Who is covered by my auto insurance—and under what circumstances?
Your auto policy will cover you and other family members on your policy, whether driving your car or someone else’s car (with their permission). Your policy also provides coverage if someone who is not on your policy is driving your car with your consent.
Your personal auto policy only covers personal driving, whether you’re commuting to work, running errands or taking a trip. It will not provide coverage if you use your car for commercial purposes—for instance, if you deliver pizzas.
Personal auto insurance will also not provide coverage if you use your car to provide transportation to others through a ride-sharing service such as Uber or Lyft. Some auto insurers, however, are now offering supplemental insurance products (at additional cost) that extend coverage for vehicle owners providing ride-sharing services.
Is auto insurance coverage mandatory?
Auto insurance requirements vary from state to state. If you’re financing a car, your lender may also have its own requirements. Nearly every state requires car owners to carry:
- Bodily injury liability – which covers costs associated with injuries or death that you or another driver causes while driving your car.
- Property damage liability – which reimburses others for damage that you or another driver operating your car causes to another vehicle or other property, such as a fence, building or utility pole.
In addition, many states require that you carry:
- Medical payments or personal injury protection (PIP), which provides reimbursement for medical expenses for injuries to you or your passengers. It will also cover lost wages and other related expenses.
- Uninsured motorist coverage reimburses you when an accident is caused by a driver who does not have auto insurance—or in the case of a hit-and-run. You can also purchase underinsured motorist coverage, which will cover costs when another driver lacks adequate coverage to pay the costs of a serious accident.
Even if PIP and uninsured motorist coverage are optional in your state, consider adding them to your policy for greater financial protection.
What other types of auto insurance coverage are typical?
While most basic, legally mandated auto insurance covers the damage your car causes, it does not cover damage to your own car. To cover your own car, you should consider these optional coverages:
- Collision reimburses you for damage to your car that occurs as a result of a collision with another vehicle or other object—e.g., a tree or guardrail—when you’re at fault. While collision coverage will not reimburse you for mechanical failure or normal wear-and-tear on your car, it will cover damage from potholes or from rolling your car.
- Comprehensive provides coverage against theft and damage caused by an incident other than a collision, such as fire, flood, vandalism, hail, falling rocks or trees and other hazards—even getting hit by an asteroid!
- Glass Coverage provides coverage from windshield damage, which is common. Some auto policies include no-deductible glass coverage, which also includes side windows, rear windows and glass sunroofs. Or you can buy supplemental glass coverage.
What is gap insurance and do I need it?
There are several type of trucking related coverages:
- Physical Damage insurance is coverage for your truck and trailer. Your premium is based on the value of your equipment. Usually a percentage of the value. This coverage is not required by law but if you finance your vehicle the lienholder will require it. It is important to insure your vehicle for the real value. Not over or under value the vehicle as the insurance company will only pay market value at the time of the loss.
- Primary Auto Liability insurance is required by federal regulations. Every carrier must carry liability insurance on every rig even on leased units. Liability insurance protects you when a third party is injured in an accident. Owner-operators should ask when leasing onto a company who will pay for their insurance – the company or from driver weekly settlements.
- General Liability insurance protects the business for any property damage or bodily injury that might occur which does not involve a truck. Typical examples of this would include the slip and fall exposure at your place of business, advertising related exposures, and/or contractual exposures you may get involved in.
- Non-Trucking Liability insurance pays for an accident when the driver/truck is not under dispatch. The coverage is sometimes referred to as deadhead coverage or bobtail liability.
- Non-Owned Trailer Liability coverage protects the trailer you are pulling for someone else.
- Non-Owned Trailer Physical Damage coverage insures the trailer you are pulling for someone else in the event of loss. $20,000 is somewhat standard for trailers.
- Trailer-Interchange Liability coverage protects a trailer you are pulling when there is a interchange agreement in force. For example with a steamship line.
- Cargo Insurance covers damage/loss to freight in transit. This coverage can have many exclusions such as unattended vehicle, maximum theft limitations on target commodities such as garments, liquor, electronics and a whole host of others. It is very important to read this policy closely in the event you think you may be covered for something and you are not.
- Terminal Coverage protects freight located at specified terminals in the event of loss. Usually there are time limitations related to this coverage. For example: 72 hours maximum per specified load. If the goods are stored longer than the terminal time you would most likely want to purchase Warehouse Legal coverage. Again very important to read your policy. This amount of coverage is dependent on the total amount of goods stored/docked/off-loaded at any one time.
- Warehouse Legal coverage protects goods stored at specified locations in the event of loss. For example as relates to theft, fire, sprinkler damage. This amount of coverage is dependent on the total amount of goods stored at the location at any one time.