Getting in a car accident without car insurance can lead to a big financial abyss since the driver at fault must pay for the entire accident cost. It includes the cost of car repairs and medical treatments for the other driver. Then there is the cost of their car repairs, hospital bills, and additional legal fees.
But when we consider a small business, the entire risk factor and the total cost of the accident change ultimately. Car insurance operates in a slightly different way when enterprises are considered.
Car Insurance for Businesses
Auto insurance policies for businesses differ slightly from car insurance policies for personal use. People cannot use car insurance bought for personal use for business activities.
So if you own a small business that uses vehicles and the vehicles are covered under general car insurance, the claim would be invalid and rejected if the vehicles get in any accident.
Even the remotest business use of a vehicle, such as dropping off a client, or driving to a business location, can get your insurance claim rejected if the car gets in an accident while being used for those business activities.
Your small business should have commercial car insurance so that all the vehicles used by your business (and your employees who operate it) are financially and legally secured.
We’ll get into the details of commercial car insurance policies, what extra coverage they provide, ways to save money on these policies, etc. But first, let’s look at the car insurance policies that your small business might need to claim if there are any windshield damages.
The Variety of Windshield Damages
When it comes to damages to the windshield, there is no objective way of calculating the cost of the repairs. There are multiple factors that can affect how much the total cost of repairs could be.
The cost of repairs for the windshield depends on factors such as:
- The type of damage
- The severity of the damage
- The type of vehicle your business uses
- Geographical factors
Let’s take a brief look at all these factors, and then we’ll proceed with the different auto insurance policies that cover windshield damages.
The Type of Damage
The windshield of any car is a vulnerable part. It remains exposed, and any strong impact can cause damage. When considering a car insurance claim, the type of damage can make a lot of difference.
Was the damage due to a collision with another car, or was it a collision with some object like a tree or a light pole, etc.? Considering that a business is operating the vehicles, sometimes the commodities inside the car can cause windshield damage.
The severity of the damage
The cost of fixing a damaged or cracked windshield varies a lot. It can be as little as $100 or as high as $1,500 to $2,000 depending on the severity of the damage. A simple crack is usually kept as it is, while cracks larger than six inches need a replacement.
Make and Model of the Car
The type of vehicle used for your business also affects the cost of windshield repairs. Small, cheaper commercial cars are usually much more affordable to repair than expensive, large vehicles. Here’s how much it would cost to replace a Tesla Model Y’s windshield.
Small businesses usually have the former, which makes repairing the windshield cheaper and more affordable. If the vehicle can be repaired at multiple garages (due to ease of repair or having a car insurer with a vast network of garages), the cost decreases since options are available.
Some states offer cheaper commercial and personal car insurance policies than others. This price difference is due to multiple reasons, but the most impactful one is the labor cost and the cost of spare parts.
For example, if you search for the price of Illinois car insurance, you’d get many different rates than other states due to this geographical difference. There is not much you can do about it other than just selecting the most affordable options.
Which Policies Cover Windshield Damages
Different types of accidents require other commercial auto insurance policies to fix the damages to your business vehicle. Your commercial insurance must have those policies to cover the damages.
Let’s take a look at all the different ways the windshield of your commercial vehicle can get damaged and the policies needed to cover those damages. Here’s a guide to know how to file an insurance claim.
Collision Accident (Your Fault)
If your vehicle gets in a car accident and the fault is yours, then you need to claim your collision insurance to cover the cost of repairs your vehicle needs. This coverage will also cover windshield repairs unless your policy specifically mentions that windshield damages are excluded or some other reasons.
Collision insurance also requires the policy owner to pay the deductibles, meaning that you will have to pay a small amount of money before the car insurance company pays the remaining claim amount.
Collision Accident (Not Your Fault)
When you get in a car accident, and the accident was not your fault, the other driver (who is at fault) is liable to pay for the entire repair cost of your commercial vehicle, which includes windshield repairs or replacement as well.
