Get the right insurance for your trucks—and save money, too
Five things you should consider before your next renewal
By Andy Fulford, product manager, Progressive
Your vehicle insurance could be as much as 40 percent of your total operating budget. A Regular policy review is essential in making sure you have the right insurance for your truck—and your business. Plus, you could save big buck if you qualify for additional discounts.
To get started, ask yourself these five questions—then give your local agent a call.
- Are all of my employees covered when they drive my trucks, even if they’re not listed on my policy?
You should always list employees who regularly drive your vehicles. Ask your insurance company if it covers temporary drivers as long as they have your permission to operate the vehicle.Some insurance companies will only cover drivers who are named on the policy. So, if you regularly employ temporary workers, you need to call your insurer and add them to the policy every time they drive to ensure they’ll be covered in an accident. Permissive use policies don’t require you to add temporary workers.
- Will my policy pay to repair my employees’ personal vehicles if they get into an accident while running a business errand?
If you often send employees on business errands in their personal cars or trucks, or, if you use rental vehicles, consider adding optional coverages to your policy to protect those vehicles. In many cases, a standard commercial auto insurance policy won’t cover damages in case of an accident. Your agent or insurance company can walk you through all of your options.
- Should I maintain my policy during the off-season if I’m not using my truck?
When the season’s over, consider switching to Comprehensive-only coverage instead of canceling your policy altogether. This coverage protects your vehicles against incidents like vandalism or hail that can happen when they’re sitting for long periods during the off-season. If you do decide to cancel your Liability insurance, check with the Department of Motor Vehicles first. There may be some additional steps you need to take to comply with the insurance laws in your state.
- How quickly does my insurance company resolve claims?
Find out how long, on average, it takes your insurer to resolve claims. The faster they take care of your claim, the faster you can get back to work. Also, ask if your insurance will cover a rental vehicle or provide downtime payments. That way, if your truck’s out of commission, your business will stay profitable.
- What can I do to control my insurance expenses?
Discounts can make a big difference, especially with commercial insurance. Progressive offers several, like an experienced business owner discount and a discount if you have a General Liability or Business Owner’s Policy. Other ways that you can save include increasing your deductibles and paying your premium in full.
Protect your business in three easy steps
A business is only as safe as the tools it uses. One of the best tools a business can use to protect its assets is commercial auto insurance.
Understanding insurance can be tricky. One of the first steps toward making an informed decision is to understand coverage and service options. Here are three easy steps to help figure out your commercial auto insurance needs:
1. Choose an insurer with the right combination of price and service. Insurance isn’t just about price. It’s about service, too. How are claims handled? How long will it take to get your vehicle back on the road? Can you get questions answered outside of business hours or online? Know the answers to these questions. Your time is money.
2. Research your policy options. Having the right coverage is important. A standard commercial auto policy generally includes coverage for:
- injuries or damage that you cause;
- your driver’s injuries;
- injuries and damages caused by uninsured or underinsured drivers; and
- damage to or theft of your vehicle(s).
When it comes to damage that you cause, you may be required to purchase certain limits based on who you work for. For instance, if you work for certain home builders, you may be required to carry $1 million in liability limits. Consider how much you are willing to pay out of pocket if your liability in an accident is more than your policy limits.
3. Know how the policy is priced. You can control your insurance costs. To get the best rates, run motor vehicle reports on potential drivers. If you let your insurance lapse, you’ll probably pay more for your next policy. Ask about discounts, including paid-in-full and renewal discounts.
Just like your customers rely on your professional skills, call a professional independent insurance agent who will be in your corner, researching and recommending the best options.
“Commercial auto insurance is complicated, but it is vital to protecting your livelihood,” says Bill Kampf with The Progressive Group of Insurance Companies, one of the largest commercial auto insurers in the country.
Seven Tips To Finding The Right Commercial Auto Policy
(NAPS)—Finding a good deal on commercial auto insurance is about more than finding the lowest rate—it’s about finding the best all-around coverage to suit your company’s needs.
