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OWNER OPERATOR INSURANCE


Owner operators are individuals who own their own trucking business. They may operate under their own authority under their own MC number or they may lease on to another motor carrier.  We will discuss owner operator insurance coverage types.

If you want your own authority, you will need to apply for this through the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). You will need to prove that you have the minimum liability limits as required by FMCSA and pay a $300 filing fee. You can go to their website at https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/registration/get-mc-number-authority-operate to see the steps to apply for your own authority.

If you do haul under your own authority, then you will need to have these required limits of auto liability, (in some cases) cargo liability, and an active MC number. The proof of insurance, as sent to the FMCSA by your insurance company, are referred to as filings. These filings are delivered to the FMCSA as proof that you have the minimum liability limits.

For those not hauling under their own motor carrier authority, we want to discuss several coverage options.

NON-TRUCKING LIABILITY and BOBTAIL LIABILITY

If you decide to lease on to another motor carrier and haul under their authority, then they will carry the primary liability insurance. If this is the case, you still need to have a non-trucking liability insurance policy. This covers you when you are not under dispatch for that motor carrier. Non-trucking liability is also commonly referred to as bobtail liability. This is not accurate. We will discuss the difference later in this article.

The cost is typically much less for this coverage type then truckers liability insurance due to the limited time that coverage come in to play. You do not want to be without this coverage in the event that you are in accident when you are not driving under another carrier’s authority.

PHYSICAL DAMAGE COVERAGE

If you are financing your truck then the lienholder or bank will require you to have physical damage coverage to cover the damage to the vehicle in the event of a claim. This comprehensive and collision coverage will cover those losses.

Even if you are not financing the vehicle, you want to seriously consider this coverage to put you back to where you were before the accident occurred.

CARGO INSURANCE

Cargo insurance covers the load you are hauling. Depending on several factors, the FMCSA may require you to have a certain amount of cargo insurance. Even if this isn’t required by the FMCSA then you may be required to have it by the contract you are in with the motor carrier. There are various coverage and deductible options for cargo insurance. You will need to explore these options versus the requirements you may have along with what suits your needs.

TRUCKER’S GENERAL LIABILITY

Trucker’s general liability or motor truck general liability covers losses to property damage or bodily injury due to your negligence, not related to operating your truck. This is the least common coverage type of those discussed but you may have a contract requirement that would cause you to purchase this insurance.

The expense of this policy is generally much cheaper than the other coverage types so you should consider purchasing this policy even if it is not required, to protect yourself from any coverage gaps.

WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN NON-TRUCKING LIABILITY AND BOBTAIL LIABILITY

Non-trucking liability typically comes into play when you are using your truck for any personal use whatsoever. If you are involved in a large accident then it will be up to the insurance carriers, and in some cases, the courts to determine who is responsible for paying for the damages. The motor carrier you are hauling for would be responsible for the liability while you are driving under their authority. It is also in the opinion of the court in many instances that they would also be responsible for liability losses during your drive home.

Bobtail liability will cover you when you not hauling a load or trailer. If you drop off a load for one carrier and you are on your way to pick up a load for another carrier, this is when your bobtail liability would come into play.

The FMCSA will not require you to have non-trucking liability or bobtail liability since you are not under motor trucking authority. Many contracts will also not require this coverage from you since they are only responsible when you are hauling for them. This leaves the choice up to you. Since you own your truck, when there is a loss you will be responsible. When a loss occurs while driving a large truck, the loss amount can be significant and could cripple you and your business financially. Don’t wait until after the loss to consider this very important coverage.

Trucking can be a very lucrative career and the need for this industry doesn’t seem to be going away anytime soon. The start-up of a trucking company can be a daunting task. The insurance part of that start-up is probably one of the most common areas of confusion to new businesses and trucking veterans alike. We realize this and have therefore put a trained staff in place to help you with any questions. Please contact us at 704-494-9495 for any help with these topics.

 

BAR AND NIGHT CLUB INSURANCE

Bars and night clubs have various insurance coverage needs that are exclusive from those of many other kinds of businesses. We will talk about many of those different coverage options that will protect your business from various types of insurance claims.

Many companies shy away from offering coverage for certain types of risks like night clubs, restaurants, wine bars, topless clubs, cigar bars, lounges, hookahs, sports bars, dance halls, comedy clubs, and pool bars just to name a few. You will want to make sure that you do your research and find a company that will not only give you a reasonable premium, but will also offer the coverages you need.

You never know when you will have a claim and you don’t want to be at risk for having certain exclusions on your policy when it is too late. You should at least understand the many different coverages that are available. Once you educate yourself on what these coverages are, you can determine what chance you think that you will incur any of these claims.

