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Prime Mover Magazine

NatRoad talks Australian Consumer Law

Federal Parliament’s changes to Australian Consumer Law (October 2018), have left transport operators with concerns about the terms on which they can (or cannot) provide transport and storage services, according to the National Road Transport Association (NatRoad).

NatRoad said in a statement that the changes to the law mean that operators cannot contract out of the consumer guarantee to provide transportation/storage services with ‘due care and skill’ unless both the consignor and consignee are each operating a business. It also alleges that the changes could provide perfect conditions for a rise in claims against transport and warehouse operators.

National Transport Insurance (NTI) General Manager, Mike Edmonds, told NatRoad that risk mitigation is as simple as engaging with an insurance specialist who has industry knowledge and experience.

“In simple terms – there’s nothing drastically new here, and this isn’t a trick to catch people out; it’s a way to protect freight, carriers and customers,” said Edmonds.

“From a customer perspective, an operator making good on damaged customers’ goods, rather than seeking to avoid liability in a contract, is a win for all parties. All it takes is an appropriate insurance policy with the inclusion of an Accidental Damage (AD) cover option,” he said.

NTI recognises it is unreasonable for operators to expect their cartage terms and conditions to reduce or remove liability, every time.

“NTI Carriers Protect is comprehensive cargo insurance that includes AD and Insured Perils cover, which protects the operator regardless of liability at law,” said Edmonds.

While operators can opt for a lesser option, Edmonds explains it can come at a cost.

“Operators can still seek to manage their cargo risk by attempting to exclude or reduce their liability for some business customers as long as the contract is clear and agreed by both parties,” he said. “Every business differs, but the basics for getting the most from your insurance stay the same: engage with an insurance broker or agent who is a specialist in your field; explore your options, and seek to have a sound understanding of the differences in cover and level of protection you’re willing to accept.”

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