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Insurance 101 - Commercial Auto Insurance

What Is Commercial Auto Insurance?

Commercial auto insurance covers your company cars, trucks, and vans that are used and owned by your business. It is an insurance policy that covers any medical expenses, legal costs, vehicle repairs, or property damage if one of the covered vehicles is involved in an accident. Most often, if a vehicle is used to conduct business a personal auto insurance policy will not cover physical damages or liabilities due to an accident.

Commercial Auto Insurance Quotes From Many Reputable Carriers

Everything You Need To Know About Commercial Auto Insurance

Overview

Does your business need commercial auto insurance?

If your company owns at least one vehicle or an employee uses their vehicle for business purposes, you should investigate purchasing commercial vehicle insurance. Personal auto policies are not meant for business use and lack the specific requirements of a commercial policy; this would leave business owners open to significant financial risk.

Most states have laws that require a minimum amount of car insurance coverage. Even in the states that do not, drivers are responsible for the damage they cause during an accident, which could result in significant repair, legal, and medical costs.

Speak with one of our experienced licensed agents who can help you understand which commercial auto policies best fit your business’s vehicle types and their intended use.

How much commercial auto insurance coverage do I need?

Every state has its own set of legal minimum requirements for commercial auto insurance coverage. Commercial auto insurance will often be referred to by three numbers and this is because there are minimum requirements for bodily injury liability coverage, property damage liability coverage, and uninsured motorist coverage.

For example, in Vermont, the minimum commercial auto insurance requirement for a passenger vehicle with a seating capacity of one to seven occupants is 25/50/10. These numbers represent:

  • $25,000 for bodily injury per person.
  • $50,000 for bodily injury per accident.
  • $10,000 for property damage.

These minimum requirements vary by state, vehicle type, and passenger size so it is best to speak with one of our licensed agents to learn about your fleet’s needs. Vermont’s minimum coverage requirements can be reviewed on the General Assembly website.

Coverage

What does commercial auto insurance cover?

Commercial auto insurance covers expenses and liabilities from accidents involving company-owned or operated vehicles. It can also provide coverage when a vehicle is stolen or vandalized, and for miscellaneous damage like a chipped windshield from a stray rock.

Commercial auto insurance covers:

Accident liability

When you or one of your employees cause an accident with an insured vehicle, your commercial auto insurance helps pay for any damages you caused. This can include repair costs to either vehicle or personal property within the vehicle, legal expenses, and compensation paid to persons injured if you are found legally liable.

For example, you rear-end the car in front of you on your way to a client delivery. If the accident is deemed your fault, the commercial auto policy will provide coverage to repair each vehicle and provide compensation to the injured party for their injuries (if applicable).

There is an exception to this rule in no-fault states. Laws in no-fault states require all drivers in an accident to file a claim with their own insurance carrier regardless of who is at fault. A driver in a no-fault state has insurance to cover their own damage and injuries. In these states, drivers are also required to have personal injury protection as part of their auto insurance policy.

Physical damage

You have coverage for certain causes of loss that are not related to a car crash. If a vehicle is vandalized, stolen, damaged due to certain weather, or impacted by an object, these types of losses are covered by your commercial auto insurance. This is known as comprehensive coverage.

For example, if your car is struck by a tree branch while parked you would have coverage if you purchased comprehensive coverage.

Medical costs

If your passenger is injured in an accident while in your vehicle which is insured under a commercial auto policy, they are eligible for medical payment coverage regardless of fault. An injured employee would be covered under a workers' compensation insurance policy.

For example, a construction foreman is driving between job sites and crashes into another vehicle. The operator of the other vehicle is brought to the hospital for a routine evaluation. The commercial auto insurance policy will provide coverage for the expense of the ambulance ride and further hospital bills.

Uninsured motorists

Even though car insurance is required by law in most states, there are still uninsured or underinsured drivers. If an uninsured or underinsured driver causes an accident and is unable to cover the damages, your commercial auto insurance might have to cover the expenses through the policy’s uninsured motorist coverage.

Trailers

If a company-insured vehicle is connected to a trailer and is involved in an accident, then usually it is covered under the commercial auto policy. There are scenarios where heavier or longer trailers will need special coverage.

What does commercial auto insurance NOT cover?

There are two vehicle-related scenarios that commercial auto will not cover. These are:

Leased or rented vehicles

If your company has a long-term lease or uses short-term rental services, these vehicles will not be covered under the typical commercial auto insurance policy. Usually, these vehicles will require a hired and non-owned auto policy for coverage.

Personal vehicles

Commercial auto insurance will not cover personal vehicles. If your business has employees that frequently use their personal vehicles for work-related activities, you will need a hired and non-owned auto insurance policy.

