In order to provide a commercial auto quote, your insurance agent will ask the following (and maybe more) in order to fully understand your operation and to get the best price and value possible for your commercial auto insurance policy.
Many or most of the policies that we write are not new business, meaning that our clients are not brand new in business. And when you're looking to change companies, for whatever reason, it can feel like it's a lot of work. But if you plan it out, you may be able to get a quote with almost zero effort on your part.
1. Previous Signed Commercial Auto Applications – If you already have a policy and nothing has changed, then providing 1 Reason Insurance with the application you signed for your current policy will contain most if not all your information. Each commercial auto insurance company has their own nuances of required information, but often that's all that's needed. If you have a schedule of vehicles and/or drivers, which many commercial auto policy owners have, just add the schedules if not included in the application.
2. Certificates of Insurance (COI), and Declaration Pages (DEC) – are another wonderful source of information that if handed to the agent can save you time from answering questions. Obviously all the information will get verified, and for good reason, we find errors or policies that require updating in over a third of the policies we examine. That's a lot of policies that aren't "correct". We have also found that businesses with commercial auto don't always fully understand all the terms of the policy and/or what coverage they have or don't have. Make sure when you're shopping for auto insurance that your agent takes the time to explain the characteristics of the quote/policy.
3. Vehicle Information – includes the following:
Radius of operations (usually broken into ranges that include 50, 100,200,500, and unlimited)
Current odometer mileage
Miles per year
Year purchased / purchased new or not
Comprehensive insurance coverage and if so, the deductible (for cars and light trucks, this is usually $500 or $1000, but for big 18 wheel trucks, $2500 isn't rare)
Collision insurance coverage and if so the deductible (for cars and light trucks, this is usually $500 or $1000, but for big 18 wheel trucks, $2500 isn't rare)
A quick note on collision and comprehensive coverage because many commercial and personal auto clients get the two confused. You can think of comprehensive as "anything other than collision" and in fact, it's often called just that. And a collision is usually considered an "at-fault" accident. For example, if you run a stop sign and hit another car, it's a collision. If you slide on ice and run into a street sign it's a collision. However, and this is where the confusion comes in, if you hit an animal (for example a deer in the road), that's not normally considered a collision it's part of comprehensive.
In other words, you can swerve to miss a deer, and as a result you hit a street sign, that's a collision. An insurance claim is an insurance claim, but all else being equal, I would prefer to have a comprehensive claim (hit the deer), instead of an at-fault accident (hit a street sign) because it's the deer's fault instead of myself.
If you vehicle gets stolen, it's covered under comprehensive. That's especially useful for boats, RVs, motorcycles, and other vehicles that are stored during part of the year. You can sometimes have comprehensive coverage instead of full coverage if you're not using a vehicle. However, many commercial auto insurance companies will not allow comprehensive only coverage, especially if there are state and/or federal filings required.
4. Federal and or State insurance Filings – Many commercial auto operations, especially trucks including pickup trucks are required to make filings. If you're new and not sure, be sure to ask your agent, but also, more importantly, find out for sure from your state and federal DOT. You're the one on the hook if you're not legal, and it's not cheap if you're fined.
5. Schedule of Drivers:
Full first and last name
Driver's license number
Driver's license state of issue
What age first licensed
Has commercial driver's license (CDL)? If so, when issued
Date of Birth
Date originally licensed
Accidents, claims, and violations – This trips almost everyone up. A large percentage of people forget tickets and "ghosts of driving past". Without an accurate list of "things" that will pop up on the driving record, it's nearly impossible to get a accurate commercial auto premium amount. Some companies charge more and some less for any given type of infraction. What that means is a company that provides the best value/price may not be the best value/price if the driver's records are not the same as the original application. It's why it's important to re-run the numbers after all known information is available. Also, you may not guess it, but seatbelt tickets matter too. A seatbelt ticket is considered by many commercial auto carriers as a safety violation, making it relatively serious in determining the insurance premium.
Which vehicle driver is mostly likely to drive / assigned to
Miles per year
Any major cities traveling to/from (this includes LA, Chicago, NY, Miami, etc…).
6. Amount of liability coverage including bodily injury and property – State and or Federal requirements may dictate the amount you get, but if your company is a viable asset that is income producing, the required minimums by law may not be enough. The rule of thumb is that the more profitable in combination with the amount of assets you have means more coverage. Nothing is worse than working day and night, along with weekends for years building your business and nest egg only to see it vaporize overnight by one accident by yourself or an employee. At it's core, insurance is risk transfer, and more business and personal assets means a bigger target on your wallet for attorneys to aim for. There's a reason why people say attorneys go after the deep pockets, it's because that's where the money is. Between you and your driver, it's not hard to figure out who is likely to have the deeper pockets.
I prefer to offer what's known as "Combined Single Limit". It's one pot of money to pull from for liability instead of the more traditional split limits out there. Unless you're good at predicting the ratio of liability for accidents caused by your company, I think it's better to have a combined single limit.
7. Location of vehicles – This is typically pretty easy for small busineses, it's the business location, but for larger operations, there's often more than one location.
8. Cargo Coverage – If you're hauling for others (for-hire), you will likely want cargo coverage to insure the goods you're moving. If you're a household goods mover, you're required to have coverage to the best of my knowledge at the state level (states we serve), and at the federal level. I don't know this as a fact, but I highly suspect the reason household goods movers are required to have cargo coverage is the average family may not know to ask/or require coverage.
9. Do you haul your own cargo exclusively?
10. Do you operate in more than one state?
11. Do you operate over a regular route?
12. Do you haul any hazardous or extra hazardous substances or materials as defined by EPA?
13. Do you have workmans' comp coverage for employees that are driving?
14. A Loss Run Report if you already have coverage – That's a report that shows what previous auto insurance companies have paid.
There's actually more depending on your type of operation, but this makes up the majority of information required to get a quality and accurate quote that is the best price for your commercial auto insurance policy.
Robert Weinstein is a husband, dad, stock market junkie, real estate broker, and of course…Insurance agent. Interests include my family, economics, marketing, technology, real estate, finance/investing, history, and Asia.
Robert’s insurance expertise includes having the designation of Certified in Long-Term Care (CLTC) and assist in asset protection for families with members entering retirement.
Robert is also an accomplished syndicated writer whose work can be found in TheStreet, MainStreet, CNBC, Forbes, Yahoo Finance, Seeking Alpha, MSN Money, The Money Show, Stock Saints, Motley Fool, Fidelity, Minyanville, RealMoney Pro, and many national and international newspapers.