Maximizing Efficiency and Security

The Value of End-to-End Freight Execution Software for Freight Brokers.

By Banyan Technology

Investing in end-to-end enterprise freight execution software represents a pivotal decision for freight brokers, one that can dramatically reshape the landscape of their operations, client satisfaction and bottom line. This comprehensive approach to managing freight operations not only streamlines the brokerage process but also provides a competitive edge in an industry where efficiency, reliability and speed are paramount.

The Need for End-to-End Solutions in Freight Brokerage

The freight brokerage industry is the vital link between shippers needing to transport goods and carriers willing to haul those goods. However, the process of matching shipments with the right carriers, ensuring compliance, tracking shipments and managing payments can be complex and time-consuming when done manually or with disjointed systems. An end-to-end enterprise freight execution software simplifies these tasks by providing a single, integrated platform for all freight brokerage operations.

Streamlined Operations and Increased Efficiency

One of the most significant advantages of utilizing end-to-end software is the streamlining of operations. By automating routine tasks such as carrier selection, shipment tracking and invoice processing, brokers can save a considerable amount of time and reduce the risk of human error. This efficiency gain not only boosts productivity but also allows brokers to focus on more strategic tasks, such as building relationships with clients and carriers and exploring new market opportunities.

Enhanced Visibility and Control

End-to-end freight execution software offers unparalleled visibility into the entire shipping process. Brokers can track shipments in real-time, anticipate and address potential issues before they escalate and provide clients with timely updates. This level of oversight and control enhances the service quality provided to shippers and carriers, leading to increased satisfaction and loyalty.

Mitigating Fraud in Logistics

End-to-end enterprise freight execution software plays a pivotal role in mitigating fraud within the logistics and freight brokerage industry, a sector where the complexity of transactions and the involvement of multiple parties create fertile ground for fraudulent activities such as identity theft, invoice fraud and double brokering. The software enhances security through rigorous verification processes for carriers and shippers, integrating with databases and systems to confirm the legitimacy of all parties involved. Secure transaction and documentation management, with features like digital signatures and encryption, ensures the integrity of vital documents, reducing the risk of tampering and fraud. Additionally, the software’s advanced analytics and machine learning capabilities are instrumental in detecting anomalies and patterns indicative of fraudulent activity, with automated alerts enabling prompt investigation and resolution.

Data-Driven Decision Making

The analytics capabilities of comprehensive freight software are a game-changer for brokers. By collecting and analyzing data on carrier performance, shipping trends and customer preferences, brokers can make informed decisions that improve service quality and operational efficiency. This data-driven approach can also identify new business opportunities and areas for cost reduction.

Improved Compliance and Risk Management

Compliance with industry regulations and standards is a critical concern for freight brokers. End-to-end software helps ensure compliance by automating the documentation process and maintaining a digital record of all transactions. This not only simplifies audits but also reduces the risk of fines and legal issues. Moreover, the software can help manage risk by assessing carrier qualifications and monitoring carrier performance, ensuring that only reliable carriers are used. It also can facilitate the tracking of carbon emissions for each shipment, aiding brokers and their customers in meeting environmental regulations and sustainability goals.

Scalability and Flexibility

As a freight brokerage grows, its operational needs become more complex. End-to-end software is designed to scale with the business, accommodating increased volumes of shipments and transactions without a drop in performance. Additionally, the best software solutions offer flexibility to adapt to the unique needs of the brokerage, whether through customizable workflows, integration with other business systems or the addition of new features and capabilities.

Enhanced Collaboration and Communication

Effective communication is vital in the freight brokerage industry, involving multiple stakeholders, including shippers, carriers, and logistics partners. End-to-end software facilitates seamless communication and collaboration through features such as shared dashboards, messaging platforms and document sharing. This ensures that all parties are on the same page and can respond quickly to any changes or challenges.

Cost Savings and ROI

While the upfront cost of implementing end-to-end enterprise freight execution software may be significant, the long-term savings and return on investment are substantial. Automation and improved efficiency reduce operational costs, while enhanced service quality can lead to increased business and revenue. Additionally, the ability to make data-driven decisions and identify cost-saving opportunities further improves the financial performance of the brokerage.