Some of the more popular coverage options for bars and nightclubs are:

General Liability Insurance:

Insurance for bodily injury or property damage on your premises.

Liquor Liability Insurance:

Provides liability coverage for bodily injury or property damage by intoxicated patrons of your establishment. General liability insurance will not cover you for losses pertaining to intoxicated guests.

Bouncer Liability Insurance:

Covers physical harm by employed bouncers to your patrons. Also covers injury to your employed bouncers.

Assault and Battery Liability Insurance:

Provides liability if fights occur while on the premises and patrons are injured. This coverage must be in place if you want coverage for these types of losses as a general liability policy will exclude these losses as well.

Workers Compensation Insurance:

Covers injuries to your employees while on the job. Working in a fast paced environment with food and beverages can greatly increase the likelihood of an injury to your employees.

Cyber Security:

Insurance coverage on things like the misuse of data or illegally obtained client data. Don’t expose yourself to a claim scenario like your clients credit data being illegally obtained and used.

These are just some of the coverage options that you could choose from. Understand that, as is the case in many commercial policies, there are many endorsements that can be added to your policy that can cover losses like employee dishonesty, damage to outdoor signs or windows, employee discrimination complaints, and many, many others.

Rates can vary greatly depending on several factors.

Some of these factors include:

Hours of operation

Types of entertainment

Capacity of patrons

Location of your establishment

Annual sales

Annual payroll

Types of coverage chosen

Years experience or years in business

Loss history.

Every establishment is different and you want to make sure that you discuss your needs with an agent that specializes in these forms of coverages and policy types to make sure that you minimize your losses. Whether you have a quiet lounge or a tavern with a mechanical bull, bad things can happen that can put you out of business unless you are properly insured.

Call and talk with an agent today to see what coverages would be recommended for your establishment. Our agents can be reached at 704-494-9495.

Commercial Auto Coverage Options

Commercial auto insurance has several coverage options that you should familiarize yourself with and determine if they are right for your business. We will discuss several of these below.

Hired Auto

Gives Liability coverage for a non-owned or unlisted vehicle that is leased, rented, hired, or borrowed by the insured for incidental operation of the business.

Owned Auto Coverage

Provides Liability coverage for vehicles owned by the named insured and any owned vehicles acquired during the policy period.

Non Owned Auto

Extends Liability coverage to any non-owned vehicle that is used by an employee in the operations of the business.

Any Auto Coverage

Extends Liability coverage to any vehicles acquired or bought during the policy term until the end of the policy term.

Pollution Liability

Covers bodily injury or property damage coverage due to the discharge of pollutants that are being transported or towed.

Trucker’s General Liability

This coverage gives bodily injury or property damage coverage sustained in the course of business while using products or services on premises.

Drive Other Car Coverage

Excess coverage for an executive of a corporation or partnership when driving a non-owned vehicle.

Step Down Liability Coverage

This coverage reduces the liability limits to state minimum requirements for drivers not listed on the policy.

Non-Trucking Liability or Bobtail Liability

This is liability coverage for policyholders who are under lease to a motor carrier which provides the primary liability coverage.

On-Hook

Provides coverage for the vehicle or vehicles being towed or hauled.

Garagekeepers Coverage

Provides Physical Damage coverage for a customer’s vehicle left in the care, custody, and control of the insured while at a covered location or in transit between covered locations.

Cargo Liability

Provides Liability coverage for the covered property in the care and control of the insured and being transported by the insured’s covered vehicle.

Trailer Interchange

Trailer Interchange covers physical damage to any non-owned trailer while in the care, custody, or control of the insured.

These are just some of the various coverage options for commercial auto insurance. Some of these may or not be available for your business type and some may or may not be required. It is important that you speak with your agent on what would be suitable for you. You can also call us at 704-494-9495 with any questions.

UBER INSURANCE

The wait is over. Uber insurance is available in NC! Uber and Lyft drivers in Charlotte and other surrounding cities in NC have waited patiently for a solution to the coverage gap for ridesharing insurance, also referred to as transportation network insurance.

As of 12/19/2016, we can now offer a personal insurance policy with an endorsement that can be added to it that will cover drivers who sometimes use their own personal vehicles to drive for Uber or Lyft. Insurance carriers on all personal lines auto insurance policies exclude coverage while driving for a transportation network. If you were driving for one of these companies up to this point, you were likely driving around without insurance for part of your trip.

Uber has taken the stance where they would cover a claim only while you had a passenger that you were transporting or when the Uber app matched you with your passenger you were to pick up. Your personal lines insurance policy would cover you only while you were using the vehicle for personal use. This left a gap in coverage while you were sitting with the app on waiting for a fare.

BEFORE:

Not Covered

*The app is turned on and you are waiting to be matched with a passenger.

