Commercial auto insurance covers legal fees and other expenses if a business-owned vehicle is involved in an accident. Although not required, it's strongly recommended for all commercial vehicles in Virginia.
Any Virginia company that uses vehicles for business purposes should 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.
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.
While Virginia is one of the only states to not require drivers to carry auto insurance, if you are applying for registration of a motor vehicle and declare it to be insured, you must be able to present insurance at all times.
If your registration states that your vehicle is insured and it is discovered that you do not own auto insurance for it, you could face severe penalties. In this event, your license plates and/or vehicle registration could be suspended. They can only be reinstated upon the payment of a statutory fee of $600, furnishing and maintaining proof of financial responsibility for three years, and potentially paying a reinstatement fee.
Business vehicles in Virginia do not need to be covered by commercial auto insurance, but drivers must prove they can pay for losses in an accident.
At the time of vehicle registration, the motor vehicle owner must certify whether the vehicle is insured or uninsured. If it is uninsured, they must pay the state's Uninsured Motor Vehicle Fee in addition to standard registration fees.
Virginia's minimum auto liability 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.
Semi-trucks, tractor-trailers, and other vehicles with a Virginia Department of Transportation 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. However, this type of insurance will not cover damage to the vehicle used by your business.
While every Virginia 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: