After the harshness of winter and with the beautiful weather upon us, many car enthusiasts will seek a professional auto detailer to clean, polish, and wax the interior and exterior of their vehicles to a spiffy finish. 

Vehicle owners and car enthusiasts who value their wheels want more than what an automatic car wash can provide. They want an auto detailing service offered by experienced professionals to make their vehicles dazzle with a thorough cleaning, paint correction and scratch removal, restore the clarity of their headlights, and a ceramic coating to protect their cars with a semi-permanent protective layer.

There are an estimated 3,580 car wash and auto detailing businesses in Canada, according to IBISWorld, and the industry grew by 1.5% per year on average between 2018 and 2023. That ups the competition among auto detailing professionals.

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Among the ways auto detailers differentiate themselves is by offering mobile auto detailing services – travelling to their client’s locations to deep clean their cars. Another key differentiator professional auto detailers should consider is a comprehensive auto detailing insurance policy. Here’s why:

8 Liability Risks Mobile Auto Detailing Businesses Face

Insurance for your auto detailing business protects you and your customers from various risks and damages and can run into thousands of dollars. Having a customized policy gives you and your customers peace of mind, knowing that if something goes awry, you have the coverage to help pay for it.

There are many risks mobile auto detailers face. Among the eight most common are:

1. Damage to a customer’s vehicle

Meticulously cleaning the exterior and interior of customer vehicles using specialized tools and products to remove dirt, stains, and contaminants can result in accidental scratches and dents to the car’s body. 

2. Theft or loss of customer property

If items inside a customer’s vehicle are stolen or go inexplicably missing while the vehicle is in your care, custody, and control, the onus will be on you to pay to replace those items.

3. Negligence or poor workmanship

An allegation of professional negligence or poor work against you by a customer can result in legal action that puts your finances at risk.

4. Injuries to customers or passersby

If you’re working on a customer’s vehicle at their home or in your shop and they trip and are injured in a fall, or if a passerby or neighbour is hurt because of your work, you can be held responsible for their medical expenses.

5. Environmental damage

Improperly disposing of wastewater or chemicals can lead to environmental damage to others’ property or affect people’s health. That can lead to expensive cleanup costs, fines from authorities, or personal injury lawsuits.

6. An auto accident

You drive to various customer locations to provide mobile auto detailing services. If you get into an auto accident, it can result in significant damage to your and other vehicles and bodily injuries.

7. Theft of your tools and equipment

Any skilled tradesperson or detailer needs expensive tools and equipment to do their jobs. Unfortunately, thieves are always on the hunt for the opportunity to steal tools or equipment. Replacing them is not cheap.

8. Damage to your business property

The garage or shop where your business is located (including a home-based business) could be damaged by fire, water, or a natural disaster like wildfire, extreme weather, theft, or vandalism. 

What Does a Comprehensive Auto Detailing Insurance Policy Provide?

Selecting the right type of insurance to safeguard your assets and protect your business from the everyday risks a mobile auto detailer may face is vital for your financial wellness. 

What an insurance policy for your business includes depends on your services and other aspects of your company. Typically, an auto detailing insurance policy includes the following:

  • General liability insurance: Covers third-party bodily injury and third-party property damage claims. If a customer is injured on your premises or where you’re working, or if you accidentally damage their vehicle, general liability coverage is designed to cover those costs.
  • Tools and equipment insurance: Covers repairing or replacing your transportable tools and equipment if stolen, vandalized, or damaged by an insurable loss, such as a fire. It is critical coverage for mobile auto detailers carting their gear to various customer locations.
  • Garage liability insurance: All auto detailing and automotive businesses need garage liability coverage. Whenever a customer’s vehicle is in your care, custody, and control, this type of insurance pays for damages to that vehicle that may occur while being worked on, parked on your property, or driven by an employee.
  • Commercial auto insurance: Mobile auto detailers need commercial auto insurance to protect their vehicles and trailers if damaged in an accident. Private-passenger auto insurance is not designed to cover vehicles used for commercial purposes. 
  • Cyber liability insurance: Cyber liability insurance covers the losses resulting from cybercrime, such as cyber-attacks, email phishing attacks, malware attacks, and data breaches that expose your business and customers’ information. No doubt your auto detailing business has a website and uses email, social media, and a point-of-sale (POS) system to accept digital payments. Any of these can be compromised by a cyber incident that could put your finances at risk.

There may be other types of insurance your auto detailing business needs, such as:

  • Equipment breakdown insurance: The equipment in your shop could unexpectedly cease to operate properly because of an internal mechanical or electrical malfunction. Equipment breakdown insurance pays to repair or replace almost any equipment, including your shop’s HVAC system, computers, and office equipment like a photocopier.
  • Commercial property insurance: Wherever your auto detailing business is located and the type of structure, you’ll need commercial property insurance to cover costs associated with fire and water damage, extreme weather, theft, and vandalism. Business interruption insurance may be included with property coverage to cover your lost income if you’re forced to close your shop for repairs following an insurable loss. If it isn’t, you can add it to your policy.
  • Pollution liability insurance: The cleaners and chemicals you use to make vehicles spotless can have detrimental impacts on people and the environment. Solvent-based degreasers, paint protectors and waxes, salt stain removers, deodorizers and leather cleansers could trigger illnesses in your customers or affect the soil on a customer’s or neighbouring property. Pollution liability insurance covers third-party bodily injury expenses, cleanup costs, and environmental damage to others’ property.

How to Get Low-Cost Auto Detailing Insurance

Zensurance protects auto detailers, small businesses, and independent professionals with customized, low-cost business insurance.

It’s easy to get the auto detailing insurance you need online by completing an application for a free quote.

Let us worry about finding the protection you need at an affordable price from one of more than 50 insurance providers in our partner network. Our licensed insurance brokers are experts who can advise you on the coverages and coverage limits you need and instantly issue you a certificate of insurance.

We’ll help you keep your finances and assets safe and your reputation spotless.

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About the Author: Shelly Petrie

Shelly Petrie is a Team Lead, Digital Solutions Team, Zensurance.