As a plumbing contractor, your vehicles are crucial assets that allow your business to operate efficiently. Your fleet of vans, trucks, and other vehicles enables your team to reliably transport tools, equipment, and materials to job sites, respond quickly to emergency calls, and advertise your brand while out on service appointments.

Given how heavily plumbing companies rely on their vehicles, having proper commercial auto insurance is an absolute must. Commercial auto coverage provides critical protection that can safeguard your business against major financial losses stemming from any auto-related accidents, damages, or liability claims that may occur.

Without adequate commercial auto insurance, just a single at-fault accident, liability lawsuit, instance of theft/vandalism, or even a large hail storm could leave you with auto repair and medical bills well into the tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars. For small and mid-sized plumbing businesses with limited cash reserves, such major expenses could be impossible to cover out-of-pocket and end up severely hurting the company’s financial health or forcing layoffs.

That’s why securing tailored commercial auto coverage with sufficient policy limits is so crucial for plumbers focused on properly protecting their fleet assets and overall finances.

This comprehensive guide will explain everything plumbing contractors need to know about obtaining the right commercial auto insurance policy. We’ll cover key topics like:

  • What Exactly Does Commercial Auto Insurance Cover?
  • What Does Commercial Auto Cost?
  • Effective Ways to Control Your Costs
  • How To Secure the Best Rates

Read on for an in-depth look at how commercial auto insurance functions and why securing tailored protection with adequate limits is so crucial for plumbing companies seeking to properly safeguard their irreplaceable fleet assets and overall business finances.

What Does Commercial Auto Insurance Cover for Plumbers?

At their core, commercial auto insurance policies are designed to provide plumbing businesses and contractors with financial protection against a wide range of potential losses and damages involving their company vehicles.

For plumbers, some of the most important basic coverages include:

Bodily Injury Liability

  • Covers injuries and harm caused to third parties when your commercial vehicles are deemed legally responsible. This includes coverage for medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other costs stemming from bodily harm.
  • Provides protection if injured parties file lawsuits against your business seeking damages. The liability coverage pays for legal defense fees and any settlement amounts awarded, up to the limits of your policy.

Property Damage Liability

  • Covers the costs to repair or replace any third party property your commercial vehicles damage. For example, if your plumbing van crashed into and totaled another driver’s car while on the job.
  • This coverage pays for expenses related to property your business damages and protects you from related lawsuits. Limits apply based on your specific policy.

Collision

  • Pays to repair or replace your own plumbing fleet vehicles damaged in collisions, regardless of fault.
  • Typically requires you to pay a deductible. Higher deductibles reduce premiums but increase out-of-pocket costs when a claim is filed.

Comprehensive Coverage

  • Covers damage to your plumbing vehicles from non-collision incidents like theft, vandalism, natural disasters, fires, floods, hail storms and more.
  • Also requires a deductible before coverage kicks in. Helps pay for expenses like replacing a van stolen from a job site.

Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist Coverage

  • Provides protection if your vehicles are hit by an at-fault driver who has little or no insurance.
  • Covers medical costs and possibly property damage stemming from an accident with an uninsured or underinsured motorist up to your specified limits.

Medical Payments Coverage

  • Pays medical bills for drivers and passengers injured in your plumbing vehicles, regardless of fault.
  • Provides a limited amount of first-dollar medical coverage for people in your vehicles. Typically up to a few thousand dollars per person.

Those are some of the fundamental types of protection a commercial auto policy offers. Additional supplemental coverages like rental reimbursement, roadside assistance, and specialty equipment coverage may also be available depending on your insurer.

What Does Commercial Auto Cost?

Most states require businesses to carry minimum limits for their commercial auto liability coverage. However, given the unique risks plumbers face, insurance experts strongly recommend securing substantially higher liability limits to ensure you have adequate protection.

Here are suggested minimum commercial auto policy limits for plumbers:

  • $1,000,000 per accident in bodily injury coverage
  • $1,000,000 per accident in property damage coverage
  • $1,000,000 total combined uninsured/underinsured motorist bodily injury

Carrying per accident limits of $1 million in both bodily injury and property damage coverage provides robust protection that exceeds state minimums which typically range from $25,000 to $100,000 in coverage. Per accident limits apply to each specific accident your business’ vehicles may be involved in.

