Commercial Auto Fleet Safety

Driving company vehicles is often an essential task for restoration contractors. But vehicles wear down over time, so it is important to take preventative measures, because breakdowns will happen when you least expect them. Read on for some helpful care tips for your vehicles.
Fleet Maintenance Tips
Avoid costly repairs by scheduling regular maintenance for your vehicles. Here are some common maintenance operations you should schedule:
  • Brake inspections
  • Oil changes
  • Tire pressure checks
  • Alignment checks
  • Regularly check your coolant. The chemicals in the coolant that prevent corrosion may not be functioning effectively
  • Change your fuel filter every 2 years or 24,000 miles
  • Rotate your tires every 5,000 miles
  • Do not ignore any engine or warning lights
  • Regularly clean your tail/head lights as well as your windshield
Business Automotive Safety Tips
Accidents normally happen when you least expect them. You can minimize their impact by preparing to properly handle the situation ahead of time.
  • Always have a spare tire.
  • Have an emergency kit in the trunk. This kit should include jumper cables, a flashlight, batteries, a first aid kit, a car jack, reflective cones or markers, a blanket, and a tool kit.
  • If you are involved in an accident involving a collision, first make sure that everyone involved is without injury. Then clear your cars from traffic. If your tire has blown out, it’s okay to drive on the rim until you are in a safe place.
  • If your car is in a safe area, be wary of strangers coming to assist you, keep your doors locked and only crack your window.
Tips for Better Fuel Economy
If your business needs require you or your employees to drive, paying less for fuel should be a cost-saving goal to shoot for.
  • Slow down – accelerating and braking gradually lessens fuel consumption over time.
  • Make sure your tires are properly inflated.
  • Clean your car. Extra items in the trunk or mud on the undercarriage can cause extra weight and worse fuel efficiency.
  • Maintain your engine with regular maintenance when you get an oil change.
  • Fill up your tank when it’s three-quarters empty and fill it all the way at one time.
  • Drive less if you can. Combine errands and go to the furthest trip first and make your way back.
  • Use your A/C when you’re on the highway. But leave it off if you’re in the city or in traffic and open a window instead.
Tips for Using Trailers Safely
Trailers can be a hazard to yourself and other drivers. Do your research before you get on the road with one.
  • Invest in a weight distributing hitch.
  • Check that your trailer lights, brake lights, and turn signals work properly for your trailer.
  • Load the heaviest items first, distributing them evenly, and securing them sufficiently with ropes and ties.
  • Make sure your load is properly balanced side to side and try to keep the center of gravity low and towards the front.
  • Ensure that the trailer and its cargo do not weigh more than the vehicle, especially if the vehicle does not have brakes equipped to handle the excess weight.
  • Practice driving with the trailer before you embark on a trip and remember that the trailer goes the opposite direction when backing up.
  • Do not brake heavily when driving with cargo.
If your business vehicle breaks down, your business could break down as well. It is easier and cheaper to maintain your engine and your car rather than having to deal with problem after problem as it breaks down due to lack of care. You are ultimately the first and last line of defense for your vehicles. As a business that uses vehicles, you will also encounter problems that you can’t control. Explore your commercial auto insurance options to protect your business from the unexpected.

Commercial Auto Insurance Symbols: What do they mean?

