Dealing With Claims of Windshield Damage Due to Rocks Thrown by Sweepersby Ranger Kidwell-Ross
One of the hazards of sweeping, especially with air sweepers, are claims for windshield damage. While some of these may be valid, as many sweeper operators will attest, it's also an area where false claims are commonplace. Here are some ideas about how to handle damage claims, taken from the 2004 Sweeper Roundtable at NPE.
Right after it happens, one contractor said, run a credit card along the crack. If it scrapes and stops along the window crack, that's an indication the damage just happened. If not, it isn't a recent crack.
An insurance professional in the group said: "Our recommendation is that the burden of proof is on the individual with the cracked window to prove that it happened as a result of the sweeper or other piece of machinery. You should challenge the claimant with providing you with specific information about where it happened, plate number, time of day, weather, etc. That can stall some of the people who make claims."
One of the California contractors told us: "In California, if a rock hits the road first then it's a road hazard, at which the person's comprehensive policy will cover it. Tell them to call their insurance company to get the same information."
Another New Jersey contractor responded: "In New Jersey, damage over $100 has to have a police report. If you tell them they have to make the report, a number of claims will fall out." [Be sure to check with your state's jurisdiction to find out the law in your area.]
A comment on a related topic was made that one contractor had found it cost- and time-effective to purchase wash coupons in bulk from one or more local car wash places. Then, on the occasion when someone gets upset because their car has been covered with dust from a sweeper, the wash coupons may be given away. It's better than having someone going to the property manager or other client making accusations when you're not there to defend yourself. Also cheap positive public relations.
Have an idea that would be helpful to others in the industry? Please let us know what it is.
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