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Commercial Vehicle Insurance – Terminology and FAQ

Optional Covers Provided by Commercial Vehicle Insurance Companies in India

  • Provision to insure electrical/non-electrical items separately
  • Personal accident cover for insured owner driver
  • Personal Accident cover for named/unnamed passengers
  • Personal Accident cover for paid driver/ employee
  • Cover for vehicle parts like lamps, tyres/tubes, mudguards, bonnet/side parts, bumpers, headlights and paintwork of damaged portions only
  • Use of commercial type vehicles for commercial and other purposes
  • Legal liability to Non fare paying passengers
  • Legal liability for paid driver for all operations

What does a Windscreen Add-on Cover?

  • This cover is applicable only when the windshield glass is broken and there are no damages to the vehicle.
  • The vehicle is repaired in a garage / workstation of insurer’s choice within the city of insured’s residence based on the residential address provided for this insurance. If the windshield glass is repaired / replaced at any other garage/workstation, the incident will be treated as a separate claim and the no claim bonus will be affected.
  • The cover will apply for only the first claim for replacement of windshield glass, during the year. Subsequent claims for Windshield glass damage will not qualify for continuation of no claims bonus.

What is not Covered under the Windscreen Add-on Cover?

  • The amount of total deductible mentioned in the policy schedule.
  • The damages caused by an uninsured peril.
  • Manufacturing defects in the Windscreen cover.
  • Depreciation on parts, if the depreciation waiver clause is not selected.
  • The add-on cover to be opted at the inception of the commercial vehicle package policy. The insurer doesn’t allow mid-term inclusion and/or removal of the cover.
  • All deductibles will be as per the base Package Policy.

To Calculate Premium: The vehicle’s age, model and IDV will be factored into the price.

A deductible is the amount that an insured has to pay out-of-pocket before the insurer steps in and the claim is settled.

No Claim Bonus: For every no claim year, the insured is rewarded with a discount on the renewal premium. The no claim bonus is cumulative and increases every year. This bonus can be in the range of 20-50% on premium payable. However, it is important to remember that a ‘no claim bonus’ is not the insured’s right but something the insured earns by maintaining a no-claim record during the policy tenure.

Personal Accident Riders: Personal Accident Riders are optional add-on benefits. They can be added to a plan by paying an extra premium. These add -on benefits include payment to insured in the period he is not able to earn due to complete or any partial disabilities.

Insured Declare Value (IDV): It is the current market value of the vehicle and the maximum sum assured fixed by the insured. The insured can avail this amount in case of total loss of vehicle due to theft etc.

Fare-Paying Customers and Non-Fare Paying Customers

Fare-paying passengers as the name suggests are people who are carried in a public service vehicle for payment of a fare. These passengers travel in commercial vehicles like taxis, auto rickshaws, and buses.

Non-fare paying customers mean people who are allowed to travel in a commercial vehicle for free. Example, the owner of the goods being transported may travel in the commercial vehicle. In this case, if he doesn’t pay fare, he can be termed as ‘Non-fare paying customer. Moreover, sometimes, on humanitarian grounds during natural calamities, war etc., passengers may be allowed to travel without paying fare.

The vehicle owner’s responsibility commences from the time a passenger enters the vehicle and continues until the passenger gets down from it. Any accident in the interim period is the responsibility of the owner.

In insurance, third parties comprise pedestrians, fare-paying and non-fare paying passengers in a vehicle. People in the vehicles like the driver, or owner also comprise third parties

Some of the areas for which commercial truck insurance cover policies are used are:

  • Delivery of produce, grocery, frozen food
  • Transportation of building material
  • Moving company
  • Automotive Hauling
  • Container Hauling
  • Livestock movement
  • Restaurant supplies
  • General Freight
  • Delivery of furniture, materials etc.
  • Transportation of dirt, sand, and gravel

Trucks are goods carrying vehicles as opposed to passenger carrying commercial vehicles

Some factors that determine bus insurance premium rates:

  • The number of miles the bus travels in a year
  • Whether the bus travels within city, highways or across state boundaries or international border.
  • The driving record and experience of the drivers
  • The number of seats in the vehicle
  • Safety measures available in the bus or safety training undergone by the driver
  • Passenger profile such as disabled passengers or children
  • The amount of company asset or asset related to the vehicle, the insured needs to protect in the event there is a lawsuit against him.

