If you own a vehicle, you already have a pretty good understanding of the importance of auto insurance in Florida. But as a business owner, you also need to understand the many ways that personal and commercial auto insurance differ.
While both types of insurance are designed to cover injury, property damage, and/or legal expenses related to a car accident, they are not interchangeable.
Before you purchase auto insurance coverage, it’s crucial to make sure that you’re getting a policy that will actually protect you. Let’s break down the differences between personal vs. commercial auto insurance to help you discover which one is right for you.
Personal Auto Insurance
When you first get behind the wheel as a licensed driver, you need some form of auto insurance to protect yourself and others from the consequences of an accident.
In Florida, State law requires that all drivers have a minimum of $10,000 of personal injury protection (PIP) coverage and $10,000 of property damage liability (PDL). Together, these two coverages pay the medical expenses for you (and any passengers) as well as property damage that you cause to someone else.
If you want to cover injuries caused to a third party or repairs to your own vehicle, you can purchase additional coverages, such as bodily injury liability insurance, uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage, or comprehensive and collision insurance.
Commercial Auto Insurance
Commercial auto coverages do not differ greatly from personal auto policies. Both are required to carry $10,000 of PIP and PDL coverage, and additional property and liability coverages are available for more comprehensive coverage.
However, commercial vehicle insurance is specially designed to meet the needs of business owners. Regularly meeting with clients, transporting goods or people, or driving between work locations exposes business vehicles to a lot more risks than your personal sedan (which may be used for a daily commute and occasional errands).
As a result, commercial auto insurance typically has higher coverage limits than a personal one. Commercial coverage may also be tax-deductible.
Another thing to consider is the type of vehicle you’re insuring. Construction vehicles, food trucks, 18-wheelers, tractors, and other large vehicles will not be eligible for a personal auto policy.
However, real-life accidents are rarely this cut-and-dry. Trouble and confusion can arise when the line between “commercial” and “personal” vehicles is muddled. For situations like this, you may need a different type of coverage.
Businesses who rent, lease, or borrow a vehicle may want to consider hired and non-owned auto (HNOA) insurance. HNOA also provides coverage for employees who use their personal vehicles for business, as their personal auto insurance likely will not cover them.
Is Commercial Auto Insurance Necessary?
If you use a vehicle in the regular course of work, there’s a good chance that commercial auto insurance is absolutely necessary—mainly because personal auto policies do not cover losses that occurred during business use.
Remember that business vehicles tend to be on the road a lot more often than personal ones, which exposes them to a lot more risk. Insuring a business vehicle with a personal policy is essentially “cheating the system.”
If you are then involved in an accident, you run the risk of your claim being denied for not carrying the proper insurance. And if you are sued for damages by an injured third party, the results could be financially devastating.
There’s a good chance you need commercial auto insurance if:
- Your business owns the vehicle(s);
- You have a fleet of vehicles;
- The vehicle weighs more than 5 tons or can haul a 1-ton load;
- Employees will be driving the vehicle;
- The vehicle is used to perform work duties;
- You want to protect your business with higher coverage limits.
Having the right protection for personal and commercial vehicles is vital, but the rules aren’t always cut-and-dry.
If you’re still unsure about the differences between personal and commercial auto insurance, speak to an independent insurance agent about your options.
Here at Darr Schackow Insurance, our friendly staff has the knowledge, experience, and resources available to guide you toward the coverage that will best protect you. And because we are not limited to policies by a single company, you get to choose from a wide variety of coverage and price options.
Call today for a free car insurance quote.