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What Is a Commercial Vehicle? What You Need to Know

Aug 8, 2023 10:13:11 AM

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In today's world, commercial motor vehicles play an important role in various industries, ensuring the smooth transportation of goods and services. If you're looking to start a business that relies on transportation, you might need to purchase or lease a commercial vehicle. But before looking into commercial vehicle sales, it's important to know what is a commercial vehicle and the risks and responsibilities of operating one. In this post, we will dive into what commercial vehicles are and explain the importance of commercial vehicle insurance so that business owners understand the importance of proper coverage.

Commercial Vehicle Definition

What is a commercial vehicle? Commercial vehicles refer to any vehicles primarily used for business purposes. They are not limited to a specific type or size and cover a broad range of vehicles, including vans, light- and heavy-duty trucks, delivery vehicles, buses, construction equipment and more. These vehicles are different from personal or private vehicles which are used for personal transportation.

Types of Commercial Vehicles

Commercial vehicles come in a wide range for various business purposes, whether they are types of construction trucks or cargo vans for small business. Here is a quick overview of some of the different types of commercial vehicles:

  • Delivery Vans: Small to medium-sized vans used for local or regional deliveries, often used by courier services, small businesses, or e-commerce companies.
  • Box Trucks: Medium to large-sized trucks with an enclosed cargo area. They are commonly used for transporting furniture, appliances, and other large items.
  • Semi-Trucks: Also known as tractor-trailers or 18-wheelers, these large trucks are designed for long-haul transportation and can carry substantial loads.
  • Flatbed Trucks: Flatbed trucks have an open, flat cargo area that allows for easy loading and unloading of oversized or irregularly shaped items. They are commonly used in construction, hauling equipment, or transporting goods that cannot fit inside an enclosed truck.
  • Tow Trucks: Specifically designed for towing or recovering disabled vehicles, tow trucks come in different types, including flatbed tow trucks, hook and chain tow trucks, and wheel-lift tow trucks.
  • Buses: Commercial buses are used for public transportation, charter services, school transportation, and other passenger-carrying purposes. They vary in size, from small mini busses to full-size coach buses.
  • Refrigerated Trucks: These trucks are equipped with cooling or refrigeration units to transport perishable goods, such as fresh produce, frozen foods, or pharmaceuticals while maintaining a specific temperature.
  • Construction Vehicles: These include specialized vehicles used in the construction industry, such as dump trucks, concrete mixers, cranes, excavators, and bulldozers.
  • Utility Vehicles: Vehicles used by utility companies for tasks like repair and maintenance work, such as bucket trucks used by electricians or telecommunications vans used by technicians.
  • Passenger Vans: Passenger vans are designed to transport groups of people. Some passenger vans are used by hotels, airports, or shuttle services.

Commercial Vehicle Insurance

Operating a commercial vehicle involves inherent risks due to the increased exposure on the road and the value of the cargo being transported. Commercial vehicle insurance provides essential protection against these risks and safeguards businesses from potential financial losses arising from accidents, theft, property damage, or liability claims.

Here are some key reasons why commercial motor vehicle insurance is needed:

  • Liability coverage: Liability insurance typically includes liability coverage, which protects the insured party against claims for property damage or bodily injury caused by the commercial vehicle.
  • Property coverage: Property coverage insurance covers damage or loss to the commercial vehicle itself, ensuring the business can recover from accidents, theft, vandalism, or natural disasters.
  • Cargo coverage: Many insurance policies also offer coverage for the goods or cargo being transported, safeguarding against damage, theft, or loss during transit.
  • Legal compliance: In most jurisdictions, vehicle insurance is a legal requirement to operate a commercial vehicle. Compliance with insurance regulations helps businesses avoid penalties or legal consequences.

How to Obtain Commercial Vehicle Insurance

Getting commercial motor vehicle insurance involves a few steps to ensure coverage tailored to your business needs. Here are some general steps to follow:

  1. Assess your insurance needs: Evaluate the unique requirements of your business and the risks associated with your commercial vehicles. Consider factors like vehicle type, usage, cargo value, and the extent of coverage you require.
  2. Research insurance providers: Look for reputable insurance providers that specialize in vehicle insurance. Compare quotes, coverage options, and customer reviews to find a reliable and trusted insurer.
  3. Understand policy coverage: Thoroughly review the insurance policy, including the types of coverage, policy limits, deductibles, exclusions, and any additional endorsements available. Make sure the policy aligns with your specific needs and provides sufficient protection.
  4. Provide accurate information: When applying for commercial motor vehicle insurance, provide accurate and detailed information about your business, vehicles, drivers, and any prior claims. Inaccurate information can lead to coverage issues or claims denial in the future.
  5. Consider additional coverage: Depending on your business needs, you may need additional coverage options such as uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage, hired/non-owned vehicle coverage, or roadside assistance. Discuss these options with your insurer to determine if they are necessary for your operations.
  6. Review and update regularly: As your business evolves, regularly review and update your insurance policy. Notify your insurer about any changes in vehicles, drivers, or operations to ensure continuous coverage.


Knowing what is a commercial vehicle along with getting the right commercial vehicle insurance is vital when running a business that relies on transportation. Commercial vehicle insurance brings protection against potential risks and liabilities associated with commercial vehicle operations. By understanding the nature of commercial vehicles and navigating the process of obtaining the right insurance coverage, business owners can safeguard their assets and ensure successful operations.

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Kira Odlozil

Written by Kira Odlozil

Based in San Diego, CA, Kira Odlozil is the Digital Content Coordinator at P-Fleet. She writes about fuel management, the trucking industry and business-related topics. When Kira isn’t writing, she’s cooking up new recipes, doing yoga, traveling or all of the above.