Liability coverage of the at-fault driver will also cover the cost of medical treatments that your employee or anyone who was driving the car needs after the accident. It is not valid if the business operates in no-fault states. More on that later.
When the At-Fault Driver has No Liability Coverage
With over 32 million drivers in the US who do not have liability insurance, it is not rare for someone to get in a car accident with them. So if your commercial vehicle gets in a car accident with someone who is not insured and it is their fault, claiming uninsured motorist coverage will cover the cost of repairs.
Parked Car Accident (No One’s Fault)
If your small business has just one vehicle or slowly, with growth, the number of cars is increasing, storing those vehicles safely becomes very important. No vehicle is safe, even if it is parked safely in a garage.
Natural calamities like hailstorms, earthquakes, fires, floods, hurricanes, etc., can severely damage your vehicle’s windshield and the entire vehicle. Natural calamities are rare, but what if a tree falls on top of your car, cracking the whole windshield?
In such situations, when the car gets damaged while it is parked and there is no one at fault, business owners should claim comprehensive insurance to cover the cost of repairs.
Comprehensive coverage also requires the policyholders to pay a deductible before the auto insurance company pays the rest of the claim amount.
“A car accident is an expensive mess to fix, but things get even more complicated when the accident involves a commercial business.”
Protecting Your Small Business
Your small business needs to be protected financially from all the different types of road accidents, as these road accidents not only can hamper your business but also render it bankrupt.
A car accident is an expensive mess to fix, but things get even more complicated when the accident involves a commercial business. Then it is not an individual injuring another individual but a business injuring another individual.
The cost of a road accident that involves a commercial vehicle can quickly go as high as a million dollars. So protecting your small business with all the mandatory and essential auto insurance policies is a must.
Let’s look at all the mandatory and essential auto insurance policies your business should have and why.
Liability coverage needs little to no introduction. It is the most important car insurance policy in almost every state. Forty-nine out of fifty states require individual drivers and businesses to have liability coverage to operate a vehicle legally.
Driving without a liability insurance policy is a felony and will get you and your business into a big issue. If your commercial car gets in a road accident and the injured driver sues your business, you will have to bear the enormous cost.
So liability coverage is a must if you use vehicles for your business. Even if you do not own a business, driving without liability insurance is a disaster waiting to happen.
Collision insurance is not a mandatory auto insurance policy, but it is just as popular as liability insurance and costly as well. In fact, liability insurance and collision coverage are the most expensive car insurance policies you can get.
So what makes collision insurance so popular that people choose to buy it even if it is not mandatory? Collision insurance covers the cost of repairs needed for your car after a road accident, irrespective of whose fault the accident was.
So if your commercial car (or personal car) gets in any collision accident, whether it be hitting another vehicle or hitting a tree or a light pole, you can claim this insurance policy, and it will cover the entire cost of the repairs.
The great thing about this policy is that it can be claimed even if the accident was not your fault. Or if the accident was not your fault and the liability coverage of the driver at fault is not sufficient to cover the entire cost of repairs.
Another impressive part of this car insurance policy is that it also covers the cost of repairs for damages that may happen to your car while driving, including damages due to bad road conditions.
Comprehensive coverage is another excellent optional coverage that provides excellent coverage and can save you thousands of dollars. Comprehensive insurance covers the cost of repairs needed if your car is damaged due to anything other than collision damage while being parked.
Any damage to your vehicle due to natural disasters such as earthquakes, fires, hailstorms, etc., will be covered under this policy. Damages due to other rare cases, such as vandalism or riots, are also covered.
But the two most important reasons why people get comprehensive insurance are:
- Theft coverage
Comprehensive coverage is relatively cheaper than other auto insurance policies, and while people are not losing their sleep thinking about their car getting damaged due to an earthquake, theft is still a real (and common) threat.
Comprehensive coverage is even more critical for small businesses that have cars. Not only will your vehicles be secured against natural disasters and other damages due to rodents, etc., but you will not have to worry about your cars getting stolen as well.
