I was just talking with the owner of a local real estate agency this week and reviewing their insurance portfolio when he asked “So sometimes I let my employees drive my vehicle when they need a truck to haul things, is that ok to leave my truck on my personal auto policy?”
The answer is, a very firm, NO and illustrates one of the most common gaps that business owners leave in their insurance armor. I quickly advised my client that he needed to get that vehicle onto a Commercial Auto Insurance policy ASAP and not to let any employees drive until we do this. There are several different scenarios involving businesses and auto insurance when knowing what you need, or having an agent you trust is, invaluable!
7 Scenarios When You May or May Not Need Business Auto Insurance
Let’s break down a few scenarios to discover more about when you should have a Business Auto Policy as well as when you may not need one.
I definitely need a Business Auto policy when:
- I have employees or subcontractors that drive your vehicle
- The title of my vehicle is in my business name.
- My business involves the pick-up and delivery of food, goods or people
- My vehicle weighs more than 12,000 lbs.
I should consider a Business Auto policy when:
- I have employees that occasionally drive their own vehicles for work- Just because your employees don’t drive your vehicle does not mean that you cannot be found liable if they get into an accident in their car while on the clock. There is a special coverage called Non-owned Auto that can be added to your Business Auto policy or your Business Owners policy to cover you in this scenario.
- My vehicle is a billboard ad for my company- Even if you are the only person that drives your vehicle, if you have your logo and advertising on it, it is wise to have a Business Auto policy for the increase liability protection it provides.
I likely don’t need a Business Auto policy when:
- I use my vehicle for work but I don’t fit any of the examples above. A good example would be a Realtor or Insurance Agent. We drive to show houses and visit clients but don’t allow others to drive our vehicles and generally don’t have logos on them. In these cases, most likely, you can simply classify your vehicle as business use on your Personal Auto policy. Talk to your agent for additional information on your specific circumstance.
Business Auto Insurance vs. Personal Auto Insurance
Now you know when you need a business auto insurance policy, but you may still be wondering what the difference is between business auto insurance and personal auto insurance policies. Here are 3 quick facts that you need to be aware of when considering auto insurance for your business.
- Personal Auto Insurance policies specifically exclude coverage when your vehicle is being driven by an employee.
- Personal Auto Policies exclude coverage when your vehicle is used “for hire” such as pizza delivery, ride-share, etc.
- Business Auto Policies don’t automatically cover your employee using their vehicle to do errands for the business.
In the scenario described earlier, if an employee were to get into an accident in the owners vehicle, his insurance company could deny coverage. With no coverage from the insurance company, the owner’s assets would now be at risk in any ensuing injury lawsuits.
Some policies now have the ability to add that coverage on but you’d need to talk to your agent to check your options. Some ride-share companies will tell their drivers that they are covered under a master policy. While technically this may be true, there are some gaps you need to know. Best to call your agent (or us) and learn more about your specific situation.
Have someone who runs by the post office, bank or grocery store for “the office”? You need to make sure your business auto policy has proper coverage for that. If you ask an employee to do an errand in their own vehicle on behalf of the company, you’ll need to make sure the proper coverage exists. Going to rent a van and take your team out to the ballgame? Again, time to check your policy, rented vehicles are not always automatically covered.
If you aren’t sure whether you need a Business Auto policy or not the best thing to do is to talk to a knowledgeable insurance agent. They can better address your specific scenario and help you understand your risks and options. Additionally, participating in reviews with your agent will help reduce or even eliminate gaps in your protection. We are happy to do policy and coverage reviews – Not a client of PNW? No problem, we are still happy to help and take a look! Contact your local and independent insurance agents today!