Commercial auto insurance covers legal fees and other expenses if a business-owned vehicle is involved in an accident. It's required for all commercial vehicles in New York.
Any New York company that uses vehicles for business purposes must insure them appropriately. Commercial auto insurance covers vehicles owned by your business, while hired and non-owned auto insurance (HNOA) covers personal, rented, and leased vehicles used by your business.
Your personal auto insurance policy covers you while driving to and from work, but not while making deliveries, picking up supplies, and other work-specific uses. A business auto policy would cover you and your personal vehicle in case you’re at fault for an accident during a work-related errand.
Your business could be in legal and financial jeopardy without commercial auto insurance coverage. In New York, all vehicles are required to carry auto liability insurance.
If one of your business vehicles is at fault in an accident, you could face an expensive lawsuit or settlement. You’d likely have to pay for damage to the other vehicle or property, medical costs, lost wages, pain and suffering, plus other related costs.
Additionally, you could face severe penalties for not carrying commercial auto insurance. Driving without insurance could result in a fine of up to $1,500 in New York. If you're involved in an accident, the state will revoke your driver license and vehicle registration for at least one year and fine you $750 to get your license back.
If your insurance lapses, you may have to pay a civil penalty or turn in your license plates to the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).
All vehicles in the state of New York are required to have a minimum amount of auto liability insurance coverage, whether they’re for personal or business use. New York's insurance requirements are:
Your insurance agency might recommend higher liability coverage limits based on the types of vehicles you own and how they’re used.
In addition, personal injury protection (PIP) insurance is required in New York. This add-on coverage helps provide medical payments coverage after a car accident, regardless of who was at fault, and is mandated as part of the state's minimum vehicle insurance requirements.
Semi-trucks, tractor-trailers, and other vehicles with a U.S. Department of Transportation of New York serial number will have additional liability coverage requirements, depending on the type of vehicle and how it’s used.
You can see if your business needs these additional requirements by checking your USDOT number or docket number with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.
If you’re using your own vehicle for work-specific activities, your personal auto policy wouldn’t cover you in the case of an accident. That’s why many small business owners purchase hired and non-owned auto insurance (HNOA). This liability policy covers accidents in personal, leased, and rented vehicles used for work purposes.
If you or an employee gets into an accident while driving a personal car for a work errand, your HNOA coverage would help pay for any claims or lawsuits against your business. It’s worth noting that this would not cover damage to the vehicle used by your business.
While every New York business owner must meet the minimum requirements for business auto insurance, this mandate only applies to liability coverage. This can protect you if one of your vehicles causes an accident, but it does not insure you against a mishap caused by someone else.
It’s worth considering these other commercial auto coverage options to make sure you’re fully protected:
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