If you are considering buying a new truck for your personal use, you probably already know what kind you want and what you need it to do. However, as you walk through the lot at the dealership you need to ask the sales person if the truck is classified as commercial or not. Contrary to common belief, a truck does not have to be used for business purposes or be a big rig tractor trailer to be considered commercial. Here are a few things that will make the vehicle other than personal and why you need to know this.
Gross Vehicle Weight
Each state has a regulation detailing when a truck's weight makes it commercial. For example, in California, most pickup trucks are classified as commercial even when they weigh less than 8,000 pounds. However, in New York State, if the vehicle weighs more than 6,000 pounds, it must be registered as commercial. The dealer should know the laws of the state and be able to tell you if the weight of the truck makes it a commercial vehicle or not.
Hauling Loads or Trailers
Even though the truck may be considered a passenger vehicle by itself, if you plan on hauling heavy loads or using a trailer, even a travel trailer, you may want to mention this. The added weight and/or axles may put the vehicle into the commercial category.
An Important Difference
When you register the vehicle, you will have to pay a higher fee if it is commercial. You will also need to insure it as commercial, which will cost your more. You might be able to register it as a passenger vehicle if it is not over the weight limit. However, if you are in an accident and a trailer or the load pushes things to the commercial category, things can get sticky. A lawyer may claim the commercial category and you will not have the insurance to cover it. This means you may be held responsible for the difference if things go to a lawsuit. In addition, your insurance company may claim fraud and not cover you for any claims involving the vehicle.
Talk with the dealer and explain how you will be using the truck. To be absolutely sure everything is legal and you have the proper insurance and make sure you discuss everything with the insurance agent too. You do not want to end up with a large debt because you did not insure the vehicle properly.