According to the Department of Transportation, there are over 2.7 billion tons of hazardous materials transported each year in the United States either by truck, train, boat, or aircraft. HAZMAT is an acronym for hazardous materials. Many federal agencies, such as the Department of Transportation (DOT), the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), have regulations regarding the transportation and disposal of hazardous materials.
For those involved in transporting hazardous materials, this activity raises special risks, which is why there is a special insurance policy for the transportation of hazardous materials. Depending on what cargo you haul, these various federal agencies have different regulations regarding the transportation of hazardous materials.
Transportation of hazardous materials causes unique highway safety concerns. One of these concerns is the release of cargo that may contaminate or injure those coming in contact with the hazardous substance. These crashes may also cause fires, explosions and the release of toxic fumes. Imagine the cost of clean-up and other damages that could occur if a tanker full of hazardous materials were to explode on a busy highway. Now, try to imagine covering these costs without insurance.
What Are Hazardous Materials?
The Secretary of Transportation has defined hazardous materials as any substance that poses "an unreasonable threat to the public and the environment.” Many people recognize the most commonly known hazardous materials, but you might not recognize some types of goods as hazardous.
Here are some types of materials that are considered hazardous when transporting:
- Petroleum products
- Cleaning compounds
- Poisonous chemicals
- Flammable gases
- Soil that contains hazardous waste
Statistics and Facts Involving Trucks Carrying Hazardous Materials
If you are a company or a driver involved in the transportation of hazardous materials, there are some important facts and statistics you should pay attention to – as reported by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s Office of Information Management – further emphasizing the importance of carrying hazardous materials transportation insurance.
- For the years 2016-2018, the average number of large trucks carrying hazardous materials involved in fatal crashes was 148 annually.
- Non-fatal crashes involving large trucks carrying hazardous materials in 2018 totaled 3,913.
- Transportation of flammable liquids accounts for 54% crashes involving hazardous materials for the years 2016-2018.
Hazardous materials haulers face specific insurance requirements and must provide insurance liability usually between $1 million and $5 million, depending on the cargo. If cargo haulers are unsure of the classification of cargo, they should contact the shipper that provided the cargo or look at the definitions of hazardous materials in hazardous materials regulations under Title 49, Part 177 of the Code of Federal Regulations. Failure to comply with insurance requirements for hauling hazardous materials can result in civil penalties, as well as possible incarceration.
Your transportation of hazardous materials insurance policy can cover liability for:
- Loading and Unloading Cargo
- In-transit Coverage
- Site Pollution Clean-up Operations
- On-Going Contamination
Where to Buy HAZMAT Insurance
If you are a hauler of hazardous materials, you may wonder where you can find insurance coverage.
If your insurance agent handles commercial coverage, they will likely have a commercial market that offers HAZMAT insurance. Insurance brokers and carriers that offer a Transportation of Hazardous Materials (HAZMAT) Insurance Policy include:
Westchester Insurance is a Chubb company and offers Hazmat Transportation Coverage designed to protect waste transporters and includes pollution coverage. Coverage is available in annual policy term limits in 49 states (not available in MA). Additional coverage can be added by endorsement for the wrong delivery of liquid products, garage liability, and trailer interchange coverage.
The Hazmat Truck Insurance policy through Colonial Insurance includes pollution coverage. Discounts are available for truck dash camera systems. Safety services are also available to insureds, including a dedicated safety officer who works with the insured to reduce the frequency of claims and accidents. Coverage options include liability, uninsured motorist, physical damage cargo limit/general liability, and pollution liability.
Hazardous Materials & Hazardous Waste Haulers insurance program from Freberg Environmental is available in all states except Alaska, Massachusetts & New Jersey. Coverage options include auto liability, physical damage, excess auto, pollution, cargo, and commercial general liability. Limits of coverage are available up to $5 million.
How to Get More Information About Transporting Hazardous Materials
You can get additional information about the safe transport of hazardous materials by reviewing regulations found at the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration website, as well as other resources including data and statistics, information on incident reporting, national pipeline mapping system (NPMS), planning and analytics, forms, and more.
Other helpful resources include the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, which provides training materials for dealing with hazardous materials, as well as information booklets dealing with federal hazardous materials regulations. Top safety and registration resources for drivers include driver safety education, physical exam forms, drug/alcohol testing information, rollover prevention, information to register for a commercial driver’s license, requirements for driver medical fitness for duty, driver medical exemption notices and information about distracted driving/cell phone bans.