Opening up a food truck is an increasingly common dream. You picture lines of people forming on sunny days to hand over some green, and in exchange you treat them to your dazzlingly convenient gourmet concoctions.
But hold up a minute. Let me be the “bad” guy–or maybe just the “boring” guy–and bring up the need for insurance. Do you have safety nets in place for your new business? What happens if your cook falls? What if when they fall, they catch themself by putting their hand on a blade, cutting deep enough for them to bleed? What if it’s really busy and they’re just as motivated as you, so they put a bandaid on it, hope for the best, and keep working? What if a customer notices and complaints?
Look, I’m not saying that all these things will go wrong at that magnitude. But I do strongly believe that playing devils advocate and being prepared for the worst is much better than being optimistic with no back up plan. Because I don’t know your budget or where you’re living, I’m not going to pander to the national companies and list them here as the “best.” I’m simply going to arm you with an arsenal of questions to ask as you discuss a policy with whatever provider you decide is best:
1. Am I protected when I get into an auto accident?
However, let’s tweak this scenario. Whoever is behind the wheel of your truck realizes that you’re late getting to this really big, crunchy granola hippy event. You’re sure to make thousands of dollars over the course of a few hours. While picturing the lines of inebriated concert go-ers begging for edibles, the second realization hits: there are three other food trucks coming, and if you’re too late, everyone will already be committed to a line. Your profits will be a fraction of what they should be.
Oh no, a yellow light! I…uh.. I can get through this!
You’ve run a red light. And guess what, it caused an accident of the same caliber as the first scenario, except it’s your fault. What now?
2. Do I have coverage for food poisoning claims?
But what if the fridge goes out? What if there’s a recall? What if a customer says they’re allergic to an ingredient but they’re a mumbler?
3. What happens if the truck is stolen or vandalized?
Make sure that your insurance will replace your truck, all the renovations you likely will have to make to it, and everything in it. In order to really take advantage of this, make sure take pictures of the inside before you use it for the first time, but after you’ve made any and all alterations to it. Keep receipts. And of course, keep an inventory of any loose goods, such as cooking supplies (pots, pans, etc.) that you keep in it.
4. If I’m towing, do those items need their own coverage?
What About Everything Else?
- Commercial Auto Liability — may be covered under your truck insurance, depending on your policy. This one can be tricky; make sure not to get “personal auto that includes business usage,” but the full commercial policy.
- General Liability — this will be a la carte, and you can tailor it towards your specific business. Factor in everything that will happen after you’ve parked the truck and are open for business. This can cover bodily injuries and property damage, as well as many other things.
- Business Personal Property — simply put this covers anything that isn’t bolted to your truck, but still a part of your business. Pots, industrial mixer, barbeque, smoker, anything.
- Workers’ Compensation — This covers employees who need medical treatment because of injuries or illness while on the job. Definitely a must for a restaurant, and a double must for a mobile business. I think that makes this a … triple must? Just get it.
- Unemployment Insurance — If you plan on having the option of firing your employees, this is a great idea to have, and legally required most places.
- Umbrella Liability — Exactly how it sounds. Covers everything you didn’t think of so far.
- Additional Insured Certificates — These are specifically for food trucks and event planners. Every time you park at an event, you’ll likely have to fork over some more cash to protect the venue from any damage, should your truck decide to spontaneously combust.