What car insurance options are worth considering as a limousine driver in Australia?
Limousines obviously aren’t like most cars and simply getting regular car insurance might not get you the right cover. If you have a limousine as a collector’s item or for your personal use, you can insure it as a prestige vehicle.
However, if you run a chauffeuring or limousine service it’s a bit more complicated. Insurance is typically purchased through intermediaries or brokers and some insurers will not even offer this type of cover except through a broker.
On the downside, purchasing through a broker can make policies considerably more expensive as a brokerage fee may be included in the premium.
This guide explains what to look for so you can compare policies yourself, whether you’re insuring a fleet or just a single limousine.
What is covered by limousine chauffeur insurance?
The three elements of cover to think about are motor vehicle insurance, general liability insurance and personal accident insurance, and policies will often divide them as such.
Motor vehicle insurance
This type of cover is generally like standard car insurance for your limousine.
With comprehensive motor vehicle insurance you are generally covered for a wide range of damage your limousine(s) might sustain, such as resulting from:
- Collisions or accidents
- Storm, hail, lightning or flooding
- Theft, vandalism and damage caused by attempted theft
Policies will typically entitle you to either claim the cost of needed repairs or insurers will carry out the repairs themselves, and you can also get a new vehicle or the full value of it in the event of a total loss (where the cost of repairing damage is more than the vehicle itself is worth).
Comprehensive policies also include third party property damage, which covers you for damage caused by insured limousines to other vehicles or property. If you choose third party property only cover instead of comprehensive cover, your policy will only include this type of insurance but is also likely to be cheaper.
Other features you might find with the “motor vehicle insurance” portion of cover can take the form of options or automatic inclusions depending on the insurer. These may include:
- Keys and locks: Cover for replacement keys and recoding of locks if keys are stolen.
- Driver property: Cover for a driver’s personal property, such as uniforms, phones or other items.
- Expediting expenses: To help cover temporary repairs or to expedite permanent repairs.
- Hire vehicle: Cover for the cost of temporarily hiring a replacement vehicle following theft.
- Journey disruption: To pay for the costs associated with a journey being disrupted, including overnight accommodation for drivers and passengers if needed and the cost of arranging new transportation to either the point of departure or the passenger’s destination.
- Removal, delivery and cleaning: The cost of cleaning up and removing debris which you may be liable for following an accident or other insured event.
- Signwriting: Cover for the cost of repairing or replacing any branding, signwriting or artwork on your vehicle that has been damaged.
- Encumbered vehicle cover: If an insured vehicle is still under finance when suffering a total loss, policies may pay a specified amount out to the lender to help cover the remaining cost of the loan.
- Downtime: Extra insurance benefits to compensate you for vehicle downtime, when it cannot be used for business purposes
General liability insurance
Typically, general liability insurance can cover you up to at least $10 million, although many insurers will offer up to $20 million for passenger injuries or losses for which you may be liable, such as if a passenger’s hand gets caught in a closing door or their property is damaged while in your care.
When a business purchases general liability insurance it will generally cover all drivers, directors and executives while they are performing job duties. If you are an owner driver working as a contractor, it can also cover potential liability to the principal that is employing you. As such, it’s generally a versatile and important form of business insurance.
The types of cover you can generally find with general liability insurance can include:
- Passenger injury cover: Insurance to cover certain legal and medical costs in the event of a passenger in your care being injured.
- Property damage: Insurance to cover certain legal and passenger-property damage or loss expenses.
- Advertising liability: Can help cover legal, settlement and compensation costs if you or your business is accused of slander, libel, copyright infringement, unfair competition, invasion of privacy or similar actions.
Personal accident insurance
This cover type refers to medical and personal accident insurance for you or your drivers. It may include cover such as:
- Funeral expenses cover in the event of you or a driver dying in an accident or following an insured event
- Lump sum benefits in the event of specific disabling injuries, such as quadriplegia, loss of limbs and similar
- Repatriation of a driver in the event of them being injured or killed a long way from home
Additional options to consider
Limousine and chauffeur insurance typically includes a range of options to help tailor cover to your business needs. Depending on the insurer and the policy these might also be automatically included or unavailable.
