NORMA O. SIERRA
Do You Need Commercial Auto Insurance for Your Small Business?
Why Do You Need Commercial Auto Insurance?
1. Personal Auto Insurance Doesn’t Cover Business Use
Take a minute to actually read your personal insurance policy, paying close attention to the page about exclusions. You’ll likely notice that it explicitly excludes coverage for business use — most personal auto policies do. A commercial auto exclusion prohibits the use of a vehicle by someone employed or engaged in a business other than farming or ranching. While the commercial auto exclusion is open for interpretation, check with your carrier before you make an assumption about what your personal policy does and doesn’t cover.
If you or an employee is involved in accident while driving your car for business purposes, your claim could be invalidated and you could end up paying out of pocket for physical and bodily damages. The same situation holds true if an employee uses his or her own car (and personal car insurance coverage) to run errands on behalf of your business.
2. Personal Auto Policies May Lack Coverages Your Business Needs
Often the liability limits on a personal auto policy are inadequate for business use. For example, the typical liability limit for a personal policy is $500,000, but twice that for the average commercial auto policy. Personal policies also provide very limited coverage for vehicles you don’t own including rentals. But you can buy commercial auto insurance that includes broad coverage for hired and non-owned vehicles, and it can also cover loss of use expenses and transportation expenses while your vehicle is in the repair shop.
3. Personal Auto Policies May Not Cover Other Drivers Using Your Vehicle To Conduct Your Business.
If you or an employee is in an accident while driving your car or his own for your business, it could invalidate your claim and you could end up paying for damages and injuries out of your own pocket.
Here are two bonus reasons to consider buying commercial auto coverage:
it’s a business deduction.
lying to an insurance company about how you use your personal vehicle on an application or claim is fraud.
Your claim could be denied, your policy could be canceled and you could end up in a database as a bad risk.
What Does Commercial Auto Insurance Cover?
Commercial auto insurance covers personal injury, vehicle and property damage and liability protection. It can protect a business in the event of:
Death or injury of drivers due to an on-the-job collision
Injury to others during a collision while on the job
Damage to others’ property or vehicles caused by you or your employees
Damage or loss to business vehicles
Damage or loss to cargo
Uninsured motorist protection
Depending on your particular business, you may need to add on policies to provide enhanced coverage for employees or people who work for you, equipment coverage, and liability to protect assets in case your business is sued.
Types of Vehicles that Need Commercial Auto Insurance
Vehicles considered commercial vary from typical vehicles like cars, pickup trucks and sports utility vehicles to limousines and taxis to trucks like semis, utility vans, flatbeds and dump trucks.
Some examples of vehicles and purposes you need commercial insurance for include:
Delivery and pickup of goods
Any vehicle that is registered or owned by a business
Vehicles that are rented or leased to people
What Is Your Commercial Auto Insurance Options
There are two kinds of auto insurance policies for businesses:
Commercial auto insurance – If you or your employees use a vehicle owned by the business for commercial reasons (usually for 50% or more of the time), you need commercial auto insurance. It will pay to repair or replace a vehicle damaged in an accident, as well as any third-party injury claims.
Non-owned car liability coverage – If you or your employees occasionally use personally-owned vehicles for business reasons, consider purchasing non-owned car liability insurance.