The higher $1 million limits better allow your plumbing business to cover the costs of major auto liability claims without as much financial risk. If an extremely large liability lawsuit exceeds your policy limits, your business’ own assets could be put at risk to cover the difference. That’s why carrying limits above state minimums is so important.

For collision and comprehensive, experts recommend insuring your plumbing vehicles at their actual cash value or replacement cost to ensure you can replace them if damaged or stolen.

With these limits, plumbers and plumbing contractors can expect to pay ~$1,800 – $3,000 per auto per year. The cost can vary significantly based on a number of factors that we’ll explain further in the following section. Here’s our guide on the cost of commercial auto insurance for plumbers.

What Factors Impact Commercial Auto Premiums for Plumbers?

There are a wide variety of factors that influence how much plumbing contractors will pay in commercial auto insurance premiums. Key factors that impact costs include:

  • Fleet size – The greater the number of vehicles you need to insure, the more risk exposure your business has. More vehicles means higher chances for accidents and claims. That additional exposure gets priced into higher premiums as fleet sizes grow.
  • Vehicle types – Since commercial vans and trucks have much greater accident severity compared to passenger sedans, insurers charge higher premiums for them. Bigger, heavier vehicles do more damage in collisions.
  • Primary usage – Vehicles used for sales, service, and deliveries tend to have higher premiums than those simply commuting to an office. More driving hours equal more exposure.
  • Driver safety records – Fleets with drivers who maintain clean driving histories without moving violations or at-fault accidents qualify for the lowest premium pricing. Just one or two careless drivers can raise rates.
  • Geographic service area – Plumbing businesses operating in congested urban areas like New York City or Chicago pay higher rates than those in lower-risk rural areas due to increased accident frequency. Geographic location has a major rate impact.
  • Annual mileage – The more miles your vehicles travel each year, the greater their risk exposure is. High business mileage leads to increased premiums.
  • Claims history – Insurers closely scrutinize your past commercial auto claims experience. Too many past claims, especially for preventable accidents, may lead to significantly higher premiums or even policy cancellation. Maintaining a low claims ratio helps keep pricing down.
  • Coverage limits and deductible amounts – Lower liability limits, lower medical payments coverage, and higher deductibles all bring premium costs down. Make sure to balance cost savings against the increased risk of out-of-pocket expenses.

On top of these factors, insurers also consider years in business, driver safety training, vehicle maintenance programs, theft deterrent systems, credit history, and other variables when pricing commercial auto policies for plumbing businesses.

Discounts to Lower Plumbers’ Premium Costs

The good news is insurers offer a variety of discounts plumbers can take advantage of to reduce their commercial auto premium expenses. Potential discounts to ask about include:

  • Driver safety training – Completing additional driving courses often leads to lower rates.
  • Vehicle safety features – Anti-theft systems, backup cameras, telematics, and other safety tech may qualify for a discount.
  • Low mileage – Driving fewer than a set number of miles per year can warrant a discount.
  • Maintenance programs – Keeping vehicles well-serviced can reduce premiums in some cases.
  • Multi-policy bundling – Insure your general liability, property, workers’ comp, etc. with the same provider for a potential discount.
  • Good driver discounts – Maintaining accident-free driving records for all employees helps minimize premium costs.
  • Favorable loss history – Keeping claims frequency low demonstrates effective risk management to insurers.
  • Long-time customer loyalty – Insurers may discount rates for clients who have stayed with them for years.
  • Paid-in-full discounts – Opting to pay premiums in full upfront rather than installments can lead to savings.

Ask your insurance agent or broker which discounts your plumbing business may qualify for. Taking advantage of them makes commercial auto coverage much more affordable.

