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Accidents in a business vehicle

Accidents in a business vehicle

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How to reduce commercial car insurance claims and driver risks

Fleet vehicle accidents are among the most expensive injury claims for business, with the cost of a loss averaging $70,000 — or almost twice the cost of the average workplace injury. Prepare your employees for knocks on the road, including what to do after.

What happens after an accident?

A minor fender bender can rattle the best of us. But for the safety of your drivers — and ultimately your business — provide the specific steps you expect your drivers to take before they ever take a company vehicle on the road.

Formalize in your company documents who your driver should contact first after an accident: your commercial insurer or a company representative who can guide them through the process on the scene.

Encourage safety first among your employees while stressing the need to remain professional on the scene through general steps that can protect your company’s claim:

  1. Secure the scene. Make sure that everybody involved in the accident is safe. For serious injuries, call 911. If you can, move your vehicle to the side of the road to prevent a secondary accident.
  2. Call the police. No matter how small the accident, call for help from the scene.
  3. Collect information. Speak with any witnesses, and exchange your contact and insurance info with other drivers. Don’t forget to request a copy of the police report.
  4. Don’t admit fault. Even a simple “I’m sorry” could be considered an admission of guilt. Leave it to the insurer and your company to determine responsibility.
  5. Notify your company. Speak with an appropriate business representative. Ask about company-approved tow companies or mechanics if you need to take fast action from the road.
  6. Take photos. Take photos of your vehicle and any other cars from all angles. Include photos that reveal the overall context of the crash, like road conditions or traffic signals.
  7. Help with claim documentation. Expect to complete documentation for both your company and its insurer. Request your official accident report from the police.
  8. Follow up with your claim. Reimbursement ultimately depends on whether you were driving a company vehicle, driving for business and more. Work with your company representative for guidance throughout the claims process.

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Common reasons your claim could be denied

Commercial insurance often comes with exclusions that could result in a denial of coverage for your injuries or damages. For example, coverage for rideshare vehicles is different from protection for fleets and other hired vehicles.

While exclusions often overlap with those for personal policies, look for:

  • Expected or intentional damage. Insurers won’t pay if the accident is a result of intent to do harm.
  • Coverage for non-employees using business vehicles. Check whether your policy covers specific drivers or anyone who drives the vehicle to avoid gaps in coverage.
  • Equipment and cargo. Most basic commercial insurance policies don’t cover loss of equipment or cargo (such as jewelry, alcohol, or tobacco).
  • Costs above your coverage maximum. Insurers will only pay up to your liability limit. Talk to your insurer to find out your limit and how to increase it if needed.
  • Commercial use on a personal auto policy. Any vehicle that’s used to transport goods or paying passengers is required to have commercial coverage.
  • Incorrect driver license status. If your drivers don’t have a valid commercial driver’s license, your policy will not be valid.

How to prevent accidents in company vehicles

Take steps that can help you and your drivers prevent or minimize the likelihood of an accident in a company vehicle:

  • Provide safety training. Educate drivers on defensive driving tactics, including safe driving during difficult weather conditions, lane changes and passing. Encourage drivers to perform regular maintenance checks.
  • Install speed limiters on vehicles. These electronic devices can ensure that drivers always travel at safe speeds.
  • Develop a culture of safe driving. Provide incentives for remaining accident free and establish disciplinary programs for poor driving.
  • Add safety features. Antilock brakes, electronic stability control and collision warning systems are designed to help prevent accidents.
  • Consider an on-site mechanic. If your fleet is large, provide an easy way to routinely maintain your vehicles, ensure each is performing well and repair minor damages.

What are the most common causes of fleet vehicle accidents?

Commercial drivers put in so many extra miles on the road, which increases the chances of an accident due to three common causes:

  1. Driver errors. Drivers that are speeding, fatigued, distracted, or otherwise impaired are at a higher risk of an accident.
  2. Road hazards. Construction zones, potholes and other roadway problems can make driving difficult and increase risk.
  3. Vehicle failures. Vehicles that aren’t properly maintained are subject to engine, brake and other failure that can cause an accident.

Best safety features for commercial vehicles

Today’s commercial vehicles offer both standard and add-on safety features that can reduce the likelihood of damage in an accident and potentially allow you to save on your commercial policy.

Ask your insurer about discounts for safety products and systems like:

  • Airbags. Although a standard feature for passenger vehicles, most trucks aren’t equipped with airbags. If yours is, you may be eligible for a discount.
  • Anti-lock brakes. ABS can stop your vehicle more quickly on ice or snow and improve steering control.
  • Electronic stability control. ESC helps to minimize the loss of control when a vehicle is skidding.
  • Collision warning systems. This safety system uses radar and recognition technology to detect fixed dangers that can cause a crash and warn drivers.
  • 360-degree cameras. Eliminate blind spots and dramatically reduce collisions with this system that provides a view of the entire vehicle and its surroundings to the driver.
  • Drowsy driver alerts. Various technologies are used to detect driver drowsiness, such as steering-pattern monitoring or face and eye monitoring.
  • Lane-change warnings. Sensors keep track of where you are within the lane lines, alerting the driver if they get too close to the edge of their lane to avoid drifting off the road or into oncoming traffic.

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Bottom line

Help your company drivers anticipate what you expect before they hit the road for business. Look into safety devices designed to protect your fleet and talk about the steps you expect them to follow after an accident.

To get the strongest or cheapest commercial policy you’re eligible for, compare commercial car insurers against your businesses needs.

Frequently asked questions

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Roslyn McKenna

Roslyn McKenna is a publisher for car insurance at finder.com. Roslyn puts her passion for writing to good use by empowering our readers to get what they want from their money. Her goal is to help people get a great deal on car insurance so they can enjoy the ride.

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