What Does an Engine Protect Add-On Include?

  • Damage to engine due to leakage of lubricating oil
  • Damage to engine due to any malfunctioning in gear box
  • Damage to engine due to water ingression

However, in some cases the engine may be damaged due to some deliberate acts. For example, cranking the engine while the vehicle is submerged in water can damage it. In such a case, the insured will not be compensated for the damage or loss to the engine. Moreover, there are other situations too when the engine add-on will not cover the losses.

They are:

  • If the engine was damaged in an event subsequent to an accident, the insurer will not pay for the engine repair costs
  • Most insurance companies offer this add-on for cars less than 5 years old
  • The insured cannot make more than two claims in a policy year. Beyond, two claims, the insured will not be compensated for the loss/damage to the engine

NCB protector

The NCB protector is an add-on cover that protects an insured’s accrued no claim bonus. Imagine a situation when an insured has maintained claim-free years during the policy tenure. He will have accrued no claim benefits. Yet, his commercial vehicle gets involved in some accident even though he is not fault. Should he lose all the benefits that were accrued to him?

A NCB protector makes sure that if you are not at fault and it was another party who caused the accident, maybe someone else was driving your car, your discount should remain in place. For this, you have to pay an additional amount over and above your insurance cover to protect your no claim bonus.

How Does the NCB Protector Work?

  • The NCB Protector add-on cover cover’s the insured’s accrued no claim bonus
  • The NCB Protector add-on will ensure that insured’s no claim bonus stays intact for the first two claims made during the year. This will be in addition to the claim amount reimbursed
  • In case, the insured is at fault he has to forgo his no claim bonus

The NCB protector is recommended for those who live in accident prone areas. It should also be bought by people who tend to lend their cars to others to drive.

Roadside Assistance Cover

This is an add-on cover for situations where the insured is stranded in the middle of a highway with no help in hand. If a customer buys road assistance cover, all he needs to do is make a phone call. The cover will ensure that he gets emergency services like medical help, towing, battery jumpstart, arrangement for fuel, minor repairing, alternative transport/ accommodation etc.

Invoice Protection

The invoice protection cover will ensure that insured’s claim is settled in a way that he recovers the entire amount of loss (the on-road price of the car at the time of purchase) that he incurred from losing his vehicle.

The invoice protection add-on bridges the gap between the invoice value of the vehicle and its Insured Declared Value. The IDV represents the cost of the car after depreciation has been deducted from the original sale price of the vehicle.

However, it is important to note that invoice protection cover is not available for cars older than three years. There may also be variation in the clause from company to company.

Zero Depreciation

Zero depreciation add-on helps the insured recover the costs for the repair/replacement of the depreciated parts of the vehicle. This is a very popular add-on cover especially for vehicles that ply within city and face a lot of bumper to bumper traffic. The cover will ensure that the insured recovers full costs of the parts without factoring in depreciation.

With Zero depreciation, the insured recovers the costs for the repair/replacement of the depreciated parts of the vehicle.

This add-on is best to buy if the vehicle is very expensive and replacement of its parts comes at a very high price. This cover is also only available to vehicles that are not more than five years old.

Consumables Cover

There are certain parts of a vehicle which are known as consumables. These parts are:

  • Bolts
  • Screws
  • Washers
  • Brake fluid

Regular bus insurance or taxi insurance or any other commercial vehicle insurance cover might not cover consumable parts.

This type of cover is only used by high-end luxury vehicles. Moreover, the cover is not available for older vehicles.

Accessories Cover

This is a common add-on for vehicles. The costly vehicle accessories must be covered against theft and damage due to untoward events.

Accessories are classified as electrical and non-electrical. Here are list of few vehicle accessories:

  • Curtains
  • GPS Station Announcer
  • Door grab handle for cargo trailer
  • Laminated windscreen
  • Bus Flooring
  • Water proof front view camera for bus

Road side assistance (RSA) cover includes:

  • The insured gets ‘on site’ minor repairs
  • The insured gets critical services like fuel delivery, emptying of fuel tank and jumpstarting the battery
  • Assistance to transport the insured vehicle and relay urgent messages
  • Flat tire support and assistance if key is jammed
  • Dedicated team of customer care executives to answer all car insurance related queries

Depreciation cover : If an insured buys this cover, depreciation will be waived off on plastic or metal parts in case of partial loss or claim.

