Explaining business car insurance and other ways to protect your company vehicles from a hurricane 

Key takeaways:

  • Commercial vehicles need protection during hurricane season 
  • Commercial auto insurance doesn’t always cover hurricane damage
  • There are preventative measures you can take to mitigate vehicle damage and losses

It’s hurricane season again. As a Floridian, you know how much damage hurricanes – and even tropical storms – can cause. If you’re a Florida business owner, you should have a plan to protect your employees and commercial property. However, you may not have given much thought to safeguarding the vehicles you use for business purposes.  

No disaster preparedness plan is complete without plans to protect your commercial vehicles. In this article, we’ll discuss preventative measures you can take to avoid loss and whether your current business car insurance policy is enough to cover any damage your vehicles experience.

Defining business car insurance

Business auto insurance covers vehicles used for business purposes, including those that transport inventory, materials, and people. Most states require it, including Florida. Most commercial policies in our state provide liability coverage for property damage, injuries, or deaths if you or an employee is found to be at fault in an accident. Insurance companies in Florida are required to offer at least $10,000 in uninsured motorist bodily injury coverage per person. 

Commercial auto insurance covers:

  • Liability
  • Medical payments
  • Uninsured/underinsured motorists
  • Comprehensive and collision coverage

Commercial auto insurance covers almost any vehicle used for your business, including cars, vans (passenger or delivery), and trucks used by the company. Business policies can also cover motorcycles, boats, jet skis, ATVs, RVs, and snowmobiles. Your policy should also cover vehicles you rent, lease, or hire. 

Who needs commercial auto insurance?

It can sometimes be difficult to know if you need a commercial auto policy. For instance, what if you use your car to pick up lunch for the office or drive to a business meeting? In those cases, your personal auto policy should cover you. However, there are scenarios where you would need coverage for business vehicles:

  • The car is solely used for work and/or is a company car
  • You transport goods or people for work
  • You conduct business services in your vehicle
  • You tow or haul tools and/or equipment in a business vehicle
  • Your employees drive a business vehicle
  • The company owns the truck or van
  • You need high liability insurance limits

Heavy-duty trucks over 26,000 GVW that carry certain materials or hazardous liquids might need extra minimum coverage. 

  • Liability Insurance for Oil Transport: $1,000,000
  • Liability Insurance for Hazmat $5,000,000
  • Liability Insurance for Household Goods $300,000
  • Liability Insurance for General Freight $750,000

Why you need a hurricane plan for commercial vehicles

Commercial vehicles are a valuable asset for your business. If daily operations rely on deliveries or transporting people, goods, or materials, your vehicles may be essential to keep your business running. Hurricanes pose many hazards to any car, from heavy rain and winds to flooding, tornadoes, and even landslides. 

Hurricane coverage

Your comprehensive policy does cover many things, including fire, flooding, wind, hail, lightning, falling objects, theft, and vandalism. What about damage due to hurricanes? 

Many standard policies in Florida – especially those in coastal areas – exclude coverage for damage caused by hurricanes. In that case, you’d need to purchase a policy specifically for hurricanes. Review your policy to see what’s covered (and what’s not). Be sure to review how much coverage you have. If you bought new vehicles, they might be worth more than your policy limit. 

Note: It’s essential to take care of this now because you won’t be able to change your policy once a storm approaches. Sit down with your insurance agent and ensure you have the right policies and coverage.

Aside from ensuring you have business car insurance, what else can you do to protect your investment? Here are 7 tips to help.

1. Drive vehicles away from the path of the storm

If you have time, drive your commercial vehicles out of the hurricane’s predicted path. It may mean taking them to another state, but it is the safest thing to do. Just be sure to allow plenty of time for the drive. As you know, traffic usually gets backed up on the highways, making it difficult to travel anywhere fast.

2. Move vehicles to a safe place

It might be a challenge, but do your best to store all commercial vehicles in a safe place from the winds and water. If you don’t have enough garage space on your property, consider using a commercial garage. Some communities open up public parking garages that anyone can use during hurricanes (without charge). Park on an upper floor that’s as protected from the wind/rain as possible. 

Other options:

  • Park under a well-built overhead cover
  • Park next to a building to block some of the wind
  • Park somewhere elevated to avoid flooding

Note: Never park near power lines, trees, hanging traffic lights, road signs, or driveways covered by gravel or rocks.

3. Park vehicles under a covered area if you’re storing them on your property

If you plan to store vehicles on your property, park them inside or under a covered area. Put them well away from windows and doors. It’s also a good idea to inspect the building’s roof well before hurricane season. You’ll want to get that done if the roof needs repair or replacement.

If possible, store vehicles in multiple buildings or at different facilities. You won’t lose all your cars if there’s damage to one building or worksite. 

4. Remove exterior accessories and equipment

Exterior accessories and add-ons include anything not permanently attached to a vehicle. We’re talking about removable antennas, bike racks, and roof racks. Be sure to remove exterior equipment and tools, such as ladders and cargo or tools you keep in truck beds. These objects could come loose during a hurricane and cause injuries or damage to other vehicles or property. 

5. Cover your windows

Try covering vehicle windows with thick blankets. Use the door jams to hold everything in place. You can use wide masking tape on windows, windshields, and other glass if you have no other option. It won’t completely protect the glass, but it might keep it from shattering. 

6. Top off gas tanks

Many gas stations have backup generators so people can pump gas despite a widespread power outage. However, generators can fail or might not be powerful enough to keep the gas flowing. Fill up all gas tanks before the hurricane approaches, so you’ll be able to use your vehicles once the storm passes.

7. Avoid flooded areas

This rule mainly applies after a hurricane. Don’t attempt to drive through flooded streets unless your vehicle is elevated off the ground or built to withstand water damage. Even a foot of water can permanently damage a car’s engine and electrical systems. It can also be dangerous as you won’t be able to control the vehicle if you lose traction. 

Hurricane preparedness plan for commercial vehicles

Hurricanes are responsible for an estimated $136 billion in damage in Florida. As a business owner, you must have plans to protect your life’s work. Your goals should include safeguarding your commercial vehicles. Business car insurance is one part of the puzzle. These seven tips will also play a role in ensuring your company can keep rolling.

Avante Insurance offers business auto policies as well as an array of other commercial insurance for your business:

We can help you secure the right policies for your needs. Contact us today to request a quote. 

This blog and website are made available by the publisher for educational and informational purposes only. It is not to be used as a substitute for competent insurance, legal, or tax advice from a licensed professional in your state.