For freight brokers, investing in end-to-end enterprise freight execution software is not just a technological upgrade but a strategic business decision that can lead to unparalleled operational efficiency, enhanced service quality, and significant growth. The benefits of streamlined operations, increased visibility, data-driven decision-making, improved compliance, scalability, enhanced collaboration and cost savings make it an investment worth considering. In the fast-paced world of freight brokerage, the right software solution can be the key to staying ahead of the competition and achieving long-term success.

About Banyan Technology

Banyan Technology, the leading provider of over-the-road (OTR) shipping software, delivers enterprise-level, end-to-end freight execution solutions. Our patented LIVE Connect® platform serves as your primary transportation management system (TMS) or API connectivity that supports your existing systems. Banyan’s solution provides a comprehensive suite of AI and BI tools that help automate manual shipping processes and identify cost-saving opportunities through multi-mode rate comparison. To learn more, visit www.banyantechnology.com or connect with us on LinkedInFacebook, and Twitter.

 

The key questions of produce season: When, how, and how much?

by Chris Eudy

In certain parts of the country, the grass is starting to turn green, and buds are beginning to appear on the trees. Spring will soon be upon us, and with it, the produce season. Tomatoes, strawberries, and other fruits and vegetables are set to make their way from the Southeast and California to the rest of the country. Produce season, as it always does, will have a tremendous impact on reefer volume, capacity across the board, and pricing.

Brokers across the country are asking: When will produce season hit (and where)? How will this impact capacity? How much will prices go up as a result of diminished capacity?

When

While DAT doesn’t have a crystal ball, we do have the next best thing: industry experts Dean Croke and Ken Adamo. Produce season can, and often does, start anytime between mid-March and April at various points across the southeast and California (but that is a huge window to try to plan around).

Ken and Dean host a weekly market update show, DAT iQ Live, that discusses the impact of major events, like produce season, on the market. Their latest show can be found here.

One of the challenges with produce season is the weather. It can have a huge impact on the viability of crops and how many make it out of a certain region of the country. For example, tomato and strawberry season is set to begin in southern Florida. Those volumes are currently down over 30%. When do we expect those volumes to increase and begin moving northward along their traditional route? Stay tuned to our market updates for more information.

How

Now we have to ask the question of how the produce season impacts the freight market and expected supply and demand (which will no doubt have a downstream impact on price).

Going back to the example of Southern Florida produce, typically that means tightening capacity for reefer and dry vans out of Florida. The reason van capacity also tightens is because sometimes, when reefers aren’t shipping refrigerated goods, they ship non-refrigerated goods and act as extra capacity to the dry van space. The table below shows DAT’s MCI index for southern Florida.

The MCI index scores market tightness or looseness on a -100 to +100 scale (with +100 representing an extremely tight market). Market tightness associated with produce season typically means linehaul costs go up as it’s harder to find capacity.

 

How much

Finally, the million-dollar question: How much does the produce season impact the cost of freight on a given lane? The answer is, potentially, a lot.

Below are snapshots from DAT’s RateView and Ratecast tools. Both are looking at reefer spot freight from Lakeland, Florida to Atlanta, Georgia. Historically, starting in March, freight out of Lakeland begins to increase until it crescendos in May. Booked rates increased from an average of $800 to $1,200 (that’s an increase of 50%!)  in 2023. This year, we are projecting a similar spike but with a peak average of $1,038. As you plan out your RFP strategy and calculate your margins, this $162 difference can be the difference between making or losing money.

While planning for the produce season can seem like a daunting task, DAT is here to help.  Please reach out to your customer success representative or account manager today for any questions you have or support you may need.

Not sure where to start? Try these resources.

Pricing 101 

New to the market and looking to win produce freight? Check out our Pricing 101 guide to understand the ins and outs of pricing to win new business and expand your area of expertise.

Marketing 101

Keeping shippers and carriers informed of your brokerage’s services is the key to growing your business. In our Marketing 101 guide, learn more about how to get in front of the right audiences and keep your business top of mind during produce season.

Weekly updates

Stay up to date with market trends and where freight rates are trending. Join our DAT experts, Ken Adamo and Dean Croke, weekly on DAT iQ Live or check out DAT’s Trendlines to have the most updated information available to drive your freight decision making.

