Running a small business requires a lot of time and commitment. That might mean being on the road a lot. Many smaller companies find it beneficial to invest in a vehicle that they use for business. In fact, many of them even use their vehicles as convenient sources of advertising.
But, owning a company vehicle is a big expense, and likewise a big risk. Consider how this might affect your business. Out of your budget, how can you devote to maintaining a vehicle? Given that you have a small operation, the car will likely eat up a fair chunk of your earnings.
How do you make your ownership as responsible and affordable as possible? There are many ways to do so. The right vehicle care, coupled with quality insurance coverage, are good places to start.
Insure Your Company Vehicle Effectively
Most of the 50 states require their drivers to carry minimum levels of car insurance. This rule affects personal and commercial drivers alike. So, when you buy a car for your business, you likely have to get insurance on the vehicle. But, which types of coverage do you need?
Insuring a company vehicle means getting commercial auto insurance. Though similar to standard car insurance, it will contain specifications that help address the needs of businesses. In many cases, it is the only option for insuring commercial vehicles. If you try to insure your company car with a personal policy, the policy will likely void when you use the car for business.
When setting up your policy, you'll likely need to invest in multiple types of protection. These might include:
- Liability Insurance: Most often, your state will require liability insurance from you. It will help the business compensate third parties in the event your actions harm others. For example, if the business driver is the at-fault party in the accident, the victims can likely file a claim on your liability policy to pay for their own losses. While carrying the required levels might suffice, it's usually better to maintain more than the minimum limits of coverage.
- Collision Protection: After an accident, you might need help paying for damage or replacing the car. Collision coverage might cover some or all of these costs.
- Comprehensive coverage: Your vehicle could sustain damage from a variety of incidents. These might include fire, theft, vandalism or weather. Use this coverage to help pay for resulting damage.
- Uninsured/Underinsured Coverage: In an accident, the other driver might be at-fault. If that person doesn't carry appropriate liability insurance, you might be unable to file a claim on that person's policy. With uninsured/underinsured protection, you can use your policy to cover extra losses.
- Medical Payments Insurance: This coverage might help you cover you or your passengers' medical bills following a vehicle accident.
Your commercial auto policy might also provide additional perks. These might include things like roadside assistance, towing and rental car reimbursement. These benefits might prove helpful to a business owner who relies on their vehicle for day-to-day needs. They can greatly reduce the stress of an already-busy proprietor.
So, ask your agent how to best formulate the commercial auto policy that best benefits you. They can work one-on-one with you to tailor your protection.
Don't Neglect Care and Maintenance on Your Car
Even if you have insurance on your vehicle, you don't want to use it except in cases of accidents. Thus, the better care you take of your business vehicle, the safer you can likely keep yourself on the road.
- Make sure the vehicle receives standard care and maintenance. Change the oil, rotate the tires and clean the engine regularly. This can keep it from experiencing excessive wear and tear. It can also help lengthen the vehicle's working life. Good maintenance might mean you have less frequent repair bills on the vehicle.
- Protect the car by always storing it properly, locking it and arming the security systems. Don't store important items in clear sight within the vehicle.
- Review your commercial auto insurance every year. If you need to increase or otherwise adjust your coverage, contact your insurer. They can likely advise you if changes are wise and what benefits might result.
The more you know about the car, the safer you are.
Require Safe Driving
Treat your company vehicle as an expensive piece of heavy machinery. If not handled properly, the car can cause damage to the business and to others. You should never take unsafe driving risks in your vehicle. Follow the speed limit, use extra caution and protect the car whenever necessary. Many companies use tracking to help ensure that drivers follow appropriate highway procedures.
Remember that your company's vehicle remains an important part of your operations. Therefore, your actions in the car can directly influence the business. Consider responsible ownership one of your most important priorities.
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