Commercial auto insurance coverage symbols can be confusing, especially when the explanation of those symbols is buried deep in the policy verbiage. Many business owners assume that a commercial auto policy offers coverage that is broader than a personal auto policy. Unfortunately, this is generally not the case. By using coverage symbols (which are not found in a personal auto policy) commercial auto insurance policies define specifically which vehicles are covered for liability and physical damage.
For this discussion, we will be using the ISO Business Auto Coverage Form CA 0001 10/13 edition. The coverage symbols that can be applied to liability and/or physical damage are:
Symbol 1: Any “auto”
Symbol 2: Owned “autos” only
Symbol 3: Owned private passenger “autos” only
Symbol 4: Owned “autos” other than private passenger “autos”
Symbol 5: Owned “autos” subject to no-fault
Symbol 6: Owned “autos” subject to a compulsory uninsured motorist law
Symbol 7: Specifically described “autos”
Symbol 8: Hired “autos” only
Symbol 9: Non-owned “autos” only
Symbol 19: Mobile equipment subject to compulsory motor vehicle insurance laws only
The most commonly used symbols are 1, 2, 7, 8 and 9. Symbol 19 is sometimes included on business auto policies that use symbol 7 but is not offered by all insurance carriers.
Commercial Auto Insurance Coverage Symbols Defined
Symbol 1 provides the broadest coverage available. It means that any auto, whether owned by the insured or not, is covered for the bodily injury and property damage liability. It is important to note than Symbol 1 coverage can only be applied to liability coverage. Symbol 1 extends coverage automatically to newly acquired autos, non-owned autos, hired autos and makes no exception for the type of vehicle. Whenever possible, this is the preferred coverage symbol that should be applied to a commercial auto insurance policy.
Symbol 2 limits coverage to autos owned by the insured but, like symbol 1, does not make exceptions for any type of vehicle (i.e. both private passenger vehicles, trailers, and trucks can be covered). This symbol conditions coverage based on ownership: vehicles must be titled to the named insured. This coverage is commonly applied to liability, medical payments, and uninsured motorist coverage but can also be used for physical damage coverage.
Symbols 3 and 4 are intended to carve out coverage for specific types of vehicles, such as private passenger autos only, or other than private passenger autos. They are used in rarely when certain underwriting circumstances dictate their necessity.
Symbol 5 is used only in a few states that mandate PIP or no-fault benefits. It is not used in Nevada.
Symbol 6 applied only to uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage, where that coverage is compulsory. This symbol is not commonly used in Nevada.
Symbol 7 limits coverage to autos specifically described in the policy declarations. While commonly used, symbol 7 does limit coverage for newly acquired vehicles compared to symbol 1 or symbol 2. There are circumstances when only symbol 7 is available, but symbol 1 or 2 are preferred.
Symbol 8 provides coverage for hired or rented autos. This can be applied to liability or physical damage, or both. This coverage is already included in the definition of symbol 1.
Symbol 9 provides coverage for non-owned autos that the insured does NOT rent or hire. This is typically used to cover the exposure of employees using their personal vehicles for company business. Symbol 9 usually applies only to liability coverage. This coverage is already included in the definition of symbol 1.
Symbol 19 applies to autos that are land vehicles and would qualify as mobile equipment under the business auto policy, except they are subject to compulsory registration and insurance laws (i.e. financial responsibility laws). This coverage is already included in the definition of symbol 1 & 2, so symbol 19 is usually only needed in conjunction with symbol 7 coverage.
The Right Commercial Auto Insurance
How does a business owner know what commercial auto coverage symbols are appropriate? The best solution is to work with an agent that understands commercial auto insurance and coverage symbols. At Safeguard Insurance we’ve been providing business owners with the right coverage at the right price for over 17 years. We have many commercial auto insurance providers to choose from including Progressive, Liberty Mutual, Hartford, Acuity, Travelers, Mercury, and BHHC. Contact us today for a no-obligation policy review and quote.
Safeguard Insurance is licensed to provide commercial auto insurance in Nevada, Utah, Arizona, California, New Mexico, Idaho, Oregon, Washington, and Texas.