Commercial Auto Insurance

Click on a question below to see the answer:

Will my personal auto insurance policy cover my business vehicles?

No, Personal auto insurance policies restrict the use of personal insurance for vehicles used strictly for business reasons. Personal auto insurance policies will have an amendment that makes it void when you use the same car with different drivers for commercial purposes. If you make deliveries, transport clients, drive to meetings, or conduct other business tasks, you need to extend your auto insurance coverage for business use. This is because if an accident were to occur while you are conducting business duties, your personal policy may not provide coverage. Also, commercial auto insurance typically includes more liability than your personal policy, therefore covering any number of vehicle and drivers.

What are the differences between personal and commercial auto insurance policies?

There are many differences between commercial and personal auto insurance, but the main differences lay in the amounts that are covered. Aside from having a higher liability coverage, commercial car insurance includes:

  • Auto Liability: This coverage extends to all business-related vehicles-even to any vehicles that are recently purchased. This includes hired and non-owned vehicles as well.
  • Trailer Insurance: This sector of insurance covers non-owned trailers rented under a “trailer exchange” agreement.
  • Rental Reimbursement: This coverage helps cover the costs of replacing an inoperable commercial vehicle.
  • Deductible Options: This coverage extends to cover other business related items-like tools and other storage items-lost in an accident.
  • Individual Insured Coverage: This extends your commercial coverage to protect you when you drive a vehicle you do not own.
  • Non Owned Vehicle Coverage: Protects you and your employees while driving vehicles not owned by the business.

Why do you need to protect your business with commercial auto insurance?

If you own a business, don’t wait until something happens or procrastinate about insuring your commercial vehicle(s). Having commercial auto insurance protects you and your business from the dangers that lurk ahead.

  • Accidents Happen: If you own a business with employees and company vehicles, you are exposed to multiple dangers every single day. If you or your employees have an accident and you’re at fault, you could pay the expenses out of pocket for a long time. People have accidents frequently, so if they occur in your company vehicle and you don’t have adequate or no insurance, you will have to pay for medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other expenses out of your own pocket.
  • It Only Takes One Time: It only takes one accident to put your business at risk. If your company is sued, even winning a lawsuit can easily put you out of business because the amount of money spent to defend your business in court can total to great amounts.
  • Losses Can Be Out Of Your Control: Losses from theft, robbery, national disasters, and other accidents cannot be controlled. These accidents can bankrupt your business if you don’t have adequate insurance, therefore not replacing what is lost.
  • Other Parties Involved: Let’s say that one of your company vehicles got totaled in a crash and the other person involved caused the accident. Their auto policy, if they even have one, may not cover or have enough coverage to compensate you for the income you lost in the accident. It is important to be covered by a commercial auto insurance policy in these situations because it will cover damages inflicted by another party if their insurance in nonexistent or not enough.

What will happen if you don’t have commercial auto insurance for my business?

There are many risks involved if you commercial auto in insurance is absent when you are running a business with business related vehicles. A business auto policy can protect your business and its employees from financial losses resulting from an accident or other mishap.

  • Sued By Injured Parties: A cheap auto insurance policy or a nonexistent policy could mean that your policy will only cover a fraction of the injured party’s medical bill and other repairs. This means the likelihood of your business being sued will be very great than if you had a full coverage insurance plan.
  • Company Could Be Breaking The Law: Having no commercial insurance or being underinsured poses huge risks for your company. Most states have minimum requirements for commercial auto insurance that businesses must meet. Commercial auto insurance requirements vary across state lines, so it is important to contact your closest DMV to get a breakdown of commercial vehicle insurance requirements.
  • Risking Business Investments: If a business has a minimum insurance policy, their investments are at risk because cheap insurance policies will not pay or fully cover vehicle damages or employee medical records when a business owner or employer is at fault. If you are not fully covered, total damages from an accident can be left up to the business to pay for.

What type of businesses need a commercial auto policy?

Commercial auto insurance is available to all types of businesses. This includes corporations as well as family-owned businesses. Coverage is mandatory for any company where driving a company owned vehicle or transporting people from place to place is common. This includes bus and taxi services. Coverage is also mandatory from contractor and plumbing businesses that drive a vehicle from jobsite to jobsite.

Below a table provided by the WRCOG, known as the “Western Riverside Council of Governments” displays the most common types of businesses that use commercial auto insurance and the vehicle types and classes they are most likely associated with:

Class 1-2 Autos, Vans, Minivans, Pickups Class 2-3 Pickups, Vans, Flatbeds, & Misc. Class 2-6 Mixed Fleets Class 2-8 Mixed Fleets
Burglar Alarms Appliance Repair Drilling Concrete & Plumbing
Caterers Carpentry Fencing Crane & Rigging
Chimney Sweeps Carpeting Septic/Sewer Service Demolition
Janitorial Counter Top & Kitchen Signs & Awnings Excavation
Locksmithing Electrical & Lighting Steel Fabrication Fire Departments
Office Equipment Services Flooring Telecommunications Heavy Construction
Window Washers Gardening Towing Highway (Caltrans)
Housecleaning Glass Tree Services Paving
HVAC Public Works Utilities
Insulation Other Contractors
Masonry & Tile
Mechanical & Refrigeration
Pest Control
Pool Services
Roofing & Gutters
Sweeping Service

Do all businesses need a commercial auto policy?

