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SPONSORED: Knowing When you Need Commercial Auto Insurance

Chad Brooks
Chad Brooks
Editor Staff
Mar 28, 2011

Differentiate between Commercial and Personal Auto Insurance with this handy guide

Understanding why you need auto insurance on your personal vehicle is easy.

You want to protect your loved ones and your property and also it is required by law in most states.  Knowing when you need commercial insurance is a completely different matter.  There are certain types of vehicle usage that are not covered under a personal auto policy.  If you own a business and use a vehicle solely for the business then you need commercial vehicle insurance.  Also, if your vehicle has commercial tags on it you should get a commercial policy for it.  If you do not insure your business the same way you insure your house, then why insure your business vehicles the same way you insure your personal auto.  


Here are just some of the things you need to look at before deciding what type of insurance you need on your vehicle: 

The first factor you need to look at is under whose name the vehicle is registered.  When the vehicle is registered in the name of the business then you definitely need commercial auto insurance.  If the vehicle is registered in your name, it does not automatically mean that you should get personal auto insurance on it.  A lot of times a solely owned business will have a vehicle registered in the name of the owner.  If the vehicle is being used primarily for the business though, you will need commercial insurance. 

Who drives?:
Another sign that you need a commercial auto insurance policy is if other employees at your company are driving the car.  Commercial insurance policies allow you to list employees as drivers so that the insurance company can properly underwrite the risk on the vehicle. 

Business Use:
The next question you need to ask yourself is, “Is the vehicle getting regular business use?” A vehicle getting regular business use is defined as one that is used for commercial purposes, on average, more than 3 times in a 1 month period. If your answer is “Yes,” then commercial insurance is right for you.  

  • What is Business Use?: Before we discuss what constitutes business use lets talk about what business use isn’t.  Only driving to and from your principal place of work is considered commuting and does not need a commercial insurance policy.  This is covered under a standard personal auto policy.  If you use the same vehicle to then travel to clients or job sites, depending on how often you do this and the nature of your work, you might need commercial insurance. Also if you do any of the following, get a quote for commercial vehicle insurance and properly protect you and your business. 
    • Carrying Equipment (ladders, supplies, tools, etc)
    • Carrying Hazardous (or flammable) material
    • Carrying Housekeeping Equipment for a business
    • Equipped with cranes, winches, snowplows (not for use on private property only)
    • Towing for Hire
    • Delivery of Goods (including but no restricted to pizza, flowers, wholesale, retail)
    • Rural Newspaper Delivery
    • Trucking – Local and long haul
    • Messenger, deliverer, chauffer
    • Taxi driver

Policy Add-ons: If you need one of the following additions to your auto policy then your needs are probably best met by a commercial policy:

  • Coverage for a third party as an additional insured.
  • Waiver of subrogation.
  • Liability coverage for hired or non-owned vehicles.
  • Liability coverage for mobile equipment.

Acceptable Business Usage: Not all business use requires a commercial insurance policy.  Some forms of business use are covered by a personal auto policy.  Still, let your insurance agent know about these so they can tailor the policy to better protect you. These are a few of the business uses that are covered under your personal auto policy.

  • A Mary Kay or Tupperware type of business is covered, as long as it is not your primary occupation.  If this type of business is your full time job or mileage is excessive (more than 100 miles/day, 500 miles/week), use stops being incidental and therefore you should look into a commercial auto policy.
  • Real estate agents, lawyers, accountants, clergy, doctors, and consultants that carry clients on a regular basis may do so under a personal auto policy.
  • Home health care and social workers’ vehicles can be covered under a personal auto policy, provided that they do not regularly transport people.

Learn More

If you are still not sure whether you need commercial auto insurance, call GEICO at 1-866-509-9444 or get a commercial auto insurance quote online.

Please Note: The above-listed tips are for informational use only. Refer to your insurance policy contract for specific information regarding your coverages and for actual terms, conditions and exclusions. The above statements are general in nature and may or may not reflect the actual terms of your insurance policy.

Coverage is underwritten by Government Employees Insurance Company and in some cases coverage is provided through GEICO Insurance Agency, Inc., which has made an arrangement with National Indemnity Company (NICO), a Berkshire Hathaway affiliate. Some discounts, coverages, payment plans and features are not available in all states or in all GEICO companies. See for more details. Government Employees Insurance Co. is a subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway Inc. GEICO: Washington DC 20076. © 2009 GEICO

Image Credit:

SFIO CRACHO/Shutterstock

Chad Brooks
Chad Brooks Staff
Chad Brooks is a writer and editor with more than 20 years of media of experience. He has been with Business News Daily and for the past decade, having written and edited content focused specifically on small businesses and entrepreneurship. Chad spearheads coverage of small business communication services, including business phone systems, video conferencing services and conference call solutions. His work has appeared on The Huffington Post,,, Live Science, IT Tech News Daily, Tech News Daily, Security News Daily and Laptop Mag. Chad's first book, How to Start a Home-Based App Development Business, was published in 2014.