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Small Public Autos Equal Big Opportunities

Small Public Autos Equal Big Opportunities

Typically, when I think of Commercial Auto, I think of big trucks and tractors.  But that is only some of what our Commercial Auto Dept. can do.  Most of our public auto risks are written with National Indemnity (NICO), who has a broad appetite for the diversity of risks it insures.  Non-Emergency Medical Transportation and Taxi are 2 of the top 5 classes they write.

When preparing a submission for Public Auto, in addition to our public auto application that will be requested, consider these additional questions to help us better classify the risk:


Is the applicant transporting individual passengers or groups?  Are the passengers’ transported locals or tourists?  Do the passengers require medical supervision during the trip? Are rides booked directly with the applicant?  Or are rides generated through a third party such as uber?


What kinds of autos are being driven?  Any modifications to these autos?  Wheelchair lifts or tie-downs? What is the max seating capacity of each vehicle?  Provide the number as if no seats have been removed.


Does the applicant have a focus on delivery locations, such as airports, casinos, medical appointments, breweries or vineyards? Is the insured cruising for passengers?


Do passengers require a specific type of vehicle to meet special needs? Large seating capacity?  Luxury specific? 


How does a potential client locate and book a ride?  Website address? Rides booked through a travel agent?


Like trucking risks, these for-hire public livery risks, can require federal and state filings, depending on their operation.  The filings will generate the need to confirm that all owned/leased/operated commercial power units are scheduled on the application.  This is where a risk’s website should be reviewed for the number and type of units listed.  If you can determine missing units, please request copies of the bills of sale, or lease return documentation.

Ask about immediate growth plans.  Do they plan to grow aggressively throughout the year?  Will they buy new units or add drivers with their own vehicles?

Does the applicant offer referrals?  If so, do they receive any form of compensation?  Could the passenger believe the applicant is providing the transportation?  If so, please complete a Hired Non-Owned Supplemental application.

Does the applicant own or operate any other transportation businesses?  Filings can cause the need for a higher limit of liability, depending on the seating capacities of the vehicles.  Some owners will try to separate out these types of exposures to keep from putting the highest liability limit on all units.  We will need to know about all related companies.

Contracts and certificate requirements:

A lot of these public auto risks have contracts with the companies hiring their services.  These contracts typically require specific wording, covered auto symbols, and coverages.  It is highly recommended that you obtain a copy of the perspective contract. Some requests we are not able to meet:

  • Symbol 1 (any auto) – most contracts will accept symbol 2, 8, and 9 (owned autos, Hired, Non-owned): submission to insurance company is required
  • Primary and Noncontributory Wording – not available

Public Auto popularity is on the rise, don’t miss out on an opportunity because you aren’t familiar with the type of operation.  Give us a call and let us help you place your next Commercial Auto Account.

Posted by Matt White, Commercial Auto on Nov 17, 2021