Understanding what coverages and service options are available is the first step toward making better, more informed decisions so that you and your business are properly protected. Here are some tips from the experts at Progressive to help you find the right coverage, service and price:
- Know the company you’re dealing with—and its reputation for handling claims. Under-stand that you may pay more for “cheaper” coverage in the long run if the company lacks experience handling commercial auto claims. In business, vehicles need to be on the road—or you lose money. Insurance companies that don’t specialize in commercial auto coverage often don’t have their own claims representatives handling the process, so it may take longer to get vehicles back in service.
- Look for discounts. Before initiating a quote for a policy, gather your company’s loss and financial records. This information could help you save a lot of money. You may qualify for discounts if you’ve carried increased liability limits in the past, if your employee base consists of experienced drivers or if your company’s credit rating is good.
- Don’t let your coverage lapse. Proof of prior insurance is important, so never let your insurance policy lapse. If you do, you will most certainly pay more for your next policy.
- Ask for referrals. Find out where colleagues in your business have found the best coverage and the best service. They may be able to refer you to an agent or com-any that really understands your business.
- Check driving records before hiring. If they’ll be driving a company vehicle, be sure to screen the Motor Vehicle Report (MVR) for every potential hire.
- Update the value of your equipment. If you’ve added, upgraded or phased out equipment, you’ll want your policy to reflect the true value of your fleet. This ensures you have adequate coverage where you need it and that you’re not paying for cover-age you no longer need.
- Check the options for managing your policy. See if you can handle routine tasks online and over the phone instead of having to visit an agency or mail in forms. It saves time—and in business, time is money.
Personal Or Commercial Car Insurance: Which Is Right For You?
(NAPS)—If, like many Americans, your family car is also used for purposes that could be considered commercial use, you may want to steer yourself into a chair and look over your insurance policy.
You’ll need to consider buying a commercial policy or making sure that your existing personal auto policy covers the vehicle for business use. Whether or not you need a commercial policy depends on how you use your vehicle and what company you have it insured with. Every company has different guidelines and may surcharge for business-use coverage on a personal auto policy.
If you’re not sure whether business use is covered on your personal policy, it’s important to call your insurance company or agent. The Progressive Group of Insurance Companies has put together these four questions you may want to ask:
- How do companies determine commercial use? One definition could include “engaging in transporting goods for compensation or a fee,” which includes pizza or newspaper delivery, catering, door-to-door consulting services, landscaping or snowplowing services, logging business, day care/church van services or farm-to-market delivery. People who do these kinds of work should consider purchasing a commercial vehicle policy.
- Do you need more liability coverage than a personal auto policy provides? Generally, a commercial auto policy offers higher limits of liability, but less or no coverage in areas that are typically not associated with commercial auto risks.
- Do you need special coverage for situations encountered while conducting business? Commercial auto policies usually offer these coverages, and they’re normally not available with personal auto policies. These include hired and nonowned auto coverage and coverage for towing a trailer for business use.
- Do you need to list any employees as drivers? Commercial auto policies allow you to list anyone that you employ. You don’t have that option with a personal auto policy. In general, you’ll need commercial auto coverage if the vehicle you use is owned by a corporate partnership or driven by employees, or if it’s used to haul tools or equipment weighing more than 500 pounds, make deliveries or heavy enough to require state or federal filings.
Finding A Commercial Auto Insurance Company
(NAPS)—For many business owners, the road to success cannot be driven without company vehicles. They are a key component of the business’ continued operations and are essential to the company’s livelihood.
And just as you’d never consider going on a job without all the necessary tools of your trade, you should never consider driving your business vehicle without the right insurance coverage. But finding the right commercial auto insurance company can be a tricky proposition. There are lots of companies offering commercial auto coverage, so it’s important that you select one that meets the needs of your business.