Symbols

What are commercial auto insurance symbols?

These symbols are the numbers that appear next to each line of listed coverage on a commercial auto insurance policy. They designate the types of vehicles that are protected under the policy, which ownership statuses are covered, and coverage limits.

Different types of commercial auto symbols include:

1 - Any Auto

Includes coverage on all vehicles owned, non-owned, and hired (employee vehicles used for work purposes). Does not cover no-fault damages.

2 - All Owned Autos

Covers all owned vehicles by the insured party. This also includes trailers that are attached to insured vehicles. Coverage is updated to include newly purchased vehicles as well.

3 - Owned Private Passenger Autos

Provides coverage for private passenger vehicles.

4 - Owned autos other than private passenger

Provides coverage for autos other than private passenger vehicles.

5 - All Owned Autos That Require No-Fault Coverage

Coverage for vehicles where no-fault is a legal requirement. Used for personal injury protection.

6 – Owned Auto Subject to Compulsory Underinsured Motorist Law

Coverage for vehicles when rejection of underinsured motorist is not allowed by legal requirements.

7 – Autos Specified on Schedule

Only covers vehicles that appear on the listed schedule for which a premium charge is added. This includes attached trailers to any of the mentioned vehicles.

Newly purchased autos will need to be added to the policy coverage.

8 - Hired Autos

Provides coverage to vehicles leased, rented, borrowed, or hired (employee use) by the insured. This does not include personal coverage outside of business operations.

9 - Non-Owned Autos

Applies only to non-owned, leased, or hired (employee use) vehicles by the insured that are used in business operations.

 

Each symbol will change the coverage and regulations of the vehicles covered within your commercial policy. If you need more information on how differing symbols can affect your commercial auto insurance coverage, reach out to one of our licensed insurance agents.

Costs

How much does commercial auto insurance cost?

Commercial auto policy rates can vary greatly. A retail shop that occasionally moves supplies between stores will need much less liability coverage than a fuel dealer who is driving all day while transporting hazardous materials. Some of the factors that go into the cost of a commercial auto policy are the number of vehicles, industry risk, driving records, types of vehicles, driving distance, and policy structure.

Number of vehicles and total value

The more vehicles in a commercial fleet and the higher their combined value, the more liability coverage you may need. This typically makes monthly premiums more expensive.

Industry

Some industries have more inherent driving risk than others. If your employees are driving fuel trucks, there is greater exposure to liability compared to a service consultant that occasionally drives across town to meet with a client.

Driving record

An employee’s driving record can particularly impact requirements for companies using large trucks or where special licensing is required. If multiple drivers have recent driving violations, it could impact your commercial auto insurance rates.

On the flip side, if your drivers are highly qualified and obtain special certifications to amplify those qualifications, you could receive more favorable rates.

Distance

The distance your commercial vehicles drive every day can play a part in pricing a policy. The more a fleet travels the greater the risk of an accident.

Speak with one of our licensed insurance agents to get an accurate commercial auto insurance quote >

Questions

How do I make a commercial auto insurance claim?

Most carriers have online claim reporting capabilities, or you can call their toll-free claims reporting phone number. At Winooski insurance, we are available to provide information about the claim reporting process. Our clients can rest easy knowing our experienced agents are ready to help when needed.

View a list of our partner carriers and instructions on where to file a claim with each.

Why should I get commercial auto insurance through an independent agency?

Winooski Insurance has been an independent insurance agency for almost 40-years. During this time, we have created long-term relationships with a multitude of insurance partners which allows us to present you with a broad range of coverage options at competitive rates. We’re committed to helping you address your unique requirements.

What Other Types Of Insurance Should Your Business Consider?

General Liability Insurance

Protect your business from common third-party injuries, damages, and risks.
Learn More

Commercial Property Insurance

Protect your company's property and inventory from damage or destruction.
Learn More

Workers' Compensation Insurance

If you have employees your business needs coverage of on-the-job injuries.
Learn More

What Our Customers Are Saying

The entire team at Winooski Insurance have done an outstanding job of providing insurance coverage for my company. This is not always easy, as each project has to be reviewed by Winooski Insurance to verify that we have the required coverages.

David Bogue, President
Professional Construction Inc.

David Bogue, President

I have had my company insured with Winooski insurance for more than five years now. They are a valued partner in protecting my business property, employees, and vehicles. From the top dog, Jeff Mongeon, through their entire team, they are professional and responsive.

David Evarts, President
Flooring America

David Evarts, President

The team at Winooski Insurance provides our companies with value added services to ensure we are protected from all angles. They have helped us solve a number of complex problems and their service is always friendly and quick. Winooski Insurance is a valued and important part of our team.

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Mansfield Housing Group

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