Sentry Insurance’s Tips for Proactive Service Practices

Q: How should my dealership approach our service practices to help reduce our liability exposure?

A: Your customers will likely expect you, as a dealer, to provide professional action beyond the services they request. Because of your professional and technical expertise, juries may also consider it your responsibility to alert and warn your customers of issues they might not identify on their own. With that in mind, we encourage you to take the following steps:

Repairing customer equipment:

▶ Document service orders with reported symptoms and requested services (including employee name/date).

▶ Perform a basic post-service inspection of all serviced equipment to identify and document openly visible mechanical conditions that could be hazardous. If you identify such conditions, document the service order accordingly and discuss with the customer before releasing the equipment. If the customer waives recommended repairs, require a signature acknowledging your recommended action.

▶ Review all serviced equipment for any recalls, and document the service order with any findings. Discuss outstanding recalls with the customer before releasing the equipment, and offer to complete the recall work (being sure to document any refusal if declined).

When trading for or selling used equipment:

▶ Provide operator manuals, safety signs and warnings, guards, and other originally manufactured items.

▶ Adjust each unit’s value based on market value and the availability of safety equipment. Your service department should also function-test the unit to identify operational aspects needing repair.

▶ Research product upgrades announced by the manufacturer, and upgrade equipment as needed.

▶ Document any upgrades you make (or recommend making), along with any customer refusal to purchase these upgrades. We recommend you make all required safety improvements before the sale.

We’re committed to helping protect your business by offering resources to manage loss-producing situations. Your customers rely on you to provide safe, reliable services—and you can trust us to help you meet those expectations. You can find additional resources at

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