Perhaps your dreams of owning and operating your own business have finally started coming true. If you have started and established your West Virginia business, you may be wondering about insuring the vehicle or fleet you use to serve your customers. Before you search for commercial auto insurance quotes, be sure to equip yourself with a few facts.
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Do You Need Commercial Auto Insurance?
Determining whether you need commercial insurance – or if a personal auto policy will suffice – can be challenging. So, if you need some guidance, ask yourself the following:
- How many vehicles need insurance?
- Are they cars, trucks, vans or semi trailers?
- How will you use the vehicles?
- Who will drive them?
- Who owns them?
The answers you provide can lead you in the right direction. Most business-owned vehicles do require commercial coverage; this includes those used for deliveries and for farming. If you're an employee and your company requires you to drive vehicles as part of your job, your firm's policy might protect you.
Some self-employed individuals or sole proprietors might be able to get by with their personal policies, especially if the only business use of their vehicles is for business trips. You should examine this area carefully with the help of an insurance agent.
If any of the following apply to your situation, the odds are you'll need commercial protection increase:
- You can't remove your business equipment from your vehicles.
- You allow your employees to use your vehicles for your business.
- You can't find personal auto policies with high enough coverage limits.
In the end, you might need to work with both the West Virginia DMV and your insurance carrier. The DMV can advise you on the legal requirements for your business; your provider can assist you in determining the amounts and types of coverage that you'll need to protect your business assets.
West Virginia's Laws About Commercial Auto Insurance
Whether you own a vehicle for business or personal use, or some combination of both, the West Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles insists that you meet the state's financial responsibility standards.
You can meet the West Virginia's requirements through these methods:
- Purchase a vehicle liability policy that meets the state's minimum requirements.
- Pay the $500 uninsured motor vehicle (UMV) fee. The state also requires this fee with each registration renewal.
- Opt to self-insure.
- Post a surety bond.
The last two options are only available for owners of business vehicles. Also, the UMV fee doesn't provide insurance protection. You may need to pay for any damage you cause in an accident through your own funds.
What Are West Virginia's Minimum Requirements?
Before you can legally operate your commercial vehicle on West Virginia roads, you must purchase a liability insurance policy from a licensed auto insurance carrier. At a minimum, that policy must include these coverages:
- $10,000 for property damage
- $20,000 for one accident, one injury/death
- $40,000 for one accident, two injuries/deaths
You can purchase more than the required minimum amount of liability insurance. Keep in mind that, in some situations, the lender who gave you your auto loan may require you to purchase additional types of coverage.
Although the DMV verifies your insurance, you must still carry proof of insurance in your vehicle at all times. If you’re involved in an accident or a police officer stops you for a traffic violation, the officer may ask for your proof of insurance.
What Are the Penalties for Failing To Carry Coverage?
If the DMV or a police officer catches you with no proof of insurance, the DMV may do the following:
- Suspend your registration: In this case, you must obtain insurance and show proof of that insurance, as well as pay a reinstatement fee of $100 before the DMV can reinstate your registration. You’ll also have to pay an extra $50 if the DMV sends the state police a secure order on your license plate.
- Suspend your driver’s license: The DMV may suspend your license for 30 days if it’s a first offense and 90 days if it’s a second offense. After the suspension period is up and you obtain and provide proof of insurance, you’ll have to pay $50 to reinstate your license.
Don't let lack of commercial auto insurance slow down your business. Make sure your policy meets West Virginia's minimum requirements and proof of insurance is stored in the vehicle, no matter who is driving.
What Does Commercial Auto Insurance Cover?
Depending on the policy you choose and the added coverage you opt to include in that policy, commercial auto insurance in West Virginia can cover the following:
- Bodily Injury to others: This coverage pays for damage if you are legally responsible for an accident that injures someone other than passengers in your auto. It also provides for legal defense and court costs for you and your business if someone sues you.
- Optional bodily injury to others: This option pays for damage to people injured or killed in an accident if you (as business owner) or an employee is legally responsible for the accident. Unlike the compulsory option, this insurance does provide coverage for injuries to passengers and for accidents occurring outside of West Virginia state borders.
- Personal injury: This coverage provides for medical expenses, lost wages and replacement cost services resulting from of a covered accident, regardless of fault.
- Collision: This covers costs for any direct and accidental damage to your commercial vehicle caused by a collision, regardless of fault.
- Comprehensive: Comprehensive insurance is not a substitute for collision. It pays for direct and accidental damage to or loss of your commercial vehicle in non-collision situations including vandalism, theft, fire, wind, hail, flood, hitting an animal and other situations.
- Property damage: This covers damage to someone else's automobile or other property in a covered accident your company caused.
- Medical payments: This coverage pays for reasonable expenses for necessary medical and funeral services incurred by you (as business owner), your employees or passengers because of an auto accident.
- Hired auto liability: This coverage provides your business, your employees and you with liability protection when you temporarily rent, lease, hire or borrow vehicles for business use.
- Drive other car: This coverage provides protection for physical damage and liability for specific employees named on your commercial auto policy if they are driving a vehicle not owned by the company. This is important for owners or other key employees who do not have their own personal auto policy and therefore would not have insurance protection if they borrowed another person’s car or rented a vehicle on their own.
There may be other options available depending on the type of WV business you own. Be sure to ask your insurance company if they offer policies tailored to your specific business needs.
How High Will My Commercial Auto Insurance Quotes Be?
The average commercial auto insurance quote in West Virginia depends on the type of automobile you wish to insure:
- Commercial car insurance: $1,200 to $2,400
- Commercial truck insurance: $800 to $2,000
- Commercial taxi insurance: $5,000 to $10,000
- Commercial bus insurance: $35,000
- Commercial tractor trailer insurance: $2,500+
A number of factors, including the following, could affect your commercial vehicle insurance quotes:
- Driving record: Insurance companies often have specific underwriting requirements, especially for those driving heavy-duty trucks, such as tractor-trailers. Drivers with several driving violations may cost your company much higher premiums or may prevent you from getting the insurance you need. Hire qualified, skilled, claims-free drivers to both lower your rates and reduce your risks.
- The value of the vehicle: Many business owners consider premium rates when choosing vehicles to add to their fleet. Assessing the commercial auto insurance costs for a particular vehicle prior to buying can make a big difference in your annual insurance costs.
- Driving location and distance: How far you and your employees drive affects your commercial auto or commercial truck insurance costs. The more miles you travel, the higher your risk of being involved in an accident. Insurance companies consider this when they calculate commercial insurance rates.
Be Business Savvy: Find the Right Rates
You probably didn't make your West Virginia business grow by making rash decisions and wasting money. You should find the perfect commercial vehicle insurance at the right price when you contact a knowledgeable Trusted Choice® independent insurance agent. Our agents can find quotes and help you find the policy that fits your business without breaking your budget.