Third Party Cover:

  • The policy provides protection against Third Party Liability in case of injury or death of a third party
  • The policy covers the expenses towards any medical and legal accountability the insured might have
  • The policy covers cost of damage towards third party property
  • The policy allows the insured a cover up to INR 7.5 lacs
  • The policy is applicable while mounting and dismounting the car

Usually, most motor insurance companies require the following documents to be submitted during settlement of claims:

  • Registration copy of the vehicle
  • Original estimate of loss
  • Original repair invoice
  • Payment receipt
  • Non-traceable certificate in case of theft claim
  • Keys to be submitted in case of theft claim
  • Repair invoice in case cashless facility is availed

What is depreciation in commercial vehicle insurance?

Vehicles depreciate with age. Usually, the depreciation of vehicle comes into play when there is claim for total loss. Total loss occurs when the vehicle is stolen. In a situation, where parts of a vehicle are damaged, the depreciated of parts of the vehicle will be considered at the time of settlement of claim, based on the rate of depreciation. This means, the payment is made for the reduced amount and not for the cost of replacement of the part. The rest of the cost of the parts will be borne by the policyholder out-of-pocket.

The rates of depreciation are as listed below:

  • For a typical paint job, a depreciation rate of 50% is applied to the material cost of the paint. However, if a consolidated amount is charged for the paint job, then the cost of paint material is considered to be 25% of the total cost and the 50% rate of depreciation is applied on it
  • For all rubber/ nylon / plastic parts, tyres and tubes, batteries and air bags the depreciation rate will be at 50%
  • For fibre glass components, the depreciation rate will be at 30%
  • For all parts made of glass – Nil

In the case of a paint job, which costs Rs. 15,000 and the cost of the paint in the job is Rs. 3,000, the insurance company will only pay 50% of the cost of the paint. So, Rs. 1,500 will be borne by the insured out of pocket.

What are the two types of deductibles in commercial vehicle insurance?

Compulsory deductibles: This is a fixed amount and depends on two factors: type of vehicle and the engine capacity of the vehicle. For older vehicles, the compulsory deductibles are set at a higher value by Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDA).

Voluntary deductibles: This is an optional amount that may be chosen by the insured at the time of buying the insurance policy. If an insured opts to pay higher deductibles, the vehicle premium will come down. It is generally recommended that if the policyholder doesn’t make frequent claims, he should pay a higher deductible and keep the premium at a lower level.

RTI (Return to invoice)

RTI add-on is an option provided by insurers to bridge the gap between the invoice value of the vehicle and its insured declared value. With this cover, the insured can get a reimbursement of the on-road price of the car that was paid for the car. A cover with the RTI add-on costs around 10% more than a comprehensive car insurance policy but is very useful to recover the entire loss of the car.

RTI can be applied under certain situations only:

  • An insured cannot make claims for small damages like cracks or dents. The RTI cover is useful to cover complete damage to the vehicle or when the vehicle is stolen.
  • RTI cover is for complete reimbursement of the cost of the vehicle at which it was initially bought. That is, it helps recover the on-road price of the vehicle.
  • The RTI cover is suitable for new vehicle owners because if a new vehicle is lost or completely damaged in an accident, a depreciation cost at the rate of 5 % in the first 6 months and 10 % in the following year is still levied on the vehicle. The depreciation rate keeps on increasing for each subsequent year. Therefore, it is prudent for the owner to include this add-on cover to a comprehensive car insurance policy.
  • When the insurer settles a claim with RTI add-on cover, they may either pay the insured the entire on-road price of the car or exclude the cost of specifics, like road tax, registration charges etc. Insurance companies at times compensate on percentage basis in addition to ex-showroom price of the vehicle.
  • RTI cover can be availed by vehicles not older than three years. For older vehicles than 3 years, the depreciation cost will be much higher and it will not make financial sense to the insurance company to give this facility to customers. The company would suffer losses if it were to give such a cover to customers.

A normal vehicle insurance cover will not fetch the insured an amount that is equal to the on-road price. Therefore the RTI add-on is beneficial to safeguard a new vehicle especially in areas where vehicle theft is common.

 What is meant by break-in insurance?

Break-in-insurance occurs when the insurance policy lapses due to non-renewal on time. Indian motor law makes it compulsory for every vehicle owner to have third-party liability cover. In case of break in, the insured must get in touch with the insurance company to renew the policy if it has been less than 90 days so as to retain the No Claim Bonus. In case, the insured has to buy a new policy altogether, he will have to get his vehicle inspected.

