Shuman Roy is an entrepreneur, business owner, and musician. He started RoysNoys, LLC in 2013 as a music production and education service company. He also offers small business consulting and advisory services to help businesses get from start-up mode to turn-key operations. Shuman earned his M.B.A from the Stern School of Business in 2001 and has an undergraduate degree from Manhattan College in ...

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Content Writer & Entrepreneur Shuman Roy

Joel Ohman is the CEO of a private equity-backed digital media company. He is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, author, angel investor, and serial entrepreneur who loves creating new things, whether books or businesses. He has also previously served as the founder and resident CFP® of a national insurance agency, Real Time Health Quotes. He has an MBA from the University of South Florida. Joel...

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Reviewed by Joel Ohman
Founder, CFP® Joel Ohman

UPDATED: Jun 6, 2022

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Commercial auto insurance differs significantly from personal auto insurance in terms of insurance premiums and what they include for their customers. Thus, commercial auto symbols will differ from personal auto insurance symbols as well. 

Business auto insurance forms provide business owners with a few more options for choosing particular coverage types for specific vehicles they own.

These options are known as “coverage symbols” or “covered auto symbols.” In commercial auto insurance policies, these numbers provide specific details about the types of vehicles covered. You will see the symbols on the declarations page of your auto policy next to each coverage you have purchased.

When interpreting coverage symbols on your policy, you should keep the following points in mind:

  • The symbols indicate the type of vehicle covered by the liability or physical damage limit, regardless of ownership.
  • The symbols indicate whether vehicles used in business operations are insured against liability, physical damage, and medical payments.

What does commercial auto insurance cover?

Commercial insurance can provide both liability and physical damage coverage for small and large fleets of vehicles owned by businesses. In addition, the policies cover any damages you or your employees may cause to people or their property while driving.

The following provisions may be included in a commercial auto policy:

  • Vehicle liability. In case of a covered auto accident, the policy reimburses you and your company for bodily injury damages or property damages.
  • Medical payments. Employees and passengers involved in a car accident are covered for medical expenses up to the coverage limit, regardless of who caused the accident.
  • Comprehensive coverage. This coverage helps pay for vehicle damage caused by something other than another vehicle, such as vandalism, theft, severe weather, and accidents involving animals (subject to deductibles).
  • Collision coverage. The policy covers damage to your vehicle due to hitting another vehicle or object, regardless of who is at fault.
  • Uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage. You and your employees will be covered for medical expenses, lost income, and other damages if you, your employees, or your passengers are involved in a car accident caused by an uninsured or underinsured motorist.

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Purpose of Insurance Symbols

Symbols are listed below for various coverage types (For example, Symbol 5 for no-fault coverage, Symbol 7 for any type of coverage, Symbol 10 for business or commercial auto, and so on).

Policies will only cover vehicles as indicated by their symbols as applicable covered autos. As a result, it is extremely important to carefully review and understand the various coverage symbols so you know exactly what is covered by your policy. A typographical error or a wrong symbol could lead to unwanted complications in the event of a claim.

SymbolSymbol TypeWhat It Covers
1Any AutoCoverage for any vehicle
2Owned Autos OnlyCoverage for any vehicles you own
3Owned Private Passenger VehiclesCoverage for vehicles you own of the private passenger type
4Owned Autos — Not Private PassengerCoverage for vehicles you own that are not private passenger types, such as commercial trucks or buses
5Owned Autos — PIP CoverageNo-fault coverage for vehicles you own
6Owned Autos — Uninsured Motorist CoverageUninsured motorist coverage for vehicles you own
7Specified Auto CoverageCoverage for vehicles specifically listed on the policy
8Hired Auto CoverageCoverage for vehicles that are rented, leased, borrowed, or hired for use in your business
9Non-Owned Auto CoverageCoverage for vehicles you do not own, rent, lease, borrow or hire, but are used for your business
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Symbol 1 — Any Auto

This is the most comprehensive symbol available to a person who can show they have insurance on the business auto coverage form.

Symbol 1 dictates that coverage is provided for any auto used for business operations. This includes vehicles the insured party owns, rents, or hires for their day-to-day operations.

Insurance companies are often hesitant to offer this coverage. It puts them in a position where they may end up covering vehicles they are unaware of. It also makes it difficult to gauge an accurate insurance premium based on the amount of risk they are actually insuring against.

Picture this: the insurer writes a policy with symbol 1 coverage for a company that owns only one vehicle. The insured party then rents 25 vehicles to drive around the U.S., making deliveries right after the policy is issued.

The insurer has a much higher chance of paying out claims for 25 vehicles they may not even be aware they are insuring. If this were to happen, they would end up losing money on the policy rather than making money. Simply put, the rates they offer cover the vehicles they’re told about, and if they’re not advised that there will be 25 additional vehicles, they have no way of knowing those are suddenly part of the insurance plan.

Auto Symbol 2 — Owned Autos Only

This symbol is designed to cover exactly what it says — only those vehicles owned by the insured. The real distinction here is the coverage for physical damage.

For example, an insured party may want to purchase liability-only coverage for hired and non-owned vehicles. As long as the proposed plan rates work within their budget, this symbol is a good option. By using this plan type, the consumer could easily differentiate the types of coverage on their business vehicles based on ownership status.

