Most New Zealand businesses find themselves on the road in some capacity: from self-employed consultants travelling from client to client, to large freight companies that earn their money by getting from A to B, to everything in between, such as trade businesses, food trucks, on-the-road salespeople, construction companies and more.
And as we all know, the road can be a risky place. But with the right commercial vehicle insurance policy, you can ensure an incident with your vehicle can be insured.
While it’s always recommended to have some sort of insurance for a vehicle, private car insurance policies aren’t designed to cover vehicles that are used for business purposes. As such, if you’re operating a vehicle in a commercial capacity, you’ll need commercial motor vehicle insurance.
Along with providing proper insurance coverage for your vehicle, commercial vehicle insurance can also include a number of business-specific benefits, such as covering you for legal liability, and load recovery (and cleaning up).
Commercial vehicle insurance comes in three main levels:
Make sure to carefully read the commercial vehicle insurance policy document and policy wordings to understand the extent of the insurance coverage and any exclusions or conditions that may apply.
Commercial vehicle insurance is known by a number of names: business car insurance, business vehicle insurance, commercial car insurance and more.
The important thing to know is that all of these variations mean the same thing: in terms of this type of insurance, the words ‘commercial’ and ‘business’ are interchangeable, and the words ‘vehicle’ and ‘car’ are interchangeable.
The main distinction is that business and commercial policies are different from policies designed for personal use.
You may run a large or particularly vehicle-reliant business. Can commercial vehicle insurance cover your entire fleet, or do you need to take out coverage for each individual vehicle?
The good news is that if you have 15 or more vehicles in your fleet, you can take out commercial motor fleet insurance. This replaces a number of individual policies with a single fleet policy, which can greatly reduce the administrative burden and make the management of your fleet easier. It can also result in a better deal on a per-vehicle basis. These cost and time savings can be compelling.
Like single vehicle policies, you can choose between third-party, third-party fire and theft, and comprehensive levels, and you can shape your fleet policy in a way that suits your needs. Some comprehensive fleet policies go so far as to cover your employees’ vehicles, up to the sum insured, if they need to use it to carry out their duties.
Commercial vehicle liability cover is designed to cover your business against the unavoidable risks that come with owning commercial vehicles, such as being legally liable for an employee causing unintended personal injury or property damage while on the road.
Commercial liability cover is generally included as part of all three levels of commercial vehicle insurance and can cover your legal liability to third parties, including covering defence costs and damages resulting from an accident.
You may also be covered for your liability under the Sentencing Amendment Act 2014 in cases where you’re ordered by the court to pay reparation for the victim’s lost income or medical costs.
There are a number of factors that are taken into account when calculating your commercial vehicle insurance premium. These can include the type of vehicle being insured, its market value or agreed value, its location, what it will be used for, the items it will carry (the damage or accidental loss of things like freight, stock, business assets, etc.), and your claims history. These factors may also affect any additional terms or scope of your cover.
Vehicle modifications can indeed affect your commercial vehicle policy. You must advise the insurer of any modifications when you take the policy out and of any subsequent modifications after the policy commences. These might include engine modifications, signwriting or the addition of permanent accessories.
If you fail to declare modifications, your vehicle may not be covered in the event that you need to make a claim.
Can employees drive your commercial vehicles if they have not yet obtained their full licence? The answer to this question will depend on your policy. Some policies outline a minimum driver age or require drivers to have a full licence, while others allow learners and other restricted drivers to operate the vehicle provided they are obeying the conditions of their licence.
Business vehicle insurance can be included within a broader business insurance policy. This can make the process of tailoring the policy to your needs slightly easier, as the insurer will have already developed an understanding of your business needs.
The information in this blog is of a general nature and does not constitute financial or other professional advice. Policy limits and exclusions apply - refer to the policy wording for full terms and conditions.