How Plumbers Can Control and Reduce Premium Costs

While commercial auto insurance is crucial, it also represents a major business expense for plumbing companies. That’s why it’s so important to find ways to control premium costs without sacrificing necessary coverages. Strategies plumbers can implement to lower insurance rates include:

  • Compare quotes from several insurers – Rates for the exact same commercial auto coverage often vary by thousands of dollars between different insurance carriers. Get several quotes to find the best value.
  • Raise your deductibles – Accepting higher collision and comprehensive deductibles lets you substantially reduce premiums. Just be sure you can afford the larger out-of-pocket costs before filing a claim.
  • Enroll fleet drivers in defensive driving courses – Many insurers provide discounts for the completion of motor vehicle accident prevention courses. This demonstrates safety commitment.
  • Implement a vehicle maintenance program – Keep your plumbing vehicles well-serviced with routine inspections, repairs, and car washes. Fix issues immediately and keep the fleet in top shape. Insurers like well-maintained fleets.
  • Purchase vehicles with advanced safety features – Invest in vans and trucks equipped with helpful technology like backup cameras, lane departure warnings, automatic emergency braking, and more. These features minimize fender benders and major accidents to help lower your risk profile.
  • Institute clear driver policies – Have every employee driver sign safety policy documents mandating things like speed limits, no cell phone use, accident reporting procedures, maintenance schedules, and proper loading/unloading. This shows insurers you take driver safety seriously.
  • Look into telematics – Usage-based insurance programs that use data on driving behaviors to set rates may offer additional savings opportunities. Discuss options with your agent or broker.
  • Ask about multi-policy discounts – Insure your general liability, business property, workers’ compensation, etc. through the same provider for a potential discount. Bundling multiple policies signals you are a loyal customer.

While securing robust coverage is key, implementing measures like these can help plumbers gain more control over expenses. Be proactive in managing risks and finding savings. It pays off in the long run through more stable premiums.

How Can Plumbers Secure the Best Commercial Auto Rates?

To ensure your plumbing business gets the optimal commercial auto rates, it pays to shop around and compare quotes from multiple top insurers. Premiums often vary widely for the exact same coverage.

Commercial auto insurance can be obtained through insurance agents, brokers, and even online. When shopping around, come prepared to provide details like:

  • Your vehicles’ garaging locations and primary routes
  • Types of vehicles (vans, trucks etc.) in your fleet
  • Total number of vehicles that need coverage
  • Average annual mileage for each type of vehicle
  • Current auto policy coverages types and liability limits
  • Any special plumbing equipment that needs coverage
  • Driver roster showing all employees who operate vehicles along with their license details and any past incidents
  • Number of years your plumbing business has been in operation
  • Overview of any past losses, claims or traffic violations

Providing this information allows brokers to accurately quote your commercial auto policy across multiple carriers. Partner with an insurance professional to shop your policy to at least 3-5 different insurers.

While quoting takes some time upfront, it maximizes your potential for long-term savings by letting you uncover the best value commercial auto coverage for your plumbing business. Be open to switching providers if needed to secure a considerably better rate for the same coverage.

We highly recommend plumbing business owners partner with a qualified insurance agent or broker that specializes in commercial policies for contractors and tradespeople. Avoid agents who focus solely on personal auto insurance.

Specialist commercial insurance agents have access to top carriers that underwrite policies designed specifically for plumbing contractors and their unique risks. This allows access to enhancements like:

  • Coverage for plumbing tools and materials transported in vehicles
  • Higher liability limits to protect against severe losses
  • Allowance for customized equipment like pipe racks, reels, and shelving

In addition, seasoned commercial insurance professionals will understand the intricacies of state regulations, dispatcher operations, driver hiring processes, and other factors that influence the auto risks associated with running a plumbing company. This expertise translates into tailored guidance as you evaluate options and make coverage decisions for your fleet.

An experienced agent or broker acts as your long-term partner to ensure your vehicles and drivers have adequate protection as your plumbing business evolves. They also provide ongoing advice on controlling costs and sticking to best practices for maintaining your vehicles to help avoid claims.

Conclusion

Having the proper commercial auto coverage in place is crucial for plumbers focused on protecting their vital fleet assets and overall business finances. While robust policies with adequate limits are essential, controlling premium costs through proactive risk management and shopping for the best rates also warrants emphasis. Apply the tips in this guide to secure optimal commercial auto insurance for your plumbing business.

We hope this comprehensive commercial auto insurance guide provides plumbers and contractors with a helpful perspective as they evaluate options to properly insure their fleets. Protecting your business against financial threats is too important to leave to chance. Consult experienced insurance advisors for guidance each step of the way.