We’ve seen it every time the economy sours: thefts at construction sites rise, sometimes sharply.
The COVID-19 downturn has been no different and, while it’s part of the cost of doing business, losing a loader or some other expensive piece of construction equipment is never easy to stomach.
Of course, that’s why you buy Commercial Property insurance, but, again, the hassle is never welcome.
Most commonly, thefts peak in August, then fall in September. This year, we’re expecting the problem to continue through the fall. Why? Simply because a lot of work was sidelined by COVID-19 in the spring and summer and has now picked up again as everyone pushes to get jobs done before winter. That, of course, means the bad guys have more opportunities to strike.
What follows are six ways to help you thwart construction equipment thefts, or at least minimize the damage to your bottom line.
1. Stamp or engrave your equipment with some kind of recognizable indicator – it can be a symbol or series of numbers – so that it’s harder to sell on the black market.
2. Thieves can be ingenious but, like the rest of us, may not want to go to too much trouble. So secure your fleet. In locking down your site in the evenings, park vehicles facing into a circle, with smaller pieces of equipment placed in the middle, and make sure alarms are armed and lighting is switched on. If you can, move your big-ticket items into a highly visible area, so that you’re not providing cover for anyone trying to steal something. Consider using barbed wire or razor wire at the top of fences for added security.
3. Make sure you’ve designated someone to check up on the site at different times during weekends, a holiday or extended down time.
4. Use a tracking system. Some of these can continuously monitor and track your equipment, while others include features that trigger an alert if a vehicle leaves a permitted area or is moved during off hours. Yet other systems include software that locks down or disables vehicles so they cannot be moved.
5. Use a registry service. This is no more complicated than entering a piece of equipment’s serial number, engine number, or some other identification numbers into a database that’s available to law enforcement. One such service: the National Equipment Register.
6. Consider creating a confidential reward system for information leading to the recovery of your equipment. We hate to say it, sometimes the people working on your site are the most likely to have information of this nature.
This isn’t a preventive measure, but there is one more thing to make sure you do:
Let your insurance agent know whenever you’ve bought a new piece of construction equipment. As a general rule, you should be sure to add to your policy – or “schedule” – any piece of equipment valued at over $1,000. It’s a lot easier to file a claim for a scheduled piece of equipment than, say, a cement mixer you neglected to tell your carrier about.
Morgan P. Mahoney is an Assistant Vice President and insurance advisor in CCIG’s Commercial Lines department. Reach him at Morgan.Mahoney@thinkccig.com or at 720-330-7926.
CCIG is a Denver-area insurance, employee benefits and surety brokerage with clients nationwide. We do more than make sure you have the right policy. We help you manage your long-term cost of insurance with our risk and claims management expertise and a commitment to service excellence.