Depending on the type of business you own, you or your employees may drive regularly on the job. Maybe you own a delivery service or trucking business, but regardless of how you and employees use commercial vehicles, your company risks accidents. And this risk is real; there are more than 5 million commercial vehicle accidents annually.
If that doesn’t convince you to carry commercial auto insurance, consider this: The average commercial vehicle accident with injuries costs an employer $74,000, and $500,000 or more when fatalities occur. And that’s not likely to change any time soon.
But what’s a commercial auto policy like? What are the most common commercial vehicle accidents? How do you file a claim? And most importantly, how can they be prevented? The most common commercial auto claims are often covered by a process similar to those for personal auto policies, as described below:
No-fault accidents: Insurers will file a claim with the at-fault party’s insurer, and the other party’s collision and/or liability coverage will pay for your repairs and incidental expenses. If the other person doesn’t have insurance or doesn’t carry enough coverage to pay your claim, your commercial policy would pay out under uninsured/underinsured motorists’ coverage.
At-fault employee accidents: Collision coverage would pay for your damage, and your liability coverage (property damage and/or bodily injury) will cover the other party’s claim.
When an employee hits an animal: Your commercial policy’s comprehensive coverage would pay for the damages to your vehicle.
Damage by something beyond your control: This includes hitting an animal, damage resulting from poor weather conditions, theft, broken glass, falling tree limbs, and more. Your comprehensive coverage would pay in this scenario.
In a minor accident, or if you or one of your employees is at fault, evaluate whether it’s worth filing a claim. If damage costs add up to less than your deductible, it may be better to pay them out of pocket to avoid harming your claim-free status. However, if you need to file, follow these steps immediately:
• Determine if anyone is injured, and contact the police or ambulance service.
• Contact your insurer to report the accident.
• Collect and record important information before making a claim; this should include names, license plate numbers, witness contact information, vehicle information, and insurance information.
• Record accident details. Take pictures of the accident.
• Make a claim.
Preventing Commercial Auto Insurance Claims: You want to avoid claims, but accidents happen. Taking measures to prevent claims is crucial and include:
• Keeping safety checklists in company vehicles.
• Coaching employees on safe driving, and setting rules, including hands-free phones only and seatbelts required.
• Establishing commercial vehicle safety criteria and checking it regularly.
If an accident happens on the clock, you’ll be glad you obtained the right coverage, especially in an at-fault accident; when commercial vehicles are responsible, you’re more likely to see larger claims and lawsuits. And with commercial vehicle accident costs skyrocketing, it’s always better to be safe than sorry.