If you’re self-employed or an independent contractor, your personal car insurance might not cover you in a work-related accident.
If you have a business vehicle, then you need commercial auto insurance.
Every state requires this coverage for vehicles that are registered to a business, or the ability to compensate someone in case of an auto accident. In the event of an accident, your commercial auto policy would cover the legal bills, medical expenses, and property damage.
For the self-employed and independent contractors, your personal auto insurance might not cover you when you drive your own vehicle for business use. If you drive your personal vehicle for work, you should consider hired and non-owned auto insurance (HNOA) to make sure you're protected.
Each state has its own laws requiring minimum amounts of bodily injury liability and property damage liability coverage for both personal and commercial vehicles. States also carry their own penalties for not carrying auto insurance.
For example, drivers without auto insurance in California can face a fine of more than $350, have their vehicle impounded, and potentially see an increase in auto insurance rates.
If you use a personal, leased, or rented vehicle for work, a hired and non-owned auto insurance policy can offer similar protection to your personal auto insurance.
HNOA offers liability protection for the self-employed, independent contractors, and small business owners when they use their own car or a leased or rented vehicle for work. It covers you during work-related errands, such as making deliveries, picking up supplies, or visiting clients. If you get into an accident, it'll pay your legal costs, along with any judgments or settlements.
This policy doesn’t cover accidents that occur while you’re commuting or running personal errands. It also doesn't cover physical damage to your vehicle.
Any independent contractor or self-employed professional who has a vehicle owned by their business or registered to their business needs to carry commercial auto insurance. This coverage is particularly important in professions where driving is a key part of conducting business, such as:
Small business owners can typically deduct their insurance premiums as a business expense that’s deducted from your taxable income, if the policies serve a business purpose. A tax professional can help you determine which types of insurance premiums you can deduct on your tax return.
While commercial auto insurance and HNOA coverage make sense for independent contractors who drive for work, there are other policies you might consider.
If a client is injured at your workplace, it could result in an expensive lawsuit. If you operate your business out of your home, it’s unlikely that your renter’s or homeowner’s insurance would cover this.
General liability insurance gives you financial protection from such third-party accidents.
Commercial property insurance offers financial protection for your workspace and its contents, and is often required by landlords to sign a lease. If you own or rent a workspace, or if you have expensive equipment, inventory, and other business assets, commercial property insurance would help pay for the repair or replacement if your business property is stolen, damaged, or destroyed.
If you intend to buy both general liability and commercial property coverage, you can reduce your insurance costs by bundling them into a business owner’s policy (BOP). It combines both coverages under one policy, and usually has lower insurance premiums than buying each policy separately from the insurance company.
Errors and omissions insurance, also known as E&O or professional liability insurance, can offset the cost of a lawsuit if a dissatisfied client sues you over your work. Those who offer professional advice and services buy this coverage in case a client accuses them of making a mistake, missing a deadline, or failing to deliver on a contract.
Workers' compensation covers medical costs and lost wages from work-related injuries and illnesses. It’s required in most states for businesses that have employees. Some independent contractors are required to have this coverage to work in riskier professions, such as roofing and building trades.
People who work for themselves and don’t have any employees generally aren’t required to have workers’ comp insurance, but it's still a good idea to carry coverage. Health insurance can deny claims for work-related injuries, which means you could end up facing medical bills and lost income while unable to earn a living.