Driving on Inn Business? What You Need to Know

Due to the nature of most inn-keeping business models, owning a vehicle is not a key asset. Most innkeepers, however, personally own a vehicle and insure it under their personal car insurance. This is fine, except that every innkeeper I have ever spoken with drives his or her personal car for inn business. Innkeepers go to the store to pick up food, run errands, and maybe in an emergency, take a guest to the hospital.

So how does insurance work when you are driving a personal vehicle for business like this? All personal car insurance policies are written in the same way; for example, if Joe causes an accident while driving his personal vehicle for his business of “Joe’s Inn, LLC”, the car insurance policy will pay to defend both Joe and the Inn. Provided Joe has sufficient auto insurance liability (I often recommend all inn owners carry a $1M umbrella – typically an additional $200 annually), both the inn and Joe should be protected.

What happens if you are transporting a guest? I strongly discourage regularly transporting guests in your personal vehicle for a variety of reasons – the most salient of which is that all personal auto insurance policies, no matter your insurance company, carry a “livery exclusion.” This means that if you are carrying someone in your car in exchange for money, your insurer can probably avoid paying a claim if you get into an accident. If a guest is injured and you feel the right thing to do is to take him or her to the emergency room at the hospital, go ahead and do it – as a favor to your guest! Be sure not to accept compensation for it.

If you do want to regularly provide transportation for guests, or have your employees drive the vehicle, I would recommend a commercial insurance policy as a better fit for your needs.

If you have any questions about this topic, contact us anytime and we would be happy to help.

James Dick, CPCU, AAI