Insurance company warns renters to be more vigilant

By Murray Pollok22 September 2009

One of Europe's largest insurance companies, RSA (formerly Royal Sun Alliance), is warning equipment rental companies to be more vigilant against the threat of plant theft and criminal fraud.

RSA has issued a rules ‘checklist' for UK-based rental companies to follow to minimise the risks of equipment theft:

On all rental contracts
- Retain a signed copy of the hire agreement
- Obtain photo-identity in the form of a driving licence or passport, take and retain copies
- Seek proof of identity in the form of letter headed stationery or a utility bill and retain copies

Rentals where a credit agreement has been established
- Obtain a bank or trade reference which is followed up and retained
- Ensure a standard credit account application is completed and retain

Rentals where a credit agreement has not been established
-Only accept payment by credit or debit card

David Swigciski, regional trading leader for construction, power and engineering at RSA, said; "Plant hire companies must start carrying out more stringent checks before loaning out equipment.

"The reality is that fraudulent plant hire adds a significant amount to overall claim costs for contractors plant and it's the honest policyholders who are the true victims as costs are recovered through higher premiums. It is therefore in everyone's interest to comply with plant hire companies' checks before hiring out equipment."

RSA said there was a noticeable trend for criminals to rent equipment to fake sites. Once delivered the people and equipment vanish, with the stolen plant often exported to avoid detection.

Equipment owners, said RSA, would also increase their chances of recovering stolen equipment by registering it with the UK's CESAR (Construction Equipment Security And Registration) scheme. "Early indications are that CESAR registered plant is up to six times more likely to be recovered than non-CESAR registered items", said RSA.

Meanwhile, The National Plant & Equipment Register (TER), in its 2009 Equipment Theft Report, said that the most commonly stolen items in the UK in 2008 were trailers (911 thefts), excavators (849), site dumpers (244) and telehandlers (202).

TER said the biggest increases were seen in thefts of agricultural tractors (up 149%), quad bikes (up 83%), forklift trucks (+67%) and portable generators (+55%).

"The used equipment trade is like a huge money laundering machine where criminals push stolen equipment into the trade at one end and get clean cash out at the other", said TER manager, Tim Purbrick, "Serious organised criminals probably make more money out of equipment theft for far less risk than they do from smuggling drugs."

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