Consumer problems with light trucks do not often concern the choice of vehicle. Most commonly, consumer issues surround mechanical repairs and additional responsibility for damages to another party.
The typical car insurance policy does not cover any damage to a vehicle when it is being used in business or if it tows anything or carries heavy loads, but truck operators frequently use their vehicles for these purposes.
There are several steps a consumer can take to ensure that an insurance policy will cover the appropriate vehicles and activities:
1. Current policy coverage
Know what is covered by your current policy, before looking at alternatives. This knowledge will make it easier to evaluate the benefits of any specialized coverage you may be considering
2. Weight classes
Check the weight classifications for your vehicles. These can help you determine how much insurance coverage they will need if you are considering purchasing a larger vehicle. Additional options may be available for vehicles that tow or carry heavy loads, so investigate these possibilities carefully before making decisions on commercial equipment or additional capacity.
3. Heavy towing and commercial equipment
If you carry heavy loads or tow large trailers and plan to do this on a regular basis, consider the steps necessary to insure your policy will include coverage for these activities. Look at how much it will cost to increase your liability amounts and under what conditions this additional coverage will be applied. Also investigate whether the premiums will increase as your vehicles age.
4. Heavy loads
If you travel with heavy equipment or vehicles, such as landscaping tractors, boats, travel trailers and motorcycles, be aware that they may not be covered in the same way a standard vehicle would be under a basic policy. These items could potentially require an endorsement to your policy or a separate policy altogether.
5. Business use
If you are using your vehicles in a business, make sure this is made clear to the insurance company before you purchase liability coverage. If it is not, your policy may understate or exclude any claims that result from business-related activity. You will need to increase the amount of liability exposure on your policy to fit your business operations.
6. Specialized equipment
Investigate additional coverage options, such as extended warranties on mechanical components of the vehicle and gap insurance for leased trucks, before committing to a purchase. These can be added later if necessary but you will generally pay higher premiums when you first buy the vehicle. Some companies may also have additional exclusions for specialized equipment from third-party injury claims, so make certain these exclusions do not apply to your vehicles before signing a policy.
7. Age of vehicle
If you own an older vehicle that has been in use for a while, you should consider how its age will affect your insurance rates and what additional coverage may be available if it is slightly altered. Cars that are designed for use by more than one driver, such as minivans, should be insured in the same way you would drive them if they were your primary vehicle.
8. Vehicle location
If your vehicles are kept at home, this will reduce the chance of theft and reduce your premiums accordingly. If you park a vehicle on a street, you may need to pay for additional coverage.
9. Driving history
If you have a good driving record, this will benefit you because it may allow you to choose from lower-cost insurance companies and products. If your driving record is not as good as the insurer expects or if there are claims in recent years, you will risk higher insurance premiums or even denial of coverage.
10. Driving habits
Before making a decision, ask the insurer about any restrictions it may place on your driving habitsif you exceed certain mileage limits in personal vehicles, for exampleor if it classifies your policy as high-risk because you do not personally own the vehicle. Generally, you will need to disclose any other vehicles that are not insured by your company. If an insurance claim is filed on a vehicle that is owned by the company but does not appear on the policy, it may be denied or voided.
11. Customizing or modifying vehicles
Even minor modifications to vehicles can affect premiums so take this into account when you plan on purchasing a vehicle that has been modified or customized by the manufacturer. Such factors as horsepower, engine size and safety features can change the amount of liability coverage you will need to purchase. For example, if a car has been modified with after-market rims and tires, this could require additional underinsured motorist protection.
Can I have two cars on one policy?
No. Each vehicle must be listed on the policy and the deductible for each car needs to be paid before your claims can be processed.
How will a housemate’s vehicle affect my policy?
If the vehicle is not registered to you, your insurance company may consider it a risk and either charge higher premiums or refuse to cover it altogether. In worst-case scenarios, they may cancel your entire policy if they do not recognize the vehicle as being part of your household.
What do I need to be aware of when I purchase a new vehicle?
The type of vehicle you choose can affect premiums significantly, so make sure you know what limits and deductible amount will apply to each car. You should also check the horsepower and engine size for any modifications made aftermarket; these can increase your liability limits and premiums.
I want to install a winch and brush guard on my truck. How will this affect my premium?
If the accessories are factory made, they should be covered by your policy as long as you can prove ownership. However, if you’ve installed these aftermarket items yourself, they could potentially require additional coverage from your insurer or even void your existing coverage.
When you are choosing your truck insurance coverage, find out what types of modifications or customizations could result in higher premiums. It is also important to consider any legal liabilities that may be involved before making major changes to a vehicle. If you are unsure about the implications of these changes, consult your local agent before signing any agreements on the purchase of a new vehicle.