Of all the factors you’ll want to take into account, the company’s experience with commercial auto insurance and claims service will have the biggest impact on you and your business. Here are some questions to ask yourself as you consider different commercial auto insurance companies:
- Do they have experience with your business type? How long has the company offered commercial auto coverages? Do they understand the insurance needs that are unique to your line of work? A carrier with commercial auto expertise ensures that you’ll get the right coverage for your business.
- Do they excel in customer service? You need 24/7 service that is fast, accurate and focused on your bottom line. You also need the convenience of being able to handle your insurance business on nights and weekends, because you can’t count on having the time to deal with such matters during regular business hours.
- Do they offer flexible, competitive products? Payment options? Insurance rates can vary a great deal from company to company, so you’ll want to compare. You want flexibility in the types of coverages—and also payment options. Monthly bill plans can help small-business owners maintain necessary cash flow.
- Do they have a demon¬strated record of claims experience? Keeping vehicle down-time to a minimum is vital to any business. Each minute a vehicle is out of commission affects your bot-tom line. Look for a company that’s known for efficient claims service and fast, fair resolution.
How to Save on Commercial Auto Insurance in the Off-Season
Ever mowed a lawn in January? Or plowed a snowy driveway on a hot July day? If you own and operate a seasonal business, chances are you aren’t working in the off-season, so the insurance you carry should be different than what you carry in-season.
Leading commercial auto insurers like Progressive offer seasonal insurance for businesses like landscapers, snowplow drivers, ice cream truck owners, and more. These coverages allow you to customize your commercial auto insurance based on when your business is running on all cylinders — and when it’s not.
Progressive offers these tips for getting the most out of your policy in the off-season:
- If your vehicle will be parked during the off-season, you may think you should cancel that vehicle’s insurance during that time. But if you’d like to protect your vehicle and still save a little money, just switch your insurance to a Comprehensive-only policy. This will give you basic protection against incidents like vandalism, theft, falling tree branches and hail.A Comprehensive-only policy also gives you the bonus of having continuous insurance coverage. If you drop your insurance completely, you may pay significantly more to get a new policy when in-season rolls around because most insurance companies want to see proof of continuous coverage.
- If you plan to drive your work truck or other vehicles for personal use during the off-season, let your insurance carrier know. They can adjust your policy to reflect personal use, which can be less expensive while still providing coverage.
Claims handling capability is the most important feature we sell our commercial customers. Progressive consistently proves superior at settling commercial claims quickly.
Commercial Insurance 101
(NAPS)—If you own a business, it’s important to match the insurance you carry to the company you keep. Doing so can save you time and money down the road.
Commercial auto insurance can be especially important, so if you’re not sure what kind of commercial auto coverage you need, you may want to talk with an independent agent who specializes in that particular area. Independent agents work with you to put together a package that provides the protection that’s right for your business.
“Anyone who owns a business with a commercial automobile needs to have coverage that is appropriate for the industry and the size of the business,” says Brett Stalnaker of The Progressive Group of Insurance Companies. “An independent agent who specializes in commercial auto cover-age can provide business owners with the kind of advice they need to make the right choice.”
Here are some tips to help you find a commercial auto insurance agent:
- Get objective advice. There are different types of insurance agents. A captive agent represents only one insurance company. Independent agents represent a number of different insurance companies. Independent agents tend to be more flexible, because they can offer coverage options from various companies, increasing your odds of getting the combination of cover-ages, price and service that fits your business needs.
- Visit the Web site of a larger insurance company. Web sites such as driveinsurance.com can provide you with coverage option information and a way to find an agent in your neighborhood.
- Seek referrals. These can come from professional organizations or other contacts such as other business owners. Chances are, other business owners in your industry can recommend an agent that they’ve worked with.
One size doesn’t fit all when it comes to business-related insurance. A business that you start in the dining room or garage with just one vehicle can grow to the point where several vehicles are added and you move to commercial property. As your business evolves, your protection needs will most likely change, too. Be sure to check in with your agent periodically to reassess your commercial auto policy.