Covered

*Match is made and you are on the way to pick up the passenger.

*Passenger is in your vehicle.

NOW:

No coverage Gaps on endorsed policies. Uber still covers you during the times stated above. Your endorsed policy will cover you while the app is on and you are waiting to be matched with the passenger.

Transportation networks are brand new, and we will without a doubt see changes in the future as the industry grows and changes. This sort of hybrid policy is a step in the right direction. Up to this point, drivers only had 2 choices.

  1. Purchase a true livery or taxi cab policy that was rated much higher than a personal auto policy due to a much higher exposure. You would also need to find a company that would allow you to add an endorsement to your policy that would allow you to use the policy for personal use as well.
  2. Take a chance and drive uninsured.

With a more affordable policy available in NC, there is no excuse for transportation network drivers driving for Uber, Lyft, or various other companies to drive without the proper coverage.

Anyone who has ridden in a vehicle for one of these ridesourcing companies cannot deny the ease of use of the app and, in most cases, the low fare cost. With so many users opting for Uber and Lyft over taxi cabs these days, we know that this form of transportation is here to stay.

If you have any questions or would like a quote on Uber insurance or Lyft insurance, please give us a call at 704-494-9495. There is no reason to have a gap in insurance coverage any longer. YOU MUST PURCHASE A POLICY WITH THIS ENDORSEMENT ADDED TO BE COVERED.

We will continue to update you on this exciting change with future articles regarding this subject.

Workers Compensation Ghost Policies

If you are a contractor that does not have any employees and you have a contract that requires you to have a workers compensation policy, then you have likely heard of a ghost policy. What does this term mean though? A ghost policy is an industry term that typically refers to a workers compensation policy that is issued in the residual market through the North Carolina Rate Bureau. The term ghost policy is used as a reference to a workers compensation policy that has no employees. With an increasing number of contractors requiring their independent subcontractors to have a worker compensation policy, there needed to be a policy that these subs could get even if they didn’t have employees themselves. These policies were created to give these independent subs a way to get the needed certificate of insurance.

Why do contractors need you to have a workers compensation policy if you have no employees?

The reason you are being asked to have this policy is because it transfers the liability to you if you are hurt while you are on a job. If you have your own workers compensation policy in place, then it would be your policy to pay out if you are hurt. The main reason you are being asked to have this policy though is because it keeps the general contractor’s workers comp rate down. If they pay you as a 1099 independent sub contractor then your pay from them will not figured into their audited workers comp premium.

What is vital to know with ghost policies?

  1. Do your audit. When asked for information from your workers compensation company it is very important that you respond in a timely manner. The insurance company can increase your rate, withhold a refund, or mark you as non-compliant which hinders your ability to get a policy in the future.

  2. Make sure to 1099 any subcontractors under you AND make sure you get a certificate of insurance for them in order to keep your overall workers compensation rate down. If you have W-2 employees then their pay will count towards your workers comp premium. If you don’t get a certificate of insurance for your independent 1099 subs then their pay will also count towards your workers compensation premiums.

  3. The workers compensation policy will not cover you and your injuries as the owner if you don’t elect coverage for yourself. In an effort to keep the rate down, most owners exclude coverage for themselves. You must remember this if you are ever hurt though as there will be no coverage at all for your injuries if you reject coverage for yourself.

  4. The NC Rate Bureau will assign your policy to a specific company. If you have had a policy in the past then it will likely be the same carrier since they have your policy history.

  5. Workers comp policies are always estimated premiums. We never know what our true payroll will be unless we have 0 employees. It is for this reason that your policy premium is estimated. The true cost of the premium will be settled after the audit.

Why are workers compensation policies so expensive?

These premiums can be expensive depending on what your class code is. Typically exposures such as office work are very inexpensive because the risk value is so low. This is not true for classifications such as carpentry and roofing risks. The reason for the hefty premiums is due to the risk level and the fact that it will not only payout for their medical bills if they are injured, but also to their loss of time at work. When there is a claim, these total payouts can be very significant.

What kind of items are needed for an audit?

Below are a list of some of the more common items that are requested when you are completing a workers compensation audit. It is important that you keep accurate records leading up to the audit.

  • 941 payroll reports

  • Schedule C of your income tax return for the business

  • Ledgers and journals for the business

  • Business check books

  • List of independent 1099 subcontractors

  • Bank statements

North Carolina Rate Bureau residual policies, known as ghost polices, can be a very important part of your business requirements in getting work from other contractors. It is important that you take them seriously and that you arm yourself with all of the information needed to ensure that you don’t see extremely high rates. You also want to protect yourself as an employer from very expensive lawsuits. You should have a lengthy discussion with your agent to see if this policy type is something that will be beneficial to you.