured by working with the insurance adjuster, says Kevin Woods, national director of the rail practice for insurance broker Arthur J. Gallagher Risk Management Services. “Hopefully, you have insurance coverage and an adjuster who understands this kind of risk. If the underwriter just dabbles in rail policies, they can be clueless when it comes to this kind of claim.” He says the broker should be able to provide claims advocates experienced in rail casualties who understand the policy. If there are legal disputes, the legal team should also have specialized rail knowledge.
Having the right team is essential to getting claims paid in a timely manner in accordance with the terms of the insurance policy.