If you run a business that uses vehicles for its operation, you may need to have a commercial car insurance policy. Also, if you use your personal car for business purposes—reasons beyond commuting to work, running errands, or taking road trips—then commercial coverage may be in order.
What Is Commercial Car Insurance?
While commercial car insurance is similar to personal car insurance in many ways, it’s designed specifically for vehicles that are used by or for a business. This can include vehicles that you buy for a business you own and personal vehicles you use for business.
For example, commercial car insurance can cover:
- Delivery trucks or vans
- Work vans
- Dump trucks
- Forklifts or other construction vehicles
- Food trucks
- Service utility trucks
- Box trucks
- Company cars
Commercial car insurance can offer both liability coverage and collision coverage for business vehicles and their drivers. The former helps pay for repairs and/or medical costs for the other driver if you’re involved in an accident. The latter pays for repairs or medical costs that you incur for yourself or your vehicle if you’re involved in an accident.
One plus of having commercial car insurance for your business is that your premiums are typically tax deductible. You can write them off as a business expense, potentially reducing what you owe in taxes for the year. Personal car insurance premiums generally aren’t tax deductible unless you’re using the vehicle for business purposes. Even then, you may not be able to write off the full premium amount paid.
How Commercial Car Insurance Works
Commercial car insurance is designed for scenarios that are specific to a business and its needs. For example, you may need to have nonowned vehicle coverage as part of your policy if you have employees who drive company cars or trucks. If you’re self-employed and drive your vehicle exclusively for business, then you’d need a commercial policy that covers it.
Again, commercial car insurance can include coverage for both liability and collision damage. Your liability coverage limits may be higher than what you’d typically get with a personal insurance policy. That’s a good thing if you’re worried about your business being sued because of an accident involving yourself or one of your employees.
Aside from liability and collision benefits, commercial car insurance can also include coverage for things such as:
- Medical payments or personal injury claims resulting from an accident
- Damage related to theft, vandalism, falling objects, or weather events
- Damages caused by uninsured or underinsured drivers
- Trailers that are used in conjunction with business vehicles
- Rental vehicle costs if you need to rent a temporary replacement vehicle for your business
- Rental vehicles used to transport employees or clients
- Employee vehicles that are used for business purposes
Your policy may also cover items inside business vehicles as well. For example, say you run a contracting business and transport tools or supplies in your work vans. If the contents of the van are stolen, that may be covered under your commercial car insurance policy.
Who Needs Commercial Car Insurance?
If you run a business that relies on business vehicles to operate, then you likely need to have commercial car insurance to cover them. However, determining whether you need commercial coverage if you’re self-employed or run a business as a sole proprietor can be a bit trickier.
When weighing a commercial policy as a sole proprietor, consider the following:
- What coverage your personal car insurance policy offers
- How you typically use the vehicle for business
- The vehicle type and weight
- What kind of liability coverage you have with your personal policy vs. the amount of coverage you need based on business activity
If you have personal car insurance already and are unsure about whether you need commercial coverage, an insurance agent should be able to help you. Just be prepared to explain how you use the vehicle for business and how often, so the agent can accurately assess what you need for coverage.
How Much Does Commercial Car Insurance Cost?
Commercial car insurance costs can vary based on a number of factors, including the amount of coverage you have, the number of vehicles covered, and the type of vehicles your business operates. According to the business insurance advice website Insureon.com, the median cost for commercial car insurance is $142 per month or $1,704 per year, assuming a $1 million policy limit.
That, however, is a median figure, and your costs could be higher or lower, depending on your industry’s risk profile, who’s driving the vehicles, and what’s included in your policy. For example, if you operate a high-risk business, your premium costs could end up being higher as a result. On the other hand, if your business is lower risk, then you may pay well below the median for commercial coverage.
When comparing costs for commercial car insurance, be sure to ask the insurance company if there are any discounts available. For example, if you’re insuring a fleet of 10 vehicles, the insurance company may be willing to cut you a break on premiums, which could help save your business money.
How to Compare Commercial Car Insurance Providers
If commercial car insurance is something your business needs, take time to research different policy options before buying in.
When comparing policies, consider things such as:
- Basic coverage options for liability and collision
- Add-on coverage options for trailers or rental vehicles
- Minimum and maximum policy limits
- Covered vehicle types
- Insurance premiums
- Deductible amounts
- Premium discounts
If you already have personal car insurance, you may start with your current insurance company to see if it also offers commercial policies. As an existing customer, you may be able to negotiate a discount on commercial coverage. And it may be easier to have your policies in one place versus working with multiple insurers when you’re busy managing day-to-day business operations.