For example, depending on the policy some of the features listed above will only be available as optional extras.
Some of the options you might consider include:
- Fire and theft cover, along with third party vehicle insurance
- Insuring vehicle(s) at either market value or an agreed value
- Additional customer personal property cover
- Additional driver personal property cover
- No-excess windscreen claims, so no excess is payable when claiming windscreen damage
- No-claim bonus protection, to prevent your premiums from increasing following the first claim
- Hire vehicle following an accident
- Non-owned or supplied vehicle cover, to insure you while driving another vehicle not owned by you
- Uninsured motorist extension, for a degree of cover for damage in the event of an uninsured driver being responsible for an accident
- Crisis cover, for public relations expenses following an incident
- Disability modifications, to modify a vehicle when a disabled driver requires it
- No fault excess, so no excess is payable for claims up to a certain amount if you or the driver at the time was not at fault
- Novated lease cover, to insure employees and their immediate family members’ vehicles when provided under a novated lease agreement
- Emergency services liability, for costs you may owe to police, fire brigade or other emergency services following a loss or damage to an insured vehicle
- Psychological counselling, for reasonable counselling costs when required by you or an employee following an accident
- Registration cover, so your cover is not affected if a vehicle’s registration is suspended or cancelled following traffic or parking default
- Additional vehicle cover, to more easily insure new vehicles under the same terms
When won't you be covered?
All policies will come with exclusions. For business insurance policies such as limousine or chauffeur cover, these include both general exclusions which are applicable to all cover types and exclusions for specific cover types.
Overall, you are required to take all appropriate precautions to operate safely and legally, you need to maintain your vehicles appropriately and follow manufacturer recommendations, and you are not covered for willfully damaging your own property.
- Acts of terrorism or war
- Asbestos- or radioactivity-related claims
- Damage arising while an insured vehicle is carrying dangerous goods
- A vehicle not being legally roadworthy, overloaded with too many passengers or otherwise operated in a manner not consistent with manufacturer specifications
- Unlawful acts, including a driver being unlicensed or under the influence
- Any damage arising from watercraft, aircraft or cover craft
Vehicle damage exclusions
You are generally not covered for:
- Lawful seizure of your vehicle by authorities or debt collectors
- Consequential losses of being unable to use your vehicle, such as lost income, unless your policy explicitly covers this elsewhere.
- Obsolete parts which are no longer made or which cost more than the manufacturer’s latest list price
- Failure to secure your vehicle, such as if it wasn’t locked at the time of theft
- Tyre damage caused by brake application or road punctures
- Vehicle deterioration, wear and tear, rust, corrosion, faulty workmanship or other errors and failures to maintain it
Liability insurance exclusions
You are generally not able to claim legal costs for deliberate failures on your end, such as not upholding the terms of a contract or deliberately stealing copyrighted material. It also does not cover specific things such as damage or loss arising from Internet operations like computer viruses, or claims made against you for tobacco smoke, such as if a passenger claims that they were injured by a driver’s smoking.
What excess will be charged?
The excess is essentially how much will need to be paid by you in the event of a claim. Depending on the policy and the claim, more than one excess can apply, or none at all.
The different types of excess you may encounter include:
- Basic excess: A generally-adjustable excess you can choose, with higher amounts leading to lower premiums and vice versa.
- Age or inexperienced driver excess: Younger drivers may incur additional excesses, specifically under 25s, while over 25s who have held the relevant licence for less than two years may also incur an additional excess.
What impacts the insurance premiums?
The premiums are the regular, ongoing costs of holding a policy. Your premiums are generally determined by:
- The vehicle(s) insured, including the make and model, and total value
- The location of your business and operating radius of your vehicles
- The types of cover included in your policy, including options and features
- The age of the vehicle drivers
- Your previous driving history and claims history
- Your chosen basic excess
What to look for when comparing policies
Due to the exceptionally wide range of benefits, features and options available with chauffeur and limousine insurance, it may be a good idea to consult a business insurance broker for help finding appropriate cover.
This can help you find a wider range of policies, as well as provide help in tailoring a policy to meet your needs. However, it may also result in additional costs.
If you are looking at finding cover for yourself or your business, you may want to separately consider your needs and preferred options for each cover type.