An insurance look: Semi-truck in Los Angeles explodes

So, usually, we have a little introduction to articles where we take a real-life news story and examine it from an insurance angle. But with this one, it seems easier just to dive into the “what happened” section. Basically, a semi-truck exploded.

What happened?

On the morning of Monday, April 15th, a semi truck at the Port of Los Angeles exploded.

The 18 wheeler was hauling four cars when it caught fire, then exploded. The semi-truck and the four vehicles were severely damaged by the incident, and residents in nearby San Pedro said that the explosion was strong enough to shake their homes. The cause of the explosion is still under investigation.

The driver was evaluated at the scene but chose not to go to the hospital. There were no other injuries reported.

What questions do we have?

When we look at a situation like this, we can’t help but think about it from an insurance perspective, which often brings up a few questions that are relevant to how the coverage would work and how it would apply. These are the questions that came up for us:

  • What caused the fire/explosion?

Of course, the cause of the fire and explosion is still under investigation. But it could make a difference to the way the insurance would work and how the resulting claims would be handled. Was the fire just a freak accident that happened?

  • Was anything else damaged in the explosion?

Our next question is whether anything else was damaged in the explosion. Is there any property damage that the trucking business could be liable for? We are talking about an explosion, after all.

  • Who owns the semi-truck?

Was the driver operating under their own authority? Who owns the vehicle?

  • Did the trucking business have workers’ comp or occupational accident insurance?

We’re also wondering if there’s any workers’ comp insurance for the truck driver. Though the driver declined to go to the hospital, what if there’s soft tissue damage or other issues that arise later and they need treatment?

  • Was there any environmental damage?

Another question is whether there’s any environmental damage that the business could be liable for.

  • How quickly will the company be able to get a truck back on the road? 

The company that owns the truck is down one big rig, which means they’re losing income. Do they have the right coverage to be able to lease a truck? How quickly will they be able to get back to operating normally?

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What coverages could apply in this situation?

There are a lot of different semi-truck insurance coverages out there, and they all protect businesses from different kinds of losses. Some of the coverages that could apply in this sort of situation are physical damage insurance, cargo insurance, and workers’ comp.

  • Physical damage insurance.

Physical damage insurance could help the trucking business recover from the loss of this truck. (Looking at photos of the scene, it’s pretty clear that this truck won’t get back on the road again.) There are two pieces to physical damage insurance – collision coverage and comprehensive coverage.

In this situation, comprehensive coverage would be a likely candidate to help out. Comprehensive covers losses that aren’t related to a collision or wreck. It generally covers damage from vandalism, falling objects (like trees), animal strikes, fire, and yes – explosion. It also covers theft.

Collision insurance can help repair or replace a semi-truck if it’s damaged in an accident or by another collision.

(Since auto liability insurance does not cover the truck itself and only protects other drivers on the road in the event that a truck driver is in an accident, it’s important that truckers carry physical damage insurance to protect their vehicle.)

  • Cargo insurance.

The four cars that were being hauled were seriously damaged in the explosion. Cargo insurance helps truck drivers cover the load their hauling and can protect against losses like fire and theft. It can also help with the costs of clearing debris off the road following an accident and with the costs of preventing additional damage to the load.

  • Workers’ compensation.

We discussed this briefly earlier, but workers’ compensation insurance would be another important coverage in this sort of event. Workers’ comp helps cover an employee’s medical bills and a portion of their lost wages if they’re injured on the job and they can’t work. That way they get the medical care they need, and they don’t have to worry about paying for their living expenses. Anyways, even though the driver in this news story did not appear to be seriously injured or need medical attention at the moment, this would have been crucial if they had been hurt. Or, like we said, if they need medical attention for issues arising from the explosion that present themselves later on.

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We’re glad that no one was seriously hurt by this incident, and we hope that the semi-truck driver will be okay. Despite how far-fetched some of the losses insurance can cover may seem (i.e. explosion), they can happen. It’s important to make sure that you have the right coverage for your business and your trucks so that you’re protected financially in case something happens.

Get started with truck insurance quotes by filling out our online form, messaging us on LiveChat, or giving us a call. We’re here to help you get the insurance you need to protect your trucks, whether they’re big rigs, flatbeds, dump trucks, box trucks, tow trucks, reefers, or tanker trucks.