Additional resources

4 Important Cash Accounts for T&L Businesses

Content Provided by: Dan Rutherford, Virtual CFO Summit Virtual CFO Services by Anders

A solid amount of cash on hand will help protect your business against unexpected disruptions, but don’t stop there. You need different cash accounts for different for different purposes, and we recommend keeping them in separate accounts so that you always know what you have:

  • Operating cash (for paying bills)
  • Cash reserves (cash-on-hand)
  • Tax reserves (for Uncle Sam)
  • Line of credit (for emergencies)

Here’s why you need each:

Operating Cash: Paying Bills on Time

For your Operating Cash account, you move money from where you receive revenue from Accounts Payable into your account for Operating Cash, no math required.

Your business will suffer if you’re not taking care of operating costs. But you need to pay for those costs from a separate account so you can understand them and any major swings.

Cash Reserves: How Much Cash on Hand Do You Need?

You can be generating significant profits and still go out of business if you’re burning through your cash blindly.

Rather than follow the common rule-of-thumb of keeping two months’ worth of expenses (since that number can change), keep 10% to 30% of your net income on hand.

You’re good to keep just 10% if your business has…

  • High recurring revenue
  • A strong pipeline
  • Zero or low Accounts Receivable (AR) days
  • A strong mixture of clients
  • No single client that accounts for more than 10% of your revenue

However, if the opposite is true (e.g., low recurring revenue, a single client accounting for much or your revenue, and high AR days), you need to try to reach the higher end. You won’t create your reserve overnight, but you want to start building up as soon as possible.

Tax Reserves: How Much Do I Need to Put Away for Uncle Sam?

Nobody enjoys paying taxes, but the last thing you want is to come up short during tax season.

A separate cash account for taxes can also help you avoid shocks to your business by writing huge checks (and added penalties).

Your tax reserve should be 40% of your company’s net income before taxes. You may pay less, but better safe than sorry.

Your estimated taxes are based on your previous years’ income statements, divided by 4. Even if your business is brand new with no previous income history, you still need to pay those estimated quarterly taxes to avoid potential penalties.

Line of Credit: Cash When You Need It Most

A line of credit can feel like a loan, and this can make some businesses nervous to open one. But really, you get the line of credit and hope you never need it. It’s just there for major emergencies – and major opportunities that come your way.

Your business should have lines of credit (LOCs) that cover 80% of your receivable balance. That 80% excludes your bad receivables.

To get a line of credit, you need clean accounts receivables. If your books are messy, you may need to hire a CPA to help you get your books in order. Banks will look to see:

  1. That you’re the amount you want in your LOC makes sense with how much income your business is earning
  1. That you’ll be able to pay off your LOC if you use it

For a sustainable business, keep good books.

With higher operating costs and slimmer margins, surviving in the transportation industry as a small business owner or owner-operator has never been more challenging. However, with a better approach to cash management, Brokers, Freight Forwarders and 3PLs give themselves a better shot at surviving the bumps in the road.

A COMPREHENSIVE LOOK AT THE FREIGHT INDUSTRY IN 2024.

By: TransCredit Inc.

As we look at 2024, the global freight industry finds itself at a critical juncture. Integral to the world’s economy, this sector is undergoing a transformative phase, driven by rapid technological advancements, evolving market demands, and an increased focus on sustainability. This article aims to delve into these key themes — Technological Innovations, Sustainability, and Market Dynamics — to offer a comprehensive understanding of the freight industry’s future landscape.

TECHNOLOGICAL INNOVATIONS IN FREIGHT

  1. Autonomous and Electric Vehicles

The advent of autonomous vehicles (AVs) is poised to revolutionize the freight industry. With companies like Tesla and Waymo at the forefront, AVs promise enhanced road safety, reduced human error, and increased efficiency. Meanwhile, electric trucks are making headway, offering a greener alternative to traditional fuel-powered vehicles. The push towards electrification, spurred by environmental concerns and advancements in battery technology, is set to reduce the industry’s carbon emissions significantly.

  1. AI and Machine Learning

Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) are reshaping logistics and supply chain management. By harnessing vast datasets, these technologies enable predictive maintenance, optimal route planning, and real-time cargo tracking, leading to increased operational efficiency. Companies like IBM and Maersk are leveraging AI to streamline their logistics operations, showcasing the potential of these technologies in revolutionizing the industry.

