HGV Breakdown Cover – What do you need to get cover and what should you do if you breakdown during a journey?
HGVs travel many hundreds of miles and often cover long distances. If an HGV breaks down on a road or motorway, this not only impacts the business but also affects other road users. Breakdown cover for HGVs is essential as it means that if your vehicle breaks down during a journey then help is at hand at the roadside to carry out any repairs and to get you back on your journey.
Having breakdown cover in place makes the journey, and any breakdowns, less stressful and potentially less expensive in the long run.
Due to the distances many HGVs travel on a daily basis, having HGV breakdown cover means that you have the peace of mind to know if the vehicle does break down then you can access a service that will either carry out a roadside repair, or get you to a recovery centre if the problem is more complex.
A breakdown policy gives you an agreed SLA when your vehicle will be attended to, rather than frantically calling around garages when you breakdown with no policy in place!
The main aim of having breakdown cover in place is to ensure that your HGV keeps moving. It is a commercial business after all and having a vehicle off the road can impact seriously on the bottom line.
There are so many problems that arise when an HGV that is fully loaded breaks down. It does not only impact the immediate business operations, but if the vehicle is on the road or motorway then it can cause issues for many other road users.
Failing to adequately protect against breakdowns can risk the entire supply chain and lead to delays in logistics operations. The RAC has stated that there is a one in three chance of commercial vehicles breaking down annually. The additional costs you can incur by not having breakdown cover can include the cost of an urgent repair call out, the cost of towing the vehicle to the garage, repair costs, and the cost of the clean up operation.
What you should do if your HGV breaks down?
HGVs break down for many different reasons. Sometimes the reason could simply be a flat tyre, and other times the breakdown could be because of a more complicated problem with the vehicle.
Whatever the reason, all HGV drivers/operators should have a safety plan in place to ensure that they remain safe in the event of a breakdown, and that they also try and ensure other road users are kept not impacted.
These are the steps drivers should take if they ever find themselves in a breakdown situation:
- Try and move the vehicle off the road.
This is important. If you can, get the vehicle onto the hard shoulder or somewhere suitable to stop that does not cause a danger to other people or oncoming traffic. Remember to try and opt for hard ground when stopping and avoid soft or sloping ground. Laybys are the best option.
- Make sure you are safe and visible.
This is important. Put on your hazard lights, move into the left lane (if in UK) and enter the next emergency area. Then, get out of the HGV and find somewhere safe to stand. You should wear a high visibility jacket, so you are visible to other road users. If you have a warning triangle then place this at least 45m behind your lorry or truck. Remember, you should not use warning triangles on hard shoulders. If you are parked on a slope, make sure you chock your wheels to avoid slippage.
- Call someone for help.
Do this as soon as you can. If you do not have a phone, then try and find an emergency telephone. If you are walking to a telephone, then always walk on the verge and not on the road. It is always a good idea to use the emergency telephones on motorways if you can as they enable the operator to locate your exact location. If there is a real emergency, then always call 999. This should only be in emergency situations such as a fire, and not a general breakdown situation. It is always good practice to carry the details of your breakdown recovery provider with you.
- Check your load.
If anything has fallen from your truck or lorry, then do not attempt to retrieve it. This could be dangerous and result in serious injury. If there are any hazardous substances or fluids that have spilled on to the road, then you will need to inform the authorities such as Highways England.
Your employer will have details of who needs to be notified so contact them first and they will assist you.
There is a government reporting website you may also have to visit to check that all the correct protocols have been followed. If you do have to leave your vehicle, for example, to use the emergency telephone, then you should ensure your lorry load is secure. If you are carrying animals, then check the weather conditions and whether you will likely run out of food and water for them. Similarly, if you are carrying chilled items and the refrigeration is not working you will have to be mindful of this.
- Do not carry out any repairs.
It is dangerous for you to attempt to carry out any repairs to the vehicle unless you have the specific authorisation from your employer. If you are authorised and qualified to carry out repairs, you are in a safe spot, and you have the right tools you can try and repair the vehicle, but this is not normally possible for many drivers.
There are also the basic Highway Code guidelines drivers need to be aware of:
- Get the HGV off the road where possible
- Warn other traffic – use your hazard lights if you are causing an obstruction
- If it is dark or there is poor visibility, then put your sidelights on
- Move away from the vehicle and do not stand between your HGV and oncoming traffic
If you breakdown in live traffic and cannot get into the left lane or exit the vehicle, then keep your seatbelt on and put on your hazard warning lights and call 999. The police will alert the National Highways team who will prepare a co-ordinated response.
Heavy goods vehicles need comprehensive insurance to ensure the vehicle is protected alongside the goods carried by the vehicle. Depending on the business you work for, you may need a non-standard and bespoke insurance policy.
ISIS Insurance offers a wide variety of insurance options and quotes, including breakdowns, that cover everything an HGV might need when it comes to insurance, from skip lorries to refrigerated vehicles.