Recently I have seen a jump in the requests for General Liability insurance. The most common types of coverages associated with the requirements of the owner operator are (Auto) Liability, Physical Damage and Cargo, and for that reason, these are the types I write about the most. But, with this recent increase in requests for General Liability, I thought that I would stray away from writing about those other three types of coverage and instead focus on this less-discussed type of coverage that protects your business, which we are seeing more requests for these days from the types of people that you are probably pulling for.
What is General Liability? This coverage is also known as Commercial General Business Liability. Often, there is confusion on the part of the trucker when this coverage is requested. For the most part, it is typically confused with the trucker’s regular liability coverage, which is attached to the truck. But, this coverage is a non-trucking type of insurance coverage and is separate from the truck liability altogether. It does not pertain to any of the liability associated with vehicles, with the exception of non-licensed vehicles (like mobile equipment), which we will briefly look at later. Many times, insurance terms are overlapping and confusing to the purchaser of insurance. With the purchase of any insurance product, take the time to have your agent or broker explain not only the coverages but the exclusions and exceptions associated with the policy, as well.
General Liability protects you and your business assets and pays for your obligations incurred on your property or when there is Bodily Injury or Property Damage caused by you or your employees through your business. Bodily Injury and Property Damage are third party terms and they do not apply to you, your employees or equipment. General Liability can also protect you against any liability as a tenant if you cause damage to a property that you rent, such as fire. This type of coverage can also cover claims of false or misleading advertising, including libel, slander, and copyright infringement, as well as the cost of your legal defense and any settlement or award, should you be successfully sued in a non-trucking accident. With this in mind, you can see that General Liability is, in itself, quite different from the truck liability.
Now, you might ask, why, as an owner operator, do I need or why am I required to have this type of coverage? The best way to approach this is by examples as it relates to the trucker or the trucking industry. This type of coverage, General Liability, extends to your office and yard. Coverage would cover you or your employee’s action out of the cab of the vehicle. Coverage would cover any involvement that you have with the loading or unloading of the vehicle (i.e. operating a lift, hoist or any other device not associated with your vehicle). The operation of non-licensed vehicles such as forklifts, construction equipment, snow removing equipment and water trucks is also covered under this type of policy. If it is a licensed vehicle, then it has to have an auto liability policy to cover its operation. If the mobile equipment is not licensed, General Liability will be where you will look for coverage in the event of an accident.
General Liability can be purchased on its own as a separate policy or, as many insurance companies who write truck business do, it can be included in the truck package. You will have to discuss this with your agent or broker. General Liability premiums for the trucking industry are relatively inexpensive. Usually, with a General Liability trucker’s policy, the rates are developed by the number of trucks that you are insuring. If you are an owner operator and coverage can be included in your truck policy, the premium can be as low as $350. If you have to have a separate policy, the cost can be as low as $600. Rates vary from insurance company to company.
We live in a litigious society, and even if you think you’re unlikely to face a claim against you, getting the coverages that are beneficial to you and your operation is a wise investment that doesn’t cost much. It only makes sense to protect your livelihood. If you are ever exposed to a lawsuit that you do not have coverage for, the consequences can be completely disastrous to your business. This comment not only pertains to our discussion here of General Liability, but to the other three coverages that you need to purchase, too. Price should not be your only criteria – coverage, and the knowledge of that coverage, should be the most important factor you consider when making a decision about the purchase of your insurance coverages.
Protect yourself and your business. Be sure to purchase a good General Liability policy and make sure that you fully understand the coverage. It is always better to be safe than sorry! If you have any questions or comments, I can be reached at California Plus Insurance Service in Modesto, California by calling 1-800-699-7101.