  1. Blockchain and IoT

Blockchain technology is emerging as a key player in enhancing transparency and trust in supply chain management. It offers a secure and immutable ledger, ideal for tracking the origin, handling, and delivery of goods. The Internet of Things (IoT), with its network of sensors and devices, complements blockchain by providing real-time data essential for efficient supply chain management. Together, they’re setting a new standard in logistics operations.

  1. Case Studies

Several companies are leading the way in these technological innovations. For instance, Amazon’s use of drones for last-mile deliveries exemplifies the cutting-edge application of UAVs in logistics.

SUSTAINABILITY: A CORE FOCUS

  1. Eco-Friendly Practices

Sustainability has become a cornerstone for the freight industry. Companies are increasingly adopting alternative fuels and electrifying their fleets to minimize environmental impact. Beyond reducing emissions, these practices also offer long-term cost savings.

  1. Regulatory Impact

Environmental regulations are significantly influencing industry practices. The International Maritime Organization’s (IMO) 2020 sulfur cap, for instance, has pushed shipping companies to explore cleaner fuel options. National policies on carbon emissions are also shaping the industry’s approach to sustainability.

  1. Economic Implications

Green initiatives, while environmentally crucial, come with economic challenges and opportunities. Investments in sustainable technologies can be substantial, but they also open up new markets and can lead to operational savings.

  1. Industry Examples

Leading players like Maersk are setting ambitious goals to achieve carbon neutrality, indicating a broader industry trend towards sustainability.

MARKET DYNAMICS AND CHALLENGES

  1. Economic Factors

The freight industry is highly susceptible to global economic trends. Fluctuations in fuel prices, trade policies, and international relations can have a profound impact on operations and profitability.

  1. Labor Market and Skill Gaps

The freight industry faces a persistent challenge in labor shortages, especially skilled drivers. Companies are responding by improving working conditions and investing in training and development programs.

  1. Cybersecurity Risks

As the industry becomes increasingly digitized, the risk of cyberattacks escalates. Companies must focus on strengthening their cybersecurity measures to protect their operations and data.

  1. Infrastructure Needs

With the growing demand and technological advancements, the need for improved infrastructure is more pressing than ever. Investments in ports, highways, and warehousing are crucial to support the industry’s growth.

CONCLUSION

As we look forward, the freight industry is set to embrace a future shaped by technological innovation, sustainability, and evolving market dynamics. While challenges remain, the opportunities for growth and improvement are vast. The sector’s ability to adapt and innovate will be key to its success in this new era. The future of freight is not just about moving goods; it’s about moving forward with purpose and vision.

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Data and process: Best practices for 2024

By Joe Cottone, Jr., Customer Solutions Architect with DAT’s Enterprise Customer Success team

As we roll through the first of the year and into the heart of Q1, we’re starting to see RFPs come to fruition.

How do you prepare for your awards? How do you develop the necessary capacity on lanes where you may not have any established? How do you understand the market and properly spot quote freight that you may not have been awarded?

Regardless, if you’re just getting your brokerage started or have an established customer base, when it comes to award management, aside from literal trucks to haul your loads, efficiency in process is key. Accepting your awarded lanes is easier in a slower market – like we would usually see in Q1 – and likely even easier considering the market conditions we experienced throughout 2023. Still, utilizing DAT RateView and the Market Conditions Index (MCI) allow for an informed process.

Learn more about analytics from DAT iQ.

Accept your lanes but understand the fluctuation in price and seasonality that you may see through RateView’s 13-month historical average. Will produce season come into play when booking loads on this lane? Has the load-to-truck ratio (and the load search and truck search data) within MCI changed over the last day, eight days or even the last 30 days?

Also, within RateView, consider your company’s own contributions that populate on lanes you’ve run and contributed. Take into account how you buy as a company versus the market. Your best practice is to consume as much data and information about the market as possible before making a decision.

How to capture capacity

Once you’ve made a decision to accept your volume of awarded freight, you need to secure capacity. A broker can prepare for an influx of awarded freight, but until those loads are in your system, it’s difficult to develop capacity on lanes you haven’t run before.