How do we define electrical and non-electrical accessories?

Electrical accessories are electrical or electronic equipment that are usually not fitted with the vehicle. Some examples of electrical accessories include:

  • Music system
  • LCD mini TV
  • Fog lights

Non-electrical accessories cover any non-electrical/ non-electronic equipment that is not factory fitted with the vehicle. Some non-electrical/ non-electronic equipment include:

  • Mag wheels,
  • Leather seats
  • CNG-kit
  • interior fittings

What is a short period rate?

It is a type of method to calculate the penalty amount for cancelling a policy before its due date. A short period rate cancellation method allows the insurer to retain unearned premium (UEP) that is more than what is done in pro rata cancellation method. Therefore, it acts as a disincentive for the insured to cancel a policy before it expires.

What are the details that are required to be submitted while registering a claim?

The following details are required to be submitted while registering a claim:

  • Policy number
  • Vehicle Registration Number
  • Caller details / relation with insured
  • Date / Time & Place of the incident/ accident.
  • Detail description of the incident/ accident
  • Type of loss whether Own damage/Theft/third-party
  • Type of physical injury or damage
  • Whether the incident has been reported to police. If yes, the FIR no
  • Name of the driver(This should be as per the name mentioned in driving license)
  • Current location of the vehicle
  • Garage preference where the insured would like to get it repaired

Once the above information is provided, the call centre of the insurance company will provide the insured with a unique number known as claim no. The claim no will be used for all future correspondence.

How long does it take for a claim to get settled?

Once the insurer receives all relevant documents like original repair invoice, satisfaction voucher, discharge voucher, and necessary fund transfer details, the claim will get processed within 7 working days.

What is salvage and total loss?

Salvage is the value of wreck following an accident which renders the vehicle totally damaged so much that it no longer makes economical sense to repair the vehicle. For older model vehicles, sometimes a minor damage can render it useless because the total repair expenses will be more than what the vehicle is worth.

Q: I owe a vehicle which met with an accident two days back. But my original driver was not driving the vehicle. Can I still make a claim?

Yes, you can make a claim provided the following conditions are fulfilled:

  • Insurance policy for the vehicle should exist
  • If you have paid the premium for a paid driver and the car was driven by him with your permission
  • The person driving the vehicle is duly licensed because the premium is based on seating capacity and includes the person on driver’s seat

What is loading? What is the charge for loading?

Loading is an additional premium to be paid at the time of renewal of policy when the company feels that the insured is prone to risks. The additional premium helps the insurer cover losses which may be higher than what is anticipated.

In general, a vehicle which is more than 4 year old will be subject to 5% loading, and vehicle with age 7 and above will be loaded with additional 10%. Vehicles that are aged more than 10 years are subject to maximum 15% by some well-known insurers.

The loading charge is due to the anticipation that older vehicles are more prone to risks of accidents, damages, and other wear and tear.

What should an insured do if his vehicle is stolen and he loses his original policy too?

The insured must report the matter to the insurance company, the police, and the RTO where the vehicle was registered. The RTO must formally acknowledge the letter sent by you informing them about the theft.

The insured must also call the insurance company to get a duplicate copy of the policy and to start the process of filing the claim. The insured will need to fill in a claim form and submit the police FIR to the insurer. An investigator will be appointed to trace the lost vehicle. Depending on the outcome of the investigations, the insurer will offer the insured a claim settlement. A few additional documents may be required during the claim settlement process.

 What is meant by total loss?

By total loss, we mean damages incurred on the insured’s vehicle where the cost of repair amounts to more than 75% of the IDV on his policy.

What is “Drive Other Car” coverage?

“Drive other car” insurance policy provides coverage for personal use of a non-owned commercial automobile by the insured.

“Drive other car” provides the following benefits:

  • Liability cover
  • Medical payments
  • Uninsured/Underinsured motorist coverage
  • Physical damage coverage

If an individual, for example, a company officer, does not have his own personal auto policy, and uses a corporate car for person use, this coverage is apt to protect them from exposures that may occur from using someone else’s car. Similarly, if an executive of a partnership or corporation or their spouse drives a non-owned vehicle that is rented or borrowed, the ‘the drive other car’ is useful.

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