Thursday, June 20, 2013

Do you use your car for business? Nothing personal, but you may be at risk…

If you use your personal car for your occupation or business, and do more than just commute back and forth, you might need to consider adding “Business Usage” endorsement to your personal auto policy. I use the word “personal” because that’s what insurance companies call your everyday auto policy. There are also “business” or “commercial” auto policies out there protecting business owners when they or their employees are driving vehicles as part of their work.
What about the area between these two entities? These days, more folks use their cars, in the course of their occupations, for more than just driving back and forth to work. Here are just a few examples:
- Franklin TN Real estate agent, who uses her car to drive clients around to look at homes.
- Physical therapist who drives to patient homes throughout Williamson County during a typical workday.
- Salesperson driving to appointments all day in Brentwood TN, every day.
- Pizza delivery driver, who uses his own car to deliver for a local Mom-and-Pop pizza restaurant.
Would their own insurance policies cover them and others if they had an accident during their “business-related” driving?
I’m afraid many people just haven’t thought of this possibility, and still, others know it’s a gray area, and are just taking a calculated risk that nothing will happen.
Look at yours or any personal auto policy. You’ll see, in EVERY policy, wording to the effect that it covers personal use, and not “business usage”. But what is “business usage”? Sometimes the lines between business and personal are blurred. Your policy can’t possibly list all the scenarios that might, or might not, be covered, so it’s up to you, with your agent, to decide if you’re at risk.
There is help available, at least through some insurance companies. Some insurers offer their customers a “Business Usage endorsement”, which changes the policy to extend coverage to when you use your car for business. Of course, there is an extra fee charged to add this endorsement to a policy.
Before it extends you coverage, however, your insurance company will want to know what kind of business you’re in, and how you’ll use your vehicle. Insurance companies will stay away from the potentially more dangerous occupations. For instance, the real estate agent, physical therapist, and salesperson examples I gave above would likely be able to get extra coverage. Unfortunately, the pizza delivery driver will find it impossible to get his insurer to add business usage coverage to his regular auto policy (this is why the major pizza chains purchase their own commercial liability insurance for their drivers).
If your occupation requires more than just a back and forth commute, please don’t wait until you have an accident to see if you’ll be covered. Talk to your agent, and review your auto insurance policy. If you need it, I promise you it will be worth the small additional premium for that priceless peace of mind.

David Yates Insurance Agency
1881 General George Patton Dr, Suite 103
Franklin, TN 37067

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