Executives are always looking for ways to be more effective, and while you may have aced doing work on airplanes and in airport lounges and hotel rooms, have you properly adapted your vehicle to be a mobile office?
Let us help you ace the new work/life/car balance. We'll detail why it's important to enhance your mobile office, what gear to get, and if you need business auto insurance.
Why You Should Turn Your Car Into a Mobile Office
Besides not doubling your expenses on a car loan, gas, maintenance, parking, and registration on having a separate car for business, here are three other factors to ponder about how using your personal vehicle for business could be beneficial for you.
#1 – Stay on Top of the Trend
Being on the go looks to be here to stay.
Individual workspaces in static physical workplaces have been on the decline, even before the pandemic. Offices were only 30% utilized pre-pandemic, according to a study by the workplace analytics platform VergeSense. By January 2021, utilization was down 2.8 times more, to 7.9%.
And the workplace is being reimagined — less for individual work, and more for collaboration. The study also noted that pre-pandemic, collaborative spaces were utilized 25% more than spaces dedicated to individual work. By January 2021, collaboration usage increased 15%.
So you’ll not only be spending less time in the office, but you may also have less space for your individual needs and expression. Instead of desks and offices, the focus is now on conference rooms, lounges, and huddle spaces.
In a personal car you accommodate for business use, you can devote the space to your individual focus, needs, and wants related to enhancing your work.
#2 – Do Business Better
We are all creatures of habit, and we become accustomed to favoring the familiar.
Using a personal car over a company car can be a better option because it won’t only be more comfortable but, especially for executives, it will help decrease decision fatigue.
You won’t have to clutter your brain with decisions related to dealing with an additional vehicle, from adjustments between two different sets of vehicle features to the time and costs involved to maintain two separate vehicles. You can keep your grey matter focused on making important decisions well.
Using your personal vehicle for business will also give you more control over your environment and enhance your productivity while being mobile. You can outfit your personal car with whatever equipment you want to do your job better without having to go through the red tape of trying to get a company car outfitted with what you want.
And if you love having all of the latest bells and whistles in your ride, using your car for business could be a great way to get the most out of the latest tech-related amenities. Cars are getting smarter, so why not take advantage when you have to spend work time on the road?
#3 – Get Tax Deductions
Deciding to use your car for business can help at tax time since you can deduct certain business-related expenses. You have two options for claiming deductions:
Actual expenses. This includes the actual costs of operating your car for business use, so you can deduct the business-related portion of costs related to gas, oil, repairs, tires, insurance, registration fees, licences, and depreciation (or lease payments).
Standard mileage rate. Multiply the standard mileage deduction (56 cents in 2021) by the number of business miles traveled during the year.
Deduct car expenses such as parking fees and tolls attributable to business use separately, no matter which method you choose.
If you opt for the standard mileage rate method, it allows you to bypass certain limits and restrictions. It’s also simpler. But it’s often less advantageous in monetary terms. Generally, the standard mileage method benefits taxpayers who have less expensive vehicles or who travel many business miles.
Keep track of the number of miles driven and the total amount you spend on your vehicle so your tax advisor can determine which option is more advantageous. And when you claim business use on your tax return, tax law requires that you keep travel expense records, including receipts if you use the actual expenses method.
Use a mileage logbook or even better, an app. There are several that can help you track your business expenses, including mileage and billable time. You can create formatted reports that are easy to share with your certified public accountant, enrolled agent, or tax preparer.
If you don’t already have a separate credit card for business, consider using one to simplify for recordkeeping.
Items You Need to Turn a Car Into a Mobile Office
Although you may consider yourself a business travel pro for conquering the challenges of taking care of business around long-distance travel, becoming a mobile office pro is a bit different.
Since you’ll have more space to work with than an airplane seat, and more permanence than a hotel room, here are some business enhancers best suited to outfit your vehicle for work mode.
Work Items for Your Car Office
Apps and web tools in which you can work offline
Anti-glare screen protector
Cloud for data security
Laptop or tablet
Laptop wheel desk
Wi-Fi hotspot or booster
Comfort & Style Items for Your Car Office
Car emergency kit
Coffee thermos or coffee machine
First aid kit
Headrest-mounted coat hangers
Mini fridge or electric cooler
How to Insure Your Car as a Mobile Office
The downsides of using your personal vehicle for business use are that you’re adding mileage on your car that you normally wouldn’t, and you may need additional insurance coverage.
Why You Need to Check Your Insurance
How you use your vehicle has an impact on your auto insurance.
If it has been a while since you talked to an insurance agent as part of comparison-shopping rates or filled out an auto insurance application, you may have forgotten that you’re asked about the intended use of the vehicle you’re insuring.
The insurer needs that information because they have to determine what kind of coverage you need based on the vehicle’s intended usage. So even if you have a family vehicle, what you do to and in that car will determine if you need business auto insurance or you’re covered by your personal policy.
If you’re a professional who drives your personal auto