Transportation Intermediaries Association
Published in the Marketplace Digest September 29, 2022
The TIA Bond Program and Bond Claims

Content Provided by Avalon Risk Management

The TIA Bond Program and Bond Claims

We hope you benefited from our Annual Bond Webinar hosted by TIA. In case you missed it, the following is a recap of some of the claims topics covered during the webinar.

MAP-21 has been in effect since October 2013 and requires property brokers to be licensed with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and establish proof of financial responsibility in the form of a bond or trust fund agreement. A property broker can fulfil this requirement by obtaining a BMC-84 bond or BMC-85 trust fund agreement.

The TIA Bond Program

TIA offers the FMCSA mandated $75,000 to qualifying property brokers and domestic freight forwarders. In addition, TIA members can obtain bonds with higher limits in the amounts of $100,000 or $250,000 and Avalon handles all claims that are submitted in accordance with MAP-21 regulations.

The bond is in place to protect carriers against broker insolvency and a broker’s failure to pay freight charges owed to the carrier for services rendered. The bond is in place only to cover unpaid freight charges and is not able to cover lost or damaged goods, or damage to property. Under MAP-21 regulations, the surety must respond to the claim on or before the 30th day on which the notice is received.

What happens if a claim is filed against your bond?

If a claim is filed, we will notify you of the open claim. You are given the opportunity to pay the claim or provide a written dispute. If payment has been made or is pending, we will request proof of payment. If there is a dispute over the invoice, the dispute should be supported with agreed upon terms of a rate confirmation or a broker-carrier agreement.

Broker Insolvency
If claims are unresolved after 30 days, the surety must investigate the broker for suspected insolvency.
Insolvent brokers are published for 60 days on our website, in accordance with 49 USC 13906, as amended by Map-21, Division C, Subtitle I, Section 32918.

Payment of claims
According to the regulations passed by MAP–21, the surety may only pay a claim if one of three conditions are met:
(i) subject to the review by the surety provider, the broker consents to the payment;
(ii) in any case in which the broker does not respond to adequate notice to address the validity of the claim, the surety provider determines that the claim is valid; or, (iii) the claim is not resolved within a reasonable period of time following a reasonable attempt by the claimant to resolve the claim under clauses (i) and (ii), and the claim is reduced to a judgment against the broker.

The surety must pay all valid claims received before or during the 60-day advertising period. After the advertising period has concluded, the surety will review all remaining valid claims received. Payment will be made in whole if total claims are under the bond amount. However, if total claims received are over the bond amount, the surety will issue payment on a pro-rata basis. In the event that the surety issues payment from the bond, the broker is responsible for reimbursement to the surety for any claim payments.

Exclusions
There are instances where a claim may not be considered valid. There are three main exemptions found under 49 USC 14705:
• Claims must be submitted to the surety within 18 months of the shipment pickup date. If a claim is submitted to the surety beyond the 18 month statute of limitations, we are unable to accept the claim.
• The bond cannot cover claims containing exempt commodities. If a shipment contains exempt commodities, mostly produce, agricultural commodities, dairy, and poultry, the claim is exempt from coverage.
• If a shipment does not cross a state or federal line at any point during the shipment, it is exempt from coverage

For a comprehensive list of commodities that are considered exempt, please visit https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/sites/fmcsa.dot.gov/files/docs/Administrative_Ruling_119.pdf. 

Additionally, if the claimant does not have active carrier authority at the time of the shipment, the claim is not considered valid. A motor carrier must be licensed with the FMCSA and have active motor carrier authority at the time that the shipment took place.

Lastly, if a claimant is not a motor carrier or shipper operating as a motor carrier, we cannot accept the claim. The bond language states that the bond is for the benefit of motor carriers and shippers by way of motor carrier. If a claimant is not operating in the capacity of a motor carrier, they are not considered a valid party to the bond.

Best Practices
• Have clearly defined terms and conditions in any contract with carriers.
• Acknowledge receipt of clam as soon as possible and forward to the appropriate party for a response.
• The surety only has 30 days to respond. If there is a dispute, provide information on the dispute as soon as possible for the surety to make a decision and resolve the claim.
• To aid a disputed claim, provide the Broker- Carrier Agreement on file with the carrier and reference any terms of the agreement that support your dispute.
• Since the surety only has 30 days to respond, the sooner you can provide information on your dispute, the sooner we can issue a decision and resolve the claim.

Claim Trends

An analysis of our claims data indicates an increasing number of claims received for the following reasons:
• A deduction was made against the carrier for late delivery or missed appointments.
• The carrier billed unapproved accessorial charges.
• A deduction was made against the carrier for noncompliance with tracking requirements.
• There is an unresolved damage claim against the carrier and an offset has been placed against them.

Having a bond through the TIA Bond Program allows you the peace of mind that claims are not automatically paid and are handled in accordance with MAP-21.
For more information on the application process, please visit https://www.tianet.org/tiabond/.

If you have any questions regarding claims against your bond or MAP-21 regulations, you may contact the TIA claims department at (847) 235-6283 or via email at claims@tiasuretyclaims.com .

Author: James Francis, Avalon Surety Claims Lead, Education Dept.

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