Garage insurance is a much misunderstood policy form. Many professional insurance agents are confused about exactly when to use it and more importantly exactly how. You can use a garage liability policy to protect a used car dealer, often referred to as dealer’s insurance, or you can use this same form to protect an automotive repair shop or to set up body shop insurance. The trick is to know the symbols. If you own a car dealership or an automotive repair shop and are purchasing insurance for your business, it is advisable that you find an agent who specializes in the garage insurance form to help you with this purchase so you don’t end up with the wrong form and perhaps find yourself without coverage after a large loss.
As I mentioned earlier, both types of businesses, auto repair and or body shops and used car dealers both need the garage policy. But exactly what kind of operations are covered in these policies is driven by the symbols shown on the policy. This is very important. If your business is automotive repair or body work but your policy is set up with symbols that would apply to a car dealership, you could find yourself without coverage in the event of a liability loss.
So how do you know if you have the correct symbols and thus the correct form? Pull out your garage policy and look at the first page. Beside each type of coverage, usually to the left, there will be a least one two digit number between 21 and 31. These symbols will describe what is protected by the coverage shown beside that symbol. Here is a list of the most common symbols and what each one protects:
Symbol 21 Any auto
Symbol 22 All owned autos
Symbol 23 Owned private passenger autos only
Symbol 24 Owned autos other than private passenger
Symbol 25 Owned autos subject to no fault laws
Symbol 26 Owned autos subject to Uninsured Motorists law
Symbol 27 Specifically described autos
Symbol 28 Hired autos only
Symbol 29 Non-Owned autos used in the Garage Business
Symbol 30 Autos Left for Service/Repair/Storage
Symbol 31 Autos on Consignment
As you have probably figured out, if you are an automobile dealer and you have symbol 30 on your policy, you would find yourself without coverage. So why not just put symbol 21 on all coverages? Well, since code 21 is the broadest coverage, you would have to pay more for this insurance policy and in some cases you might be purchasing insurance protection that you didn’t really need.
Take some time to look at your policy carefully and review the symbols for each line of coverage to make sure that they are appropriate for the work you do. If you need help with this process, consult your agent. If you agent doesn’t specialize in businesses needing garage policy, ie dealers insurance and auto repair shop insurance, then find one who does. This protection is just too important to leave up to an agent who is practicing on the job learning on your policies.