According to the Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC), cargo theft costs the Canadian economy $5 billion a year. Thought to be linked to organized crime, criminals can often steal a transport truck or trailer, offload the cargo, and turn around and sell it before the theft is even reported.
What cargo thieves target depends upon the point in time. Over the past 15 years there have been four major shifts in cargo theft trends, says CanadianUnderwriter.ca, with electronics being the most sought-after commodity in 2008. Then it switched to food and beverage items as economies and people struggled, remaining that way until 2020. When the pandemic started, not surprisingly, cleaning supplies and sanitizers took the number one spot. As we recover, electronics have once again become the most coveted item for cargo thieves.
Cargo theft tactics
Cargo theft tends to occur in one of four forms:
- Straight cargo theft is when cargo is stolen from where it sits, such as at a truck stop, parking lot, roadside restaurant, etc. These crimes tend to be those of chance and opportunity.
- Strategic cargo theft is when fraud or deceptive information is used to obtain cargo. Thieves have been known to create fake fronts to trick businesses into thinking they are a legitimate transport company, or even steal a company’s identity outright. A bad employee may also help plan a strategic cargo theft by providing the information criminals need to track and trap a target.
- Some cargo theft organizations are using technology like GPS jammers to wipe out trackers and “hide” loads from the system.
- Cyber-attacks like phishing attempts to have an employee inadvertently open the door to malware are not uncommon. Ensure cyber security protocols are up to date.
Cargo theft insurance
Coverage for cargo depends on the type of business. In Alberta, independent transport companies that own their vehicles but are transporting someone else’s property require cargo insurance in addition to a regular commercial vehicle insurance policy. Cargo insurance is often built into general transportation insurance designed especially for hauling companies, and can include coverage for loss during transport and damage during loading or unloading.
More information on what types of businesses and what sorts of cargo requires cargo insurance can be found on the Government of Alberta website.
If your business owns the cargo being delivered, as well as the delivery vehicle, cargo insurance should not be required, however we recommend speaking with an experience insurance broker such as us at Lane’s about your particular circumstances. Business insurance can be quite flexible and customizable. We can help you perform a quick risk assessment of your business that will clarify the exact kind of coverage you need.
When filing a claim for cargo theft, which coverage it falls under may depend on the location of the crime. If the driver is out on the road when robbed, the claim will likely fall under cargo insurance. If cargo is stolen from a loaded truck parked on a business’ property and the business owns the goods, the claim will likely fall under business insurance.
Cargo theft prevention
Cargo theft is very hard on business owners and consumers alike. Because the delivery is not made, payment can be deferred. In addition, as we all know, supply chains are very fragile and can be disrupted easily. Cargo theft incidents trickle down to clients ending up without the goods they ordered and customers frustrated by empty shelves.
The IBC offers several ways to protect your business from cargo theft, including:
- As cargo theft is often planned by those on the “inside,” employees should be carefully screened before hired.
- Sensitive information should only be provided to the people who need to know it and protected through rigorous cybersecurity protocols.
- Security systems should be up to date and operational at all times. Most thefts occur from midnight to 5 a.m., so equipment needs to work exceptionally well during these times.
- Never leave cargo in a vehicle overnight.
- Install a large fence and a swipe card system to track entrances and exits to your property.
- Keep meticulous records about your cargo, including taking photos of loads.
- Educate drivers on how to avoid theft while protecting their personal safety. Cargo should never be left unattended.
- Additional measures such as GPS trackers on vehicles and cargo can pay off greatly, helping to provide important information to authorities in real time.
The IBC has provided this safety assessment for companies to highlight potential risks and find ways to improve their safety and security.
Reporting cargo theft
All too often, cargo theft goes unreported. This not only makes both property discovery and prosecution impossible, it also does not provide authorities with the data they need in order to address the problem properly.
Drivers who are the victim of cargo theft should immediately contact police services in the area in which the incident occurred. They will advise as to the next steps to take. There’s the potential for a dangerous situation to occur, and so it’s important that authorities are aware to help protect the safety of the driver.
Whether or not you choose to file an insurance claim may depend on the size of the theft. If the goods lost are valued at less than your deductible, you may choose to forego filing a claim. Because we operate independently of insurance companies, your trained insurance brokers at Lane’s can help you assess the overall situation and offer the best options for you and your company.
Regardless of whether you wish to make a claim for cargo theft, business owners are asked to submit an online cargo theft incident report to the Équité Association to help build knowledge around the seriousness of the level of cargo theft in Canada. This national cargo theft reporting program operates with the Canadian Trucking Alliance and allows for the collection of national data. Companies can choose to report anonymously online or through a phone call to 1-877-422-TIPS (8477), which is open 24 hours a day.
Trust Lane’s for your business insurance needs
Life is full of surprises, and not all of them are good ones. You’ve worked hard to grow your business through difficult times, and you need to protect that investment with the right customized business insurance policy.
Business insurance policies available through Lane’s include: