Lost Your Trailer Or Cargo? Here’s What To Do

If you manage a fleet of drivers and/or assets, you do a lot of good work when it comes to ensuring their fleet and drivers are operating safely, compliantly, and ensuring that customers are getting their freight on time.

However, what happens when you or your drivers can’t lost your trailer? Perhaps the asset or trailer was stolen, or you simply can’t remember where you left it.

Spending precious time looking for your trailers is not a situation you want to be in. Not to mention the stress that it comes with.

But if you find yourself in a situation with stolen or mislocated assets and/or trailers, here are some tips on what you should do right away.

Most importantly are the preventative measures you put in place beforehand, which we will cover further down. To skip down to the methods of preventing losing track of trailers, click here.

Where was its last known position?

You often assume that trailers will be right where they leave them, leading to a lack of security measures. Unfortunately, cargo theft and confused memory is a real issue that fleets need to plan for and actively prevent.

It’s important to try and determine whether the trailer was stolen, or simply misplaced. There may not be clarity in most cases as this can happen when trailers are not used for several months. If you have an accurate record of where drivers have left trailers, you will want to pull up the last recorded location and have drivers look more thoroughly in that yard/truck-stop.

Make it known to your drivers that there is a trailer missing, and contact the last driver to have been in contact with it. Gather as many records and as much information as possible on the missing trailer, which will help with the next steps in the process.

Notify other fleets & drivers

Tap into your network of other fleets and their drivers and notify them that your trailer was stolen. They may be able to help you keep an eye out for the missing trailer while they’re on the road.

Call fleet managers who have operations in the last known location of the lost trailer, and ask them to notify their drivers of your missing/stolen trailers.

The information you should provide them with are:

If they are willing to share the message with other carriers they are in contact with, that would also increase your chances of finding the trailer.

Local trucking associations

There are many trucking associations and organizations that have websites with reports of stolen or lost trailers.

Make sure to reach out to them and have them post a listing for your lost trailer, so even more members of the community will be able to help look for your missing equipment.

A good example of a site like this is https://www.tracersystem.us/, or https://www.truckpaper.com/listings/trailers/stolen/list but you should reach out to your local association or the association that manages the area where the trailer was last located.

Want to prevent ever losing your trailer or having it stolen? Asset trackers are the solution you need.

Insurance Claims

After a reasonable amount of time has passed and you still aren’t able to locate the lost trailer, call your insurance agent and file a claim. Make sure you understand what policies you have in your insurance plan to ensure maximum liability coverage.

Physical Damage Insurance – Trucking/Semi Truck

The owner of the tractor or asset would need to have an Auto Physical Damage policy in order to receive reimbursement equivalent to the cash value of their tractor / asset. However, keep in mind that not all policies are the same and some may exclude theft coverage, so make sure you read the policies carefully before signing with an insurance provider.

Motor Truck Cargo

Ensure that you also share with your insurance agent the value of the contents within the trailer (if not empty). This way, the insurance company can help cover the costs of the contents as well provided that your policy coverage limit is sufficient.

Trailer Interchange Insurance

If you are operating and have lost a trailer that is not your own, your liability can be covered if you have trailer interchange insurance. That is assuming that the lost equipment is outlined under the Trailer Interchange Agreement you have signed with the owner.

As you may have noticed, a lot of the measures to help you out in your situation requires preventative planning. Fingers crossed that you find your lost trailer with some of the tips above.

Now let’s talk about how you can prevent losing track of your trailers from happening again.

Preventative and Protective Measures

As you may have noticed, a lot of the measures to help you out when you can’t find your trailer require you to take preventative measures. Fingers crossed that you find your lost trailer with some of the tips above.

Now let’s talk about how you can prevent losing track of your trailers from happening again.

Insurance

If you aren’t covered under the policies we outlined in the last section, you’ll want to make sure you talk to your insurance agent and get the proper coverage.

Insurance may seem like a large expense at first, however compared to being liable for all theft and damages yourself, it is a small price to pay.

Depending on your situation and operations, different policies will be applicable/useful. However a general rule of thumb is to have all 3 of the following:

  1. Automotive Damage Insurance – Covers the trailer/truck itself for loss or damages
  2. Motor Truck Cargo Liability Coverage – Covers the contents within the cargo
  3. General Liability – Covers accidents when drivers load/unload, or at parking lots & rest stops

Some insurance companies also provide discounted rates based on whether or not you have tracking systems installed for the assets, which leads us to our next point.

Asset/Trailer Tracking Devices

It’s a known fact that having asset trackers for your trailers significantly improves the chances of recovering the lost asset.

Insurance Discounts

For insurance companies, this mitigates the chances that they’ll have to cover costs related to loss/theft, which is why they may provide a premium discount to your plan.

Beyond the cost savings with the insurance companies, asset trackers will give you a lot more control over your operations.

Not only will it reduce the chances of you or your drivers losing track of trailers, it can also provide logistical efficiencies by giving you real time location on where all your empty and in-transit trailers are.

Smart Alerts

Cargo theft is a huge issue in the US (FBI estimates it is responsible for $15 Billion in losses every year). However, it can be prevented if your asset tracker can detect changes in the trailers’ locations.

This can be done by setting up geofences around your trailers’ locations, so that when your assets leave the predefined geofence, you will get notified.

That way, if your trailer is not assigned to a driver and it changes location, you can instantly investigate and track down the situation.

Reefer (refrigerated trailer) Monitoring

On top of that, certain asset trackers also allow for temperature and humidity monitoring. This is extremely beneficial for temperature controlled cargo and monitoring the condition of your reefers, and can provide your customers peace of mind during the shipment process.

To prevent theft, it is also important to ensure that the asset trackers have their own backup power because often times their power supply is cut by those stealing the trailer.

Not all asset trackers are made with the same quality and capabilities, so make sure you do thorough research before picking a provider.

In summary, here are the benefits you’ll want to get asset trackers for your trailers

Our team at Switchboard has created an integrated asset tracking system that is connected to our ELD and fleet management platform, which allows fleet managers and safety officers to track all assets and drivers in one place.

Asset Tracking with Switchboard

Keep track of all your assets

Learn more about our real time asset tracking system with temperature and humidity monitoring features below.

We really hope that you never run into the situation of losing your tractor trailer or cargo. It can be extremely stressful and the costs associated can be damaging to your profits.

However we hope that this article has helped provide some guidance on what you can do if it happens, and the measures you can take to prevent them from happening in the future.

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