Utilizing a tool like DAT LaneMakers allows you to search for capacity that you may not have discovered previously. This tool gives users the ability to search for carriers that are not only posting trucks but searching for loads on specific lanes. It highlights active postings and overall search numbers as far back as one full year. Perhaps a carrier you already work with is looking for a lane that you’ve just been awarded – that’s where you can lean into building better relationships and ultimately covering all of your awarded loads.

Mind your margins

As I mentioned above, understanding the data you’re consuming is paramount. This leads to having better conversations with your shippers and making a margin. When you’re not awarded certain lanes and they make their way to the spot market, how do you best quote that freight to win it and profit?

DAT RateView is a tried and tested data source to help with that. But what about those more obscure shipping locations? Lanes where there are fewer data points or fewer contributions behind the RateView rate?

For instance, when utilizing RateView on lanes where there’s only an X(extended)-Market to X(extended)-Market rate from the last 15 days, consider how large that geographical area is and how that might affect the rate DAT is publishing. Compare that to a rate with enough contribution data to warrant granularity at the 3-digit-zip to 3-digit-zip level over the last three days, where DAT will be able to give you a more concise look at the lane you’re trying to quote. All that to say, consume as much data as you have when making the decision to spot quote a load.

Achieving status with your shippers as the market expert on top of a well-built relationship will always help you win freight, but especially in slower markets, we still need to fall back on data and process.

Are you prepared for 2024?  Don’t forget to check out Ken Adamo and Dean Croke’s weekly podcast on Tuesday mornings for continuous market updates to be ready for anything!

About the author

Joe Cottone is a Customer Solutions Architect as a part of our Enterprise Customer Success team. Joe joined DAT with 10 years’ experience in the brokerage industry, supporting and running operations from small to large, primarily working with Enterprise level Shipper customers. With industry knowledge and experience, Joe brings an ideal perspective to both our stakeholders and customers. Our Success team can help offer guidance with any question, offer specialized product training, or gather product feedback to share with internal teams.

Running a Credit Check on Your Freight Broker or Shipper

 

Here’s a scenario that happens all too often: you invoice a customer for your delivered load, only to not get paid on time or at all. This is a burden that many fleets have to deal with instead of spending their time on other important matters, such as developing roles with brokers and shippers or maximizing time delivering loads.

Don’t waste your time chasing down unpaid accounts and missing out on cash flow. Learn the importance of running a freight broker credit check and set your business up for success.

Do You Need To Run a Credit Check on Your Freight Broker or Shipper?

Yes – trucking companies should run freight broker credit checks and shipper credit checks. 

Sometimes in this industry, performing credit checks can be put on the back burner, but you’re putting your business at risk by doing so. To be successful, it’s vital to perform credit checks for new customers and periodic reviews for existing ones. This will significantly mitigate your risk and help you to get paid on time. Let’s get into this a little bit more.

Why You Need To Run a Credit Check on Your Freight Broker

Running a credit check on your freight broker is crucial for several reasons. Firstly, it can help you assess the financial stability of your broker and minimize your financial risks. By verifying the creditworthiness of your broker, you can avoid partnering with a company that may default on payments or go bankrupt, leaving you with unpaid invoices and loss of revenue.

Checking the creditworthiness of your broker can also provide insights into their business practices and reputation. A broker with a history of financial problems may indicate a lack of professionalism and reliability in their operations, which could cause problems for your business in the long run.

Why You Need To Run a Credit Check on Your Freight Shipper

Regular credit checks on your freight shipper can help you stay up-to-date with any changes in their financial situation. Credit scores can fluctuate over time, and a previously reliable shipper may experience financial difficulties that affect their ability to pay on time. By monitoring your shipper’s credit score regularly, you can identify potential issues early and take necessary precautions to protect your business.

Conducting a credit check on shippers is also crucial when it comes to negotiating better rates and terms. If your shipper has a good credit score, they are more likely to pay on time, giving you more leverage to negotiate favorable service terms.

How To Run a Credit Check on Your Freight Broker or Shipper

Before you run a credit check on your prospective broker or shipper, do your due diligence to learn about their history and how they run their business. This will help you get an idea upfront if you want to consider working with them.

Ask your freight shipper or broker these questions:

  • How long have you been in business?
  • How are you going to pay me?
  • Do you have references you’d be willing to share?
  • Do you value customer service and communication?
  • How do you solve issues?

