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Posted March 25, 2003 

The Transport / Escort Question?
By Danny H. Behymer
Director of Operations,
USA Guides

The parents have done their research; they have worked closely with the counselors, pondered over their children and their welfare, and hoped that they have made the right decision to seek professional help for their child. The parents are relying on the counselor and school to give them the guidance they need. They may also be relying on the recommendation of an educational consultant, who has the training, has visited schools, and has conducted the interviews and tours. As a result of the parents’ research, sometimes they decide to use a professional transport company to help their resistant child safely arrive at the next school or program.

Has the same research been conducted on the transport company as has been done on the School?

There are well over twenty transport companies all across the country from which to choose. Some are run from home offices as a family business and others from commercial offices as corporations. Both can be good choices.

What is important is their experience and professionalism, and there are some the main points to consider when determining what is a reputable and professional transport / escort company. It is easy to sometimes overlook simple details that are often taken for granted. For example: what business background do the principals of the company have; do they have any prior experience; and, what is their training and their ability to train others?

Then, there is the staffing: are the people who actually conduct the transport trained, and in a comprehensive ongoing training program? Training at a minimum should consist of a combination of both classroom training, and on the job training with an experienced individual who has completed at least twenty transports and is at least 25 years old. While there is no industry standard or legal requirement, common sense and experience has shown this to be effective and historically has proven to be successful. Each company may have their own effective approach; the real question is what experience does the company have, and what training do they provide their staff?

There are several training programs available to transport companies that have highly successful results such as the “Mandt” system, the Crisis Prevention Institute system, and the P.A.R.T. method, all based upon solid education and continual training programs that are easily accessible to any transport company. It is important to choose a company that utilizes some well-known, established training method.

We live in a highly litigious society, yet the need for liability insurance is commonly overlooked. We all know that regardless of whether a lawsuit is based on fact and has validity, or is completely frivolous, all who can be named will be named; it is a common practice of the legal community to find all the pockets they can. The following considerations are dependent upon the individual states’ insurance regulations and the individual insurance companies.

According to my survey of five large national insurance companies and three law firms in different states, they all agreed that: if the general or professional liability insurance is not specifically written for, with a binder stating, that the policy covers the transport/escort of individuals (teens /adolescents), then they are not properly covered. Without the specific language and binder, in essence transport professionals have no real protection against liability claims that may be uniquely associated with the transport, such as alleged injury, neglect, or physical and/or sexual abuse. The insurance that many transport companies have is in reality designed for more of a retail type establishment where someone trips and falls, and not that of a transport company moving a teen across country.

Also, it is important that the individuals who are actually conducting the transport are employees and not independent contractors. Independent contractors are required to provide their own insurance and are more than likely are not covered by the employing company’s insurance! Make sure that whatever company is used has a staff who preferably are employees, not independent contractors, and have the correct liability insurance. The reason that the majority of transport companies do not have the correct insurance is two fold. The first reason is cost; having the binder added to specifically cover the transport of a teen or adolescent will increase their premiums two to three times that of plain vanilla liability insurance. Secondly, such exclusive coverage is very difficult to obtain and will require the transport company to undergo a rather exhaustive background investigation by the insurance company. If the company is not at 100% competency and possess a comprehensive training and business plan, they will not receive the coverage. This alone is probably the best major indicator of the professionalism of a transport/escort company.

If you are a consultant who uses a company on a regular basis, then ask them about listing you as a co-insured on their insurance; you can never have enough protection. If the company is run professionally, then they should have no problem with this request.

When conducting research for this article for instance, one escort company thought to be reputable and well established was found to be operating without a business license for the past five years! Because they had existed for over ten years, no one thought to check on them to see if they had a valid business license, or liability insurance. The frightening thing is they are still operating with a staff of over 15 independent contractors, none of whom have individual liability insurance. They are a law suit in the making just waiting for the right catalyst. If nothing else, the existence of situations like this will hopefully bring about some regulation to the transport/escort industry.

There is no real current regulation in the transport industry other than the state of California, which has the Trust Line Registry. Here is an excerpt from the law in California:

California Health & Safety code section 1596.653 which outlines criminal liability for non compliance.

“All employment agencies (nanny and baby-sitter placement agencies) are required by law to register their caregivers with TrustLine upon placement. Transport Escort Services also are required by law to register the individual(s) transporting or accompanying the minor with TrustLine. Transport Escort Services transport minors across state lines to residential facilities with permission from the minor's parents or legal guardian.”

Basically the law outlines the requirement that the individual, not the company, is to complete the registration process. It is very important that the company has complied with this process each time they go into the state of California. If they have not registered, they are violating the law! This is a direct reflection on the consultant, in the eyes of the parents, should a problem arise.

Other points to consider in choosing your transport company;

  • Do they have a well written “permission form” for the parents or guardians to sign?
  • Are they willing to disclose their pricing structure and give the
    parents a written cost estimate prior to any transports taking
  • Do they always work in teams of two and have a female present whenever transporting a female teen?
  • Are the managers of the company willing to come and meet with
    you at any time so that you can have the opportunity to develop a
    one on one relationship with them?
  • Are they easy to contact by a national toll free phone line and
    email, what is their response time to calls and emails, (a good
    indicator on how responsive they are to parents.)
  • Do they have a well designed and informative website?
  • Can they respond the same day to urgent requests?
  • Do they have employees in multiple states, and do they have
    multilingual capability?
  • Ask to see their reports regarding the transport, and internal
    record keeping capabilities; can they produce professional reports
    and statistical data?
  • Do they have any special software program or use technology to
    enhance their abilities?
  • Does the staff have any special training such as first aid or CPR?

Asking a few questions about experience, training, business practices, employees, and insurance will only take a short time and it will give you an excellent indication if you have chosen professionals to represent you.

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