A severe storm should not interrupt the way you run your business, and that includes the ability to keep making journeys and deliveries on time. If your company relies on a fleet of vehicles for daily operations, shattered windows and pock-marked bodywork from a hailstorm can cause a hit to both your wallet and your reputation. Attorney Bill Voss takes a look at the hail damage coverage options and exceptions for commercial vehicles, and when you may want to increase coverage for large vehicle fleets.
Hail Can Damage All of the Commercial Vehicles Used in Your Business
While damage to even one company vehicle can mean thousands of dollars in repairs, those costs increase exponentially if your business has a large fleet of vehicles. Long-haul trucking companies and delivery services may be more likely to suffer vehicle damage, but taxi companies, car rental services, and even hotels and nightclubs with shuttle services can have major losses that lead to out-of-pocket expenses.
You can greatly reduce hail damage to your business’ vehicles by:
- Purchasing comprehensive coverage. You may have purchased liability and collision coverage for costs associated with an accident, but this coverage will not pay for repairs costs caused by bad weather. Comprehensive physical coverage protects against all non-accident-related damage, including hail, theft, vandalism, or fire.
- Insuring both large and small vehicles. When buying commercial auto insurance, it pays to consider the value of all of the vehicles used in your business. If you have a large resort, your policy should include your restaurant’s delivery vans, staff golf carts, rented pedicabs, and other motorized and non-motorized transport.
- Investing in dedicated vehicle housing. Some vehicles are too large to be parked indoors, and some smaller vehicles may not be fully protected in aluminum sheds. Make sure you are following your insurer’s requirements for housing vehicles, and make sure any structures are in good condition to protect your vehicles.
- Training employees. Your employees should be well-versed in how to protect both themselves and vehicles if a hail storm occurs during a drive. Safety measures include pulling off the roadway, parking the vehicle in the nearest covered garage or carport, and performing essential trips only when hail is predicted.
- Claiming all covered losses. It can be tempting only to claim vehicles that have the most damage, such as those with smashed windows, broken lights, or punctured roofs. However, you should think twice about using a car with dented bodywork to represent your business. Aesthetic damage may leave your vehicle in road-legal condition, but it may cost you in customer satisfaction and reviews.
- Filing a claim on time. A severe storm can affect hundreds of businesses at once, so you will want to make sure you file a claim as quickly as possible. Once you have fully documented your losses with pictures and financial estimates, contact your insurance company to report the losses and make a detailed claim.
- Keeping track of repair costs. You may need to perform temporary repairs, discard any lost cargo, and release the cars to a mechanic once your insurance agent has assessed the damage. It is vital that you keep all receipts and track all costs you have paid up front in order to get full compensation from your insurance company.
- Planning for business income loss. If your vehicles are out of commission, you will likely not be able to serve as many customers until they are restored—and your customers will likely go elsewhere in the meantime. Business interruption coverage can be used to replace the amount of income you would normally receive while your vehicles are undergoing repair.
If you are having trouble getting the full value of your hail damage claim from your insurance company, the Voss Law Firm can investigate the details, examine your policy, and fight on your behalf. Simply fill out the contact form on this page today or order a free copy of our book, Commercial Property Owners Must Read This BEFORE Filing an Insurance Claim.