After doing your initial research and are pleased with the results, you can move on to the next step – running a free credit check through a third party. You can view credit ratings, days-to-pay information, debt summary, and more.

What Is Good or Bad Credit for Brokers and Shippers?

To determine if a broker or shipping company would be good to work with, you can follow the following general guidelines:

  • High risk: 0 – 69 credit rating
  • Medium risk: 70 – 86 credit rating
  • Low risk: 87 – 100 credit rating

Don’t forget that credit is just one factor to consider when evaluating the financial stability of a broker or shipper company. You must also analyze payment history, business practices, reputation, and industry experience. When you weigh all these elements, you can confidently decide if you want to enter a business partnership.

Reduce Credit Risk With HaulPay

No one wants to worry about unreliable customers, credit risk, or unpaid invoices. Using the right freight finance tools can provide benefits that help improve cash flow while reducing payment times – that’s where HaulPay comes in.

HaulPay allows you to check customer credit, so you can address payment problems before they even begin. You can also enjoy same-day payment, automated invoicing, and so much more! To learn more about the outstanding benefits of HaulPay, contact the team at Haulpay. We want to help you succeed.

Why Key Performance Indicators Matter

Why Key Performance Indicators Matter

By Dan Rutherford, Virtual CFO and Transportation + Logistics Industry Expert for Summit Virtual CFO by Anders

Key performance indicators (KPIs) are vital for transportation & logistics companies.

KPIs such as revenue per truck, utilization, and revenue per mile provide valuable insights into the company’s performance. Accurate accounting is essential to ensure the reliability of these KPIs, which are critical when creating a financial forecast.

Make sure any CFO you’re working with has the necessary tools and expertise for accurate forecasting. Effective forecasting involves considering not just revenue but also cash flow and making informed decisions about equipment purchases, employment, and other factors that can impact your company’s financial position.

In addition to financial metrics, non-financial metrics play a significant role in assessing performance. Capacity planning, in particular, is critical for aligning a company’s goals with its operational capabilities. By focusing on improving culture, people, technology, and processes, companies can enhance utilization and effectiveness.

Measuring productivity and activity is equally important. 

I believe that productivity and activity go hand in hand, and, by increasing activity levels, productivity naturally improves. Metrics like gross profit per person are widely used on the logistics side of the industry to gauge productivity.

Make sure that you’re meeting regularly with your CFO. You should have an established cadence–meeting weekly to review cash flow. These proactive meetings not only address the current state of your cash flow but also anticipate any potential issues that may arise in the next 12 weeks. This approach ensures that your company is prepared for any challenges and can have peace of mind. If your CFO is reactive (reacting to a situation after it’s happened) rather than proactive (planning for a situation before it happens), you might want to consider a CFO with a more advisory approach.

Having someone on your team that understands the importance of having cash and tax reserves to prepare for unexpected events, such as economic changes or a pandemic, can be the difference in your business thriving or tanking. By discussing these scenarios ahead of time, you can create a plan and feel more secure about your financial future.

Once you understand the importance of forecasting, know your KPIs and non-financial metrics, you can leverage these factors to take your transportation and logistics company to the next level and unlock its full potential. The key to this, however, is having a CFO who understands the industry.

 

What is the better recovery option -Carrier’s Legal Liability or Cargo Insurance?

What is the better recovery option -Carrier’s Legal Liability or Cargo Insurance?

by Robert L Reeb

Shippers must understand the differences in recovery options and choose the best and most cost-effective method to safeguard their financial interests. Property brokers and forwarders can assist customers by providing insightful guidance on these commonly misunderstood options.

Rules of the Road – Interstate Shipments

Since 1906, the Carmack Amendment to the Interstate Commerce Act has provided a federal scheme of carrier liability for actual loss and damage to goods during interstate ground transportation.  49 U.S.C.A. § 14706.

To recover under the Carmack Amendment, the shipper must demonstrate the following:

(1) delivery of the goods to the carrier in good condition;

(2) receipt by the consignee of damaged or lost goods; and

(3) the amount of damage.

