Exclusively from Foa & Son
The standard ISO (Insurance Services Office) business auto insurance policy, widely used to afford coverage for commercial motor vehicles, uses an interesting way to determine what types of vehicles are actually covered by the policy…symbols.
Right on the first page of the Business Auto Coverage Form, under Section 1, Covered Autos, is a table entitled Description of Covered Auto Designation Symbols. There are nine numbered symbols, from 1, Any Auto, the broadest, to eight other ever more narrow definitions. You should know about these, since these symbols, and their definitions, define what vehicles are covered by the policy.
A quick listing of symbols, and what they define as a covered vehicle (italics added):
Symbol: 1. Any “Auto”
2. Owned “Autos” Only
3. Owned Private Passenger “Autos” Only
4. Owned Other than Private Passenger “Autos” Only
5. Owned “Autos” Subject to No Fault
6. Owned “Autos” Subject to a Compulsory Uninsured Motorist Law
7. Specifically Described “Autos”
8. Hired “Autos” Only
9. Non-owned “Autos” Only
Note that “Auto” is a defined term, it means, in abbreviated form, any land motor vehicle, trailer or semitrailer designed for travel on public roads.
Also worth noting is that these symbols are never the same for all coverages found in the policy. Liability, uninsured motorist, collision, comprehensive, all will have different symbols describing what vehicles are covered by the policy.
So why is this important? Quite simply, if you don’t get the symbols right you could find yourself in an uninsured vehicle. Say your policy is written with symbol 2 for liability coverage, then you lease a car. Is a leased car an Owned “Auto”? No, its not, and its not covered. Perhaps you have symbol 7 on your policy, then trade in a vehicle for another. Did you tell the insurance company? The new one is not Specifically Described, so its not covered.
Ideally, you’ll always want your liability coverage to be written with symbol 1. You’ll be covered for liability.