This symbol does not provide coverage for hired and non-owned vehicles, which are covered under symbols discussed further down the list.

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Symbol 3 — Owned Private Passenger Vehicles

This symbol is intended to provide coverage only for private passenger autos and excludes coverage for trucks, buses, and other similar vehicles. There is no coverage for hired and non-owned vehicles under this symbol. A company that uses a few private passenger vehicles for a sales team might request this coverage.

Symbol 4 — Owned Autos, Not Private Passenger

This symbol type is the counterpart to the previous option, offering coverage for trucks and buses that would not be covered under symbol 3. This symbol does not offer coverage for any owned, personal vehicles and does not offer coverage for hired and non-owned vehicles.

Symbol 5 — Owned Autos — PIP Coverage

Personal injury protection coverage requirements vary by state. In states where it is mandatory (no-fault states), this symbol is added to provide the necessary PIP coverage for vehicles on a policy.

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Symbol 6 — Owned Autos — Uninsured Motorist Coverage

Similar to the PIP laws in no-fault states, uninsured motorist coverage is not mandatory on all owned vehicles in every state. Symbol 6 would be applied to any autos that require this coverage in a particular state.

Symbol 7 — Specified Auto Coverage

Symbol 7 commercial auto is the most commonly used symbol on a business or commercial auto insurance policy. Symbol 7 auto coverage is designed to provide coverage to autos specifically listed on the policy (similar to a personal auto policy). Owned vehicles are listed by VIN, and the policyholder pays a premium to cover those vehicles only.

One of the main reasons this coverage symbol is the most prevalent is that it is usually the most cost-effective coverage option. For many insurance seekers, plan cost is often a deciding factor when narrowing down options.

Symbols 1, 2, 3, and 4 do not require policyholders to list every vehicle they own on a policy as they are added or removed. These plans come with higher premiums in exchange for their flexibility, as a buffer for the insurance company to protect themselves against paying claims for extra vehicles they are not aware they are insuring.

Liability coverage is available on this symbol for non-owned trailers while they are attached to the owned vehicles listed on the declarations page of your policy. There is no coverage for hired and non-owned vehicles under this symbol, but the last two symbols cover those options.

Symbol 8 — Hired Auto Coverage

Symbol 8 auto coverage only provides coverage for vehicles that are rented, leased, borrowed, or hired for use by a business. Among these qualified autos are vehicles used by drivers for delivery or livery services for a business.

For example, if the delivery vehicle for a flower business is out of commission, they may opt to hire a temporary vehicle to make their regularly-scheduled deliveries until their fleet vehicle is ready to hit the road again. Symbol 8 commercial auto insurance would cover any liability claims associated with operating the hired vehicle (an option unavailable under symbol 7).

This symbol does not provide coverage for vehicles that are rented, leased, borrowed, or hired from a family member or any other member of your organization.

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Symbol 9 — Non-owned Auto Coverage

Symbol 9 coverage fills in the provision gaps in Symbol 8. Coverage is provided only for vehicles that the business does not own, rent, lease, borrow, or hire but are used for your business. Personal vehicles owned by employees and used for business purposes are covered under this symbol type.

For example, if an employee drives to the post office to mail documents for the insured party using their personal vehicle and the employee causes an accident, symbol 9 coverage would kick in.

Symbol 19 — Mobile Equipment

Symbol 19 applies to any land vehicle deemed to be mobile equipment under the company’s auto insurance policy.

This symbol is rarely used as its provisions are mostly covered in the definitions of symbols 1 and 2 (equipment like a bulldozer and forklift are also considered vehicles driven on public roads) or any other symbol that triggers coverage for your commercial vehicles.

Symbol 19 usually appears in conjunction with symbol 7. Additionally, you can use it if you purchase mobile equipment during the policy period (provided the vehicle is insured for liability and none of the existing policy symbols fit the situation).

What vehicles do these auto symbols refer to?

A commercial auto insurance policy and its corresponding coverage symbols usually refer to these vehicles:

  • Personal or passenger vehicles
  • Vans
  • Small trucks
  • Heavy and extra heavy-duty trucks
  • Commercial trailers
  • Commercial fleets
  • Specialty vehicles

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What does the custom symbol on my declarations page mean?

Occasionally, the type of coverage needed may not fit neatly under an existing symbol. In such cases, a special or custom symbol is added to the policy.

With custom symbols, the insurer and named insured may agree on modified wording better suited for defining “covered autos” for the policy. Most custom symbols include a detailed explanation of the symbol’s meaning and the policy’s relevant coverages.

Using Commercial Auto Insurance Symbols Correctly

Ensure you know what vehicles your business operates, who owns them, and how each policy applies to those vehicles. A symbol can be adjusted to reflect how coverage applies to a vehicle. For instance, a business that owns a vehicle that frequently carries non-employees would benefit from a policy that includes medical payments.

The Bottom Line

Understanding these symbols may feel like learning a new language, but understanding your coverage is integral to protecting your business on the go.

We understand it can be challenging to find affordable plan rates, as well as what kind of coverage you and your company need. Before deciding on a suitable policy, be sure to compare insurance quotes online and speak to an independent insurance agent to ensure you get the exact coverage you or your business need.