If the shipper establishes these three elements, there is a rebuttable presumption of negligence against the carrier. To overcome this presumption, a carrier must show that it was free of negligence and that the damage was due to a) the inherent nature of the goods, or b) attributable to an act of God, public enemy, the shipper or public authority.

Under this standard, the carrier is usually strictly liable for the loss, as these very limited defenses are hard to prove. However, that does not mean the shipper will recover full value.  Under Carmack, the carrier is allowed to limit its liability to far less than full value – often to $.50 per pound.

Other Considerations – Contracts, Declared Value and State Law

  • A carrier has the option to limit its liability through a direct service contract with the shipper, or through the terms of its bill of lading and applicable tariff.
  • To avoid limitation of liability, a shipper must declare a value for the cargo on the bill of lading and pay a higher freight rate (Ad Valorem rate).
  • Declaring a value and paying an Ad Valorem freight rate will be significantly more expensive than purchasing cargo insurance for the goods.
  • Declaring a value does not increase the carrier’s scope of liability. The carrier may still raise all defenses it may have to liability. Declaring a value simply allows a higher recovery if the shipper prevails in its Carmack claim.
  • Where a large value is declared, the Carrier and its insurer will exhaust every legal defense available to them in lieu of paying a full value claim.
  • Varying state laws will apply to a shipment that is solely intrastate – Carmack does
    not apply.

Cargo Insurance (Shippers Interest)

In the simplest terms, cargo insurance (also referred to as shipper’s interest) covers the cargo owner against loss to their property while in transit on an all-risk basis. It covers against physical loss or damage from external causes from perils such as theft, damage and natural disasters like floods and hurricanes (subject to policy terms and conditions).

Cargo insurance is a broad form of property coverage designed to protect the cargo owner’s financial interest and is usually available as a value-add from the freight forwarder, property broker or directly from an insurance provider.

The cost of insuring goods under a cargo policy will normally be substantially less expensive than seeking to declare a value for your cargo with a carrier, which will result in a higher freight charge. Carriers are not in the business of selling insurance on the cargo, and so will be a much more expensive option. Cargo insurance is also a better option because it provides broader protection than declaring a value with a carrier.

Also, when there is a loss, the insurance company pays the claim directly to cargo owner and then seeks recovery from the responsible carrier. Thus, eliminating the need to chase down the motor carrier for payment of claim.

The chart below offers a quick look at the difference between legal liability including declared value and cargo insurance:

When evaluating the options selecting cargo insurance provides the cargo owner with the greatest likelihood of receiving recovery for loss or damage to their shipment. It may take extra effort on your part to guide the cargo owner to this decision, but ultimately, ensuring their satisfaction is advantageous.

Disclaimer: This information is provided as a public service and for discussion of the subject in general. It is not to be construed as legal advice. Readers are urged to seek professional guidance from appropriate parties on all matters mentioned herein.

About the Authors:

Robert (Rob) L. Reeb is a civil trial lawyer with Marwedel, Minichello & Reeb, P.C. and is experienced in maritime and transportation law, including intermodal cargo losses; personal injury defense for cases involving property brokers, transportation intermediaries, and equipment owners in major trucking accidents,  pleasure boating,  the Jones Act,  transportation intermediaries (freight forwarders, NVOCCs and customs brokers);  industrial equipment transportation; marine and inland marine insurance.

Navigating Tight Finances in 2024: Make-or-break strategies for small businesses.

By Dan Rutherford, Virtual CFO

Make-or-break strategies for small businesses.

It’s clear that 2024 is going to continue to be a challenging year for the trucking industry. With stimulus money running out and interest rates up, it’s no surprise that deactivations are also steadily on the rise.

In this environment, where it seems like so much is out of an owner’s control, the best approach is: Control what you can.

With all the moving parts for transportation and logistics companies, no one can blame an owner who is just trying to get through the week, cash-wise. Fuel costs, unexpected breakdowns, payroll – it’s a lot.

But if you’re going week-to-week, how can you look ahead to bigger decisions like hiring or major purchases and how to finance them? In leaner times, it becomes way too risky to just go with your gut.

Cash flow management might sound like a lot of number crunching, but it’s really just a way to take the information you already have about your company’s revenue and expenses and put it to work for you. By knowing your major monthly, quarterly and annual expenses and when you can expect client invoices to be paid, you take your gut out of the equation.

