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Businesses in Canada with commercial vehicles on the road require a commercial auto insurance policy. Commercial auto insurance policies may include optional coverages that you might not typically see with your personal-use car insurance policy. The reason for this is that some business vehicles may have unique, specialized needs that pertain specifically to machinery or equipment that is part of the vehicle, trailer or both. Regardless of the number of commercial vehicles you own, insurance is required for all of the cars, vans and trucks that your business uses. Often you'll find that if you have 4 or more commercial vehicles, instead of simply being called commercial auto insurance it is referred to as fleet insurance.
What is a commercial vehicle or business vehicle?
A commercial vehicle is a motor vehicle used primarily to transport materials, goods, tools or equipment that relates to your occupation. It also includes trailers that are intended for use with said commercial vehicles.
What are the typical coverages included in a commercial auto insurance policy?
Commercial auto insurance policies include, for the most part, the same mandatory coverages and offer the same optional coverages as the auto insurance policy you have for your private, personal-use automobile.
The following is a list of some of the most common mandatory and optional commercial auto insurance coverages that may be included in your business vehicle insurance policy (mandatory coverages and availability of optional coverages will vary by province. As well, given that each province is unique, there may be coverages not listed here. Always speak to a licensed commercial auto insurance representative when making decisions about, or to answer your specific questions regarding, commercial auto insurance):
- Accident benefits coverage: Compulsory almost everywhere in Canada. It varies by province but in general provides compensation for medical and rehabilitation treatments, funeral expenses, loss of income due to disability and death.
- Third-party liability coverage: Also known as Civil Liability in Quebec, provides coverage if while driving your company's vehicle, the driver is held legally liable for injures to someone else, or for damages to another's property. If the driver is held liable for more than the coverage, your company may be responsible for the balance. Third-party liability coverage is compulsory in all provinces and territories, although the minimum amount of coverage needed may vary.
- Uninsured, underinsured or unidentified motorist coverage: This coverage is universal across Canada. While it may be called something different, or split into two or more coverage types, the principles are the same. Uninsured, underinsured or unidentified motorist coverage provides payment (the amounts vary among the provinces) if the person driving your company vehicle is injured or killed through the fault of an uninsured/underinsured driver, or by an unidentified vehicle like in a hit-and-run.
- Direct compensation - Property damage: In Ontario, Quebec and New Brunswick, Direct Compensation - Property Damage coverage provides for damage to your vehicle and any property inside that is permanently attached, because of an automobile accident where your company vehicle's driver is not-at-fault or partially not-at-fault.
- Collision coverage: Collision is an optional coverage that is the portion of your policy that protects your vehicle if it is damaged in an accident. There is usually a deductible.
- Comprehensive coverage: Comprehensive coverage, like Collision, is optional. It protects your vehicle against loss or damage resulting from something other than a collision. Comprehensive coverage usually applies in the case of loss or damage from falling or flying objects, theft and vandalism. There is usually a deductible.
- Family protection coverage: Family Protection provides coverage for the vehicle's driver from the actions of an at-fault, uninsured or underinsured driver. If available, Family Protection ensures coverage up to your commercial auto insurance policy's limits regardless of the other person's coverage levels.
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