In case a car gets stolen or totaled due to something covered under comprehensive coverage, the insurance company will pay you the actual cash value of the car (the current market value), which, when combined with the low cost of the insurance policy, makes it totally worth it.
“Uninsured motorist coverage removes the expensive risk of bumping into an uninsured driver, literally.”
Uninsured Motorist Coverage
Uninsured motorist coverage is one of the most important yet most ignored car insurance needed by both businesses and individuals. Uninsured motorist coverage is mandatory in almost twenty states.
So in these states, both business owners and individuals have to get both liability insurance and uninsured motorist coverage. So why is this policy so important?
Uninsured motorist coverage covers the cost of repairs and medical treatments needed when the at-fault driver does not have liability coverage (or has it, but the coverage limit is lacking.)
There are different components of uninsured motorist coverage that cover various damages in a road accident. For example, uninsured motorist property damage (UMPD) covers the cost of repairs to your car, while uninsured motorist bodily injury (UMB) covers the cost of medical treatments.
Uninsured motorist coverage removes the expensive risk of bumping into an uninsured driver, literally.
As a business owner, it is essential that you get this policy so that employees can drive safely. Uninsured motorist coverage can also be claimed in a hit-and-run accident.
GAP insurance is one of the most essential car insurance policies if your car is financed. GAP stands for Guaranteed Assets Protection, and this coverage ensures that any extra money (interests) will be covered by the insurance company in case the financed car is declared a total loss.
When a car is financed, a person takes a loan from a financial institution at an interest rate. For example, if the loan amount is $35,000 for a vehicle with the same MSRP, with interest, the person will have to pay the bank more than $35,000 after a few years. Let’s assume that the extra amount is $5,000.
What happens if the car is totaled after the first year? Since the value of the vehicle depreciates, the actual cash value would be less than the MSRP, so if the owner is reimbursed for the car, the amount will be less than $35,000.
GAP insurance ensures that the insurance company will cover the remaining amount. For businesses that have financed cars, this policy is a must. It prevents you from bearing unnecessary costs.
Hired and Non-Owned Auto Insurance
Hired and Non-Owned Auto Insurance (also called HNOA insurance) is imperative for businesses that lease cars (and do not own them.) Hired vehicles (the policyholders do not own that) are not usually not covered by general liability coverage.
Hired and Non-Owner auto insurance ensures that the leased cars that you or your employees drive have liability coverage. Here’s more information on Hired and Non-Owned auto insurance.
Factors Affecting Auto Insurance Rates
Auto insurance rates are dynamically priced. It means that not only will different people be charged a different rate, but the prices will also keep changing for the same individual or business owner.
These price fluctuations depend on various factors that help car insurance companies assess the risk of the policyholder getting in a car accident and making a claim. Higher the risk, the higher the price of commercial car insurance.
Let’s look at all the factors that affect the rate of both commercial and personal auto insurance.
Driving record is the most important and impactful factor in car insurance pricing. A driving record is strongly indicative of all the risks of a car associated with a driver.
Someone with a poor driving record is more likely to be in a car accident than someone with a clean driving record. Your driving record shows all the accidents, speeding tickets, rash driving charges, etc., and insurance companies consider all of them.
Some charges are more severe than others and have a more significant impact on your car insurance rates as well. Minor violations do not affect your insurance rates as much as severe violations do.
Speeding will increase your insurance rates, but nearly as much as driving under the influence will.
When you buy commercial car insurance, the auto insurance company will examine the driving record of all the registered drivers, and if someone has had a severe car accident or a DUI charge, it is better to take the driver out of the policy and save a lot of money.
Fleet Size and Business Type
The total number of cars or vehicles that are used in your business also impacts the price of the insurance since car insurance companies insure the entire fleet. If the total number of vehicles that operate in your business is high, the cost is also going to be high.
Not just that, but the type of your business also affects commercial insurance rates. For example, some commercial cars are at a higher risk of getting in a road accident than others. It is either due to the area these vehicles operate in or their average monthly mileage.
If a car is driven more or driven in an area where the number of hazards is more, it is more likely to get in an accident or get damaged. A higher risk of damage or accident translates to a higher chance of an insurance claim. Hence car insurance companies increase the price accordingly.
Type of Vehicle
Different businesses need different types of vehicles. The type of vehicles used in your business directly affects the rate of car insurance. Insuring larger vehicles that cost more to buy and repair will cost more.
There are several other factors associated with the make and model of the vehicle insured that affects the rate of car insurance. But the general rule of thumb remains the same; expensive vehicles are expensive to insure.
Past Insurance Claim
Once you make an insurance claim, it takes a lot of time to get rid of its after-effects. Making an insurance claim will increase your auto insurance rates. It does not matter if you try to switch your car insurance company or remain with the same company; you will have to pay inflated rates.
Auto insurance companies make decisions based on statistics, and statistics say that people who have made an insurance claim are more likely to do the same again. It is the reason why car insurance companies charge these people more.
Coverage limit is an integral part of both personal and commercial car insurance. It is the total amount of money the auto insurance company of the policyholder will pay when the policyholder makes an insurance claim.
Each policy has its coverage limit. For example, collision coverage has a specified coverage limit, while comprehensive coverage has its coverage limit.
So let’s say that your collision coverage has a limit of $15,000, and the cost of repairs is around $18,000. In this case, you will have to pay $3,000 from your pockets.
The liability policy’s coverage limit is a crucial thing to note, especially for commercial policyholders and business owners. Each state has its minimum coverage limit, which means that residents’ liability coverage limit must be equal to or greater than the minimum coverage limit.
Age and Driving Experience
The age of the registered driver is a factor in determining the price of car insurance. With age comes experience, and the same is true for the driving experience. Since most of the fatal car accidents that happen in the US are by people under the age of 25, car insurance companies charge this age group the most.
So teenagers who have just received their driver’s licenses will have to pay the most for auto insurance policies. But the good news is that as age increases, car insurance rates decrease.
The same factor is also considered for commercial car insurance. Having a group of experienced drivers who are above the age of 30 would be the best way to save money.
As mentioned before, the ZIP code or the locality in which your business operates or is located affects your car insurance rates greatly. Different areas have different rates of accidents, labor costs, theft, etc.
So if your business is located in an area where the rate of theft is high or the rate of road accidents is high, you will have to pay more. But make sure that you give the correct ZIP code, as many people provide false information about their location. It should be avoided as it comes under insurance fraud.
A deductible is the amount of money that the policyholder has to pay before the auto insurance company pays the rest of the claim amount. It is usually a small percentage of the total claim amount, and policyholders can set their deductible limit.
For example, if the deductible amount is $500 and the total claim amount is $5,000, then the policyholder will pay $500 first. Then the auto insurer will pay the remaining $4,500.
Here’s how deductibles affect car insurance rates; higher deductibles will reduce the insurance premium amount, while lower deductibles will increase the premium.
Please do note that increasing your deductibles is not always the most intelligent option as it does decrease your insurance premium rates, but in case of an accident, you will end up paying more from your pockets.
Also, if the total cost of repairs is under your deductible limit, you cannot make a claim. So consider all your options before you reduce or increase your insurance deductibles.
The total number of policies in your car insurance has a direct effect on your auto insurance rates, as it is obvious. Having five different car insurance policies will cost you or your business more than just having one or two primary mandatory policies.
Car insurance is a complicated topic, and when it comes to insurance for businesses, things get even more convoluted. But there is a simple way to understand the importance of car insurance for small businesses; using a commercial vehicle without the process policies would be like making holes in the ship you are in.
Ensure that cars that are used by your business are protected against all types of damages, including widespread (and sometimes costly) windshield damage.
Car insurance policies do cover windshield damages, but since there could be multiple reasons for the damage, there are different auto insurance policies to cover each one of them.