Cash Reserves

Part of cash flow management means building up enough cash reserves to weather any storms. We recommend anywhere from 10-30% of annualized gross revenue, depending on your size and level of risk.

That may sound like a huge number – and you don’t have to get there overnight – but there’s a reason why people love to say, “Cash is king.” If you’ve got a strong cash reserve and know what the next quarter and year will look like for your business, you’re going to be the one to make it through tough economic times. Having cash is a bit like driving a monster truck versus a scooter: the scooter might feel fun and carefree, until you get stuck behind a pile of boulders.

When you stay on top of your cash flow with weekly check-ins, you won’t be worried about coming up short for a payroll, and you won’t have to worry about getting hit by an unexpected expense. But it goes beyond that: You’ll be ready to grab those once-in-a-lifetime opportunities because you’ll already have the data to back up your decision.

As industry conditions tighten, the businesses that will survive and thrive will be the ones using data to understand and manage their cash flow.,

A solid financial model of your operational decisions is the secret to successful scaling. Our experienced CFOs create a dynamic forecast to help you analyze how those decisions impact your cash flow and financial statements. Are you ready to consult with our Virtual CFOs? Contact Dan Rutherford, Virtual CFO and Transportation + Logistics Industry Expert, for a free consultation

 

The Must-Have Insurance for Brokers: Contingent Auto Liability

The Must-Have Insurance for Brokers: Contingent Auto Liability

  By: Roanoke Group

THE LIABILITY LANDSCAPE for the trade and transportation industry is changing. Carrier accidents on the road resulting in bodily injury and property damage (BIPD) claims pose a real financial threat to brokers, forwarders, and other transportation intermediaries. Recently, the number of large trucks involved in fatal crashes and the resulting jury awards have skyrocketed. Inconsistent application of the law has put the burden of these “nuclear verdicts” on not just the carriers but also the broker-forwarders responsible for hiring the carriers.

Contingent Auto Liability Coverage

When innocent citizens are injured or killed in a trucking accident, the liability assigned to the broker-forwarder may be broader than Contingent Auto Liability (CAL) is intended to address. Because the carrier who physically operates the motor vehicle is first in line for third-party BIPD claims, the intermediary’s exposure is considered contingent. CAL is intended to defend the intermediary against allegations of responsibility. However, when these claims play out in court, the broker-forwarders are often held accountable based on vicarious liability or negligent carrier selection.

Best Practices to Protect Your Business

CAL insurance is vitally important for every transportation intermediary who arranges for the movement of cargo by truck, and there are a few strategies broker-forwarders can employ to secure this coverage:

  1. Establish a relationship with an experienced insurance broker specialized in transportation and logistics. The intricate, everchanging landscape of this industry requires an expert to identify exposures, explore risk transfer solutions with appropriate insurance companies, and present effective solutions.
  2. Develop a consistent, repeatable process for carrier vetting. The insurance companies that do offer CAL coverage have implemented stringent underwriting guidelines to manage exposures and losses. They will expect a vetting strategy that includes verification of the carrier’s authority, SAFER score and valid insurance.
  3. Review and hone marketing materials. Underwriters review the intermediary’s website and published documents to ensure broker-forwarders represent themselves as intermediaries. Any implication that the intermediary may be operating assets or taking a broader role in the transportation activity are red flags which may result in declination.
  4. Conduct an audit of all contracts including your own terms and conditions and review the relationships and agreements between all involved parties. A transportation intermediary needs published “Terms & Conditions of Service” (Ts & Cs) which are effectively communicated to their clients to define the intermediary’s role in the process and outline the parties responsible for cargo damage, third-party bodily injury and property damage. When clients require agreement to terms outside the broker-forwarder’s Ts & Cs, the intermediary should utilize a standard broker/client contract format. These agreements are available to TIA members free of charge, and many legal professionals also provide these forms as part of their service.

Please contact us at 1-800-ROANOKE (866-934-8174) or via email at

infospot @roanokegroup.com for a comprehensive risk consult.

Disclaimer: The descriptions of coverage described above are generalized and are subject to the specific policy’s terms, conditions and exclusions. For full coverage details, please refer to the actual policy forms. This content is not an offer of insurance, nor does it provide insurance coverage to the reader.

 

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