Understanding Your Greenhouse’s Commercial Auto Policy and What it Protects

Hortica Commercial Auto InsuranceAs a greenhouse operator, your risk concerns may revolve around your stock, structures, and employees. That’s understandable. But don’t forget your vehicle operations when it comes to potential risk.

As part of your greenhouse business, you likely make deliveries, haul equipment, visit clients, or run errands as part of daily duties. Anytime you or one of your employees hits the road, accidents can happen.

Depending on your operation, drivers can be a large exposure for your company. I’ve shared some of the primary driver risks and mitigation tactics previously. The other safety net for your business is ensuring you have adequate insurance coverage for your vehicles.

As a business owner, it’s important to understand what your commercial auto policy covers — and what it doesn’t. Let’s examine the basics of commercial auto insurance so you can make an informed decision when insuring vehicles for your greenhouse business.

What Does Commercial Auto Insurance Cover?

A commercial auto insurance policy consists of several types of coverage options designed to help protect your vehicles, your assets, and your business. The policy typically covers vehicles owned, rented, or leased by your greenhouse business. It also provides protection if you or your employees drive personal vehicles for business or use company cars for both business and personal purposes.

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Here are some of the primary commercial auto coverage options and what they cover. With each option, evaluate what limit you want based on asset value, likelihood of occurrence, and what you can afford.

  • Comprehensive auto coverage: There’s always a chance one of your company vehicles could be damaged on a jobsite or in a parking lot. Comprehensive auto insurance helps cover damage caused by something other than a collision, such as falling tree limbs, hail, animal damage, and even fire.
  • Collision auto coverage: Your company vehicles may spend a lot of time on the road, increasing the risk of an accident. Collision insurance helps cover damage to your vehicle when they hit (or are hit by) another vehicle — or if the vehicle collides with a fixed object.
  • Bodily injury liability: If there’s an accident and another driver, passenger, or pedestrian is hurt or killed, bodily injury liability insurance provides protection for damages if you or your driver are at fault.
  • Property damage: If you or one of your drivers damages someone else’s property (e.g., their car, a fence, or an overhang), liability coverage helps protect your business if you’re found liable for the damage.
  • Uninsured/underinsured motorist: You make sure your business vehicles are insured, but not all drivers do the same. According to the Insurance Research Council, in 2022, 14% of U.S. drivers operated a private passenger vehicle without liability insurance. Uninsured motorist and underinsured motorist coverages help with expenses that would’ve been paid by an at-fault driver who doesn’t have any — or enough — insurance.

There are other coverage options available that may be advantageous to your operations, such as towing and rental reimbursement. After all, different driving tasks need different commercial auto policy coverages. Consult with your insurance provider to review and select the best options for your business.

How Much Does a Commercial Auto Policy Cost?

There is no set price for a commercial auto policy. Every policy is different based on the type of business, location, number of vehicles/drivers, age of vehicles, how the vehicle is used, distance driven, and even past loss history.

The more risk associated with your company vehicles, the more your premiums are likely to cost. For greenhouses, some specific risks include:

  • Frequency of deliveries or visits to clients
  • High-mileage vehicles logging extensive hours on the road
  • Employees using company vehicles for sales calls or transportation
  • Past driving records of the employees operating vehicles
  • Type of vehicles and cargo transported (hazmat, live plants, etc.)

Other factors can play into your premium costs. In the past few years, commercial vehicle insurance rates have risen due to factors such as inflation and labor shortages, which are leading to higher prices across all markets and industries.

Examples of additional factors that can increase premiums include:

  • Higher repair costs: The cost to repair or replace vehicles has increased, in part due to the ever-increasing technology incorporated into today’s vehicles. This leads to higher claim costs for physical damages.
  • Increasingly expensive court verdicts: Case judgements against businesses also continue to rise. In an American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI) study of 600 commercial vehicle accidents involving court cases from 2010-2018, it was found that verdict awards increased by 51.7% per year.

Commercial Auto Insurance may not be Optional — and Neither Is Safety

If you or your drivers are involved in an accident and don’t have commercial auto insurance, you might find yourself facing an expense you didn’t expect and didn’t include in your operating budget.

Aside from helping to protect against potential losses, commercial auto insurance is required in almost every state. Even in the states where it isn’t required, drivers can still be held liable for damages.

Whether caused by bad weather, a distracted driver, or another vehicle on the road, accidents happen. No matter the size of your greenhouse business, a commercial auto insurance policy — paired with safe drivers—can be a cost-effective way to help keep your vehicles on the road and your deliveries on schedule.

As you review your policy, I encourage you to talk with your team and local experts to determine a plan specific to your business and driving needs. In the meantime, I’m happy to answer any of your questions.

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