Depending on your profession, there can be circumstances where you may not need a commercial insurance policy. Some forms of business do not require a commercial insurance policy and still use a personal insurance policy. Some of these businesses that are covered under a personal auto policy are as followed:

  • Businesses such as independent beauty consultants do not always require a commercial insurance policy if it is a part time position. If it turns out to be full-time, or if you are driving over 100 miles a day, you may want to look into a commercial auto policy.
  • Social workers, home health aid workers, doctors, lawyers, accountants and consultants can be covered under their personal policy because they do not regularly transport people.
  • If you deliver newspapers, pizza, food, or other types of product in your vehicle, you may need to insure it with a commercial auto policy because a personal auto policy may not cover an accident or loss while on the job.

Which factors are examined to determine premium amounts?

Different vehicles used for business purposes require specific insurance policies. Commercial auto insurance may differentiate across state lines by weight of the vehicle and type of the vehicle, with the cost of insurance depending on these classifications. The other determining factors which contribute to the price of commercial auto insurance include:

  • Business location
  • The number of people allowed to operate the vehicle
  • The age and driving record of individuals allowed to operate the vehicle
  • The driving record of the vehicles owner

What if I have a seasonal business? Do I still need commercial auto insurance during the months my business isn’t in operation?

Yes. If you have a seasonal business, don’t cancel your insurance during the months your business isn’t in operation. If you cancel your commercial insurance plan, your stored vehicles won’t be protected against vandalism, theft, severe weather conditions, and anything else that may be harmful to your vehicle during the off season. If you drop your commercial auto insurance completely, it is likely you will pay more to get a new policy when your business is in season because more commercial insurance companies want to see proof of continuous coverage.

In general, if your business vehicle is used more than three times a month for company purposes, it is considered a commercial vehicle. Using your vehicle for company purposes such as visiting clients near your business or surrounding cities, or carrying equipment or people to a job site qualifies your vehicle for commercial auto insurance. If your vehicle(s) fall under this category, it is crucial to get the proper form of commercial auto insurance.

How can I lower premium costs?

  • Business Location: The geographic region in which your business operates affects premiums. For example, areas prone to extreme weather with hail, windstorms, and hurricanes may have higher premium rates. Living in a congested area such as a moderately sized city with higher traffic patterns can also affect your premium rate. Premiums for theft depend on if your business is in a safe or dangerous location. If possible, choose an area where crime rates are low or nonexistent.
  • Parking: Where you park your vehicle can impact premiums. If you have access to an indoor garage or locked parking lot-in areas that decrease the likelihood of theft, may qualify for lower premiums.
  • Claims: The number of claims you have previously filed can impact the cost.
  • Driver Records: Prior to employment, make sure you hire drivers that have a qualified driver’s license with a clean driving record.
  • Choice Of Vehicle: Employees may want to drive a fancy sports car or pickup truck, but five-star safety rated, domestic, mid-sized vehicles have the lowest premiums.
  • Deductibles: Can your business afford and maintain a high deductible? If so, your premiums will be lower.
  • Safety and Anti-Theft Devices: Alarms, GPS tracking devices, air bags, seat belts, and other safety devices can significantly lower premiums.

What do I need to get a commercial auto insurance quote? What should I have prepared before calling an agent?

Commercial can insurance is tailored to your individual business needs to help protect your business, your employees, your vehicles, and other assets which come with owning a business. It doesn’t matter if it is the first time you are purchasing commercial auto insurance. You can always refer to a previous insurance policy for a start up for a commercial auto insurance quote.

  • A list containing the history or if you have a current insurance policy at the moment, whether it’s a commercial or personal insurance policy. Providing your insurance history and proof of continuous coverage could instantly save you money on future insurance premiums.
  • If you are able to provide driver’s license numbers and driving history for your employees, your insurance company will be able to view their driving records on file with your state’s department of motor vehicles.
  • Provide a history of any accidents or traffic violations (which include speeding tickets) for each driver. Telling your commercial insurance agent everything you know about prior driving records will help them determine a correct quote. Unfortunately, if your drivers have a bad driving record, the quote price may be subject to change.
  • Provide your commercial insurance agent with the VIN numbers of each vehicle you want to insure. Depending on the maker of your car, VIN numbers are typically located below the front windshield in the bottom left hand corner. If you cannot find the VIN numbers, in the meantime you can provide the make, model, and year of each vehicle you want to insure.

Are there certain business’s that commercial auto insurance companies do no insure?

The amount of coverage or if coverage is even offered at all differentiates across commercial auto insurance companies. While one commercial auto company may offer coverage, another insurance company may not offer anything at all. It is up to the customer to shop around and find the best commercial auto company that fits best to their needs. Some businesses that may be tough to get a policy are as followed:

  • Car rental companies.
  • Truckers leasing vehicles to an unlisted 3rd party.

Should I buy the policy with the cheapest rates?

Not necessarily. In addition to the price, other factors you should consider when shopping for a commercial insurance policy is the company’s customer service record and its financial strength rating. These are important factors to pay attention to because you want a company that is financially stable and will be able to cover expenses if you have an accident.