Industry Insurance

Demand for mobile plant & equipment in the current economy

Demand for mobile plant and equipment (MPE) will increase considerably over the next three to five years. But there’s a complication: disrupted global supply chains.

Demand for mobile plant and equipment (MPE) will increase considerably over the next three to five years. But there’s a complication: disrupted global supply chains.

NTI’s National Strategic Underwriter – Mobile Plant & Equipment, Gary Woodhams, explains,“Before COVID, there was a lot of transport, urban and civil infrastructure expected to be delivered. But as governments have needed to stimulate their economies, many projects have been brought forward.”

By 2024, some $49 billion of work will be under construction in the transport infrastructure sector alone. There is also considerable activity happening in the mining space. These projects create many opportunities for companies and contractors but also present challenges.

Typically, businesses source MPE from overseas. But governments worldwide are supporting their own economies through this period, meaning there is little MPE available. In short, equipment is scarce and we’re seeing an upsurge in equipment hire, meaning hire or operational businesses with underutilised assets can benefit from opportunities to provide MPE to other companies.

Operational businesses can take advantage of infrastructure pipelines to tender and win more work. The challenge is access to MPE, and if hiring – fair rates and fair hire contract conditions.

For hiring businesses, there’s an opportunity to generate income from their assets. The challenge is ensuring they can supply those assets correctly valued and adequately protected.

In both cases, the hire agreement is the critical document. It must make commercial sense for both parties, offering good value to the hirer and fair returns to the owner.

The insurance component is crucial. A good agreement will clarify who is responsible for the insurance; or, if there is a damage waiver, the types of damage or incidents covered by the owner and what must be covered by the hirer.

For the owner, retaining a lawyer to draft a standard hire agreement will be money well spent.

For the hirer, reading the agreement carefully and asking the owner directly what’s covered and what’s not is prudent. It’s also essential to understand the terms and shop around if you’re not comfortable.

Hire businesses commonly include damage waivers in their hire agreements. However, hirers need to know that a damage waiver is not an insurance policy. It’s a clause that releases the hirer from the cost of repairing or replacing damaged equipment.

However, these clauses can be restrictive by limiting the damage waiver benefit ‘to or excluding certain events’ with additional restrictions or requirements. These can be onerous and very easily expose the person hiring the equipment to an expensive uninsured financial loss, as Gary explains: “We sometimes see clients who think a damage waiver is insurance. I’ll give an example: a client hires in a conditionally registered excavator for five days. They pay an extra $700 for a damage waiver.

“The excavator is tracking on the road and slews around. The dipper arm comes to a stop inside a passing BMW. The damage waiver covers any damage to the excavator – but not to the car.”

That’s why if you are hiring mobile plant and equipment, it’s essential to know your terms and be sure you understand what your hire agreement covers.

“For the owner, hiring is a great way to expand your business’s capabilities or generate extra revenue,” Gary says.

“However, not spending the money to have a lawyer experienced in crafting hire agreements for the mobile plant hire industry is a false economy.

“Not obtaining the correct insurance cover and extensions is also a false economy.

“The cost means nothing compared to what a claim or prolonged dispute could be worth.”

As always, it’s worthwhile for both owners and hirers to obtain the right advice and the right insurance. Speak to your lawyer and your insurance broker. Contact us today if you’d like to know more.

Want more insight from Australia’s leader in heavy vehicle, mobile plant and equipment insurance? Visit NTI’s Yellow Cover at

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