As our clients around the country are renewing their guide liability insurance and guiding licenses, we’ve been receiving some new questions that haven’t come up very often in the past. The current leader in the clubhouse is “A National Park is requiring me to have $1,000,000 in commercial auto coverage or I won’t be able to guide clients in their Park. How do I get this coverage?”.
In addition to the NPS requiring this coverage, some states in the West like CO and MT, are starting to require this auto coverage when you apply for your Guide or Outfitter License. We’ll get into the reasons why later in this post, but first let’s address how to get this coverage as inexpensively as possible.
The simple answer is to call the company that you buy your personal auto insurance from, and ask them to add “commercial use” to your auto policy with a $1,000,000 limit. That might be your local independent agent or the national company that you buy your car insurance online from. The cost of this coverage can vary depending on what you drive, where you live, whether your car is leased or owned, as well as what your deductible is. Based on our small sample size, you can get this added to your policy for as low as $40 a year, up to $300 a year.
When I investigated it for myself, it would cost me $44 a year with a $1000 deductible. If you have a lower deductible like $250 or $500, it will be more expensive. These are estimates, and your mileage may vary.
So, this begs the question,
“Why is the National Park Service making you buy Commercial Auto Insurance?“
I have a couple hunches (if you’ve been told specifically why they’re requiring this, please let us know in the comments)
1. Driving Paying Clients
If you’re driving paying clients in your personal automobile without Commercial Use coverage, you have ZERO insurance coverage on your policy. If you got into an accident and one of your clients gets injured they or their family may sue you, and because you have no commercial auto coverage, they’ll try to sue the Park. (Individuals don’t usually succeed in suing the federal government, which is why we have no additional charges on our policy when a government entity requests they be named as an ‘additional insured’.)
2. Earning money by utilizing a public resource
You’re earning money by utilizing a public resource and need to be properly insured like any for-profits business operating within the park system. Because income taxes and the annual fees to register your boat for use in the park wasn’t enough…
3. Guide liability includes auto coverage for transporting clients
There has been an assumption by both guides and the parks that your guide liability includes auto coverage for transporting clients, which it almost always does NOT.
This is the first in a series of posts which will address Commercial Auto Liability for fishing guides and outfitters. Stay tuned for parts 2 & 3 where we’ll dig into whether you have insurance for the rods in your cartop case and why you can’t add commercial auto coverage to your guide liability policy.
If you have any other questions or topics you’d like us to address on the blog, please leave a note in the comments or email us anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org