Taking the time to understand the language and symbols on your commercial Automobile Insurance policy may seem like trying to learn a new language, but it is important to fully understand your policy so you know how you’re protected. Below you can find a few general guidelines that will be helpful when deciphering your policy:
  • Each symbol represents the type of vehicle protected by the applicable liability or physical damage limit.
  • The symbol may apply to the type of vehicle covered or the vehicle’s ownership status.
  • The various terms within your policy have specific definitions that you should become familiar with.
  • The symbols are different on coverage for liability as compared to physical damage coverage.
Liability Coverage Auto Symbols
  • 1 = Broadest symbol; covers any “auto.” (ANY AUTO)
  • 2 = Covers any “auto” owned by the insured, including those attained after the policy begins. It also applies to trailers used with owned vehicles. (OWNED AUTOS ONLY)
  • 3 = Covers only private passenger “autos” owned by the insured. (OWNED PRIVATE PASSENGER AUTOS ONLY)
  • 4 = Covers all “autos,” other than private passenger vehicles owned by the insured. This includes vehicles that are attained after the policy begins and also applies to trailers used by an owned vehicle. (OWNED AUTOS OTHER THAN PRIVATE PASSENGER AUTOS ONLY)
  • 5 = Applies to “autos” owned by the insured that are garaged or licensed in no-fault benefit law states. (OWNED AUTOS SUBJECT TO NO-FAULT)
  • 6 = Applies to “autos” that are garaged or licensed in states where uninsured motorist coverage is required. (OWNED AUTOS SUBJECT TO A COMPULSORY UNINSURED MOTORIST LAW)
  • 7 = Covers only the “autos” and trailers listed on the policy. (SPECIFICALLY DESCRIBED AUTOS)
  • 8 = Covers “autos” that the insured leases, hires, rents or borrows for their own use. It does not cover “autos” that are leased, hired, rented or borrowed for employee or family member usage. (HIRED AUTOS ONLY)
  • 9 = Covers “autos” that the insured does not own, lease, hire, rent or borrow, but are used for business purposes. These “autos” may be owned by employees or family members, but must be used for the insured’s business or personal matters. (NON-OWNED AUTOS ONLY)
Physical Damage Coverage Automobile Symbols
  • 1 = Covers “autos” owned by the insured, including those attained after the policy begins. (OWNED AUTOS ONLY)
  • 2 = Covers only private passenger “autos” that are owned by the insured. (OWNED PRIVATE PASSENGER AUTOS ONLY)
  • 3 = Covers all “autos” (other than private passenger vehicles owned by the insured. (OWNED AUTOSOTHER THAN PRIVATE PASSENGER AUTOS ONLY)
  • 4 = Applies to “autos” that are listed on the policy. This also covers trailers used with a listed vehicle. (SPECIFICALLY DESCRIBED AUTOS)
  • 5 = Covers “autos” that the insured leases, hires, rents or borrows for his/her own use. This does not cover “autos” leased, hired, rented or borrowed for use by an employee or family member. (HIRED AUTOS ONLY)
At times, there may not be an applicable symbol for the type of coverage provided. In those instances, a special symbol is used and added to the policy by way of an endorsement. The endorsement will contain a complete description and explanation of the symbol’s meaning, and the symbol will also appear with the applicable coverages on the policy.

Commercial Auto Insurance Tips

Many restoration contractors mistakenly believe that the vehicles they use for business will be covered by personal car insurance policies. Business owners frequently discover the hard way that they need commercial auto insurance for a vehicle used for business: after they attempt to file claims on their personal auto coverage for damages or injuries from accidents.

It is not always easy to figure out what specific car insurance you need for a business vehicle, and it is important that you consider all your options when you are looking for insurance quotes.

 When Do You Need Commercial Auto Insurance?
  • When your employees drive vehicles on company time
  • When you have a partnership or corporation that owns vehicles
  • When your vehicles are registered or titled to the business

Why You Need Business Auto Insurance

Business auto insurance is designed to cover your investment in commercial automobiles, your employees’ expenses in the event of an accident, and the added liability risks involved when you or your employees use a vehicle for any commercial purpose.

Liability is a potential issue anytime other people’s safety and property are at stake. If you or your employees cause an accident while transporting people or goods, your company assets can be at stake. You need to have commercial auto insurance in place to cover the costs associated with injuries and property damage your company is responsible for, and potential liability lawsuits.

How to Protect Your Business with Commercial Auto Insurance

When you get commercial auto insurance, you will have a number of decisions to make based on your company’s use of business vehicles. For example, you will need to choose the limits for each portion of your policy, including liability, collision, comprehensive and optional coverage such as uninsured motorists insurance.

When choosing the best plan for your company, be sure to go over every aspect of your coverage that could make a difference when it comes time to file a claim. For example, you might want to:

  • Make sure your liability coverage extends to any new vehicle purchases and the company’s use of non-owned and hired vehicle.
  • Ensure that your plan will cover all of the commercial vehicles that you currently own.
  • Add rental reimbursement coverage so you are prepared for times when your commercial vehicle is inoperable. This element of company auto insurance coverage can make a huge difference if you lose a vehicle with short notice. The rental reimbursement will help cover the cost of renting a vehicle – which will mean your business won’t have to stop operating if you suffer a break down.
  • Consider a business umbrella policy that will cover excess liability. This kind of policy kicks in if a claim exceeds your business auto liability coverage. For example, in the event that you or one of your employees is responsible for a serious accident that results in extensive property damage or injuries and/or leads to a large liability suit, your business umbrella policy will protect your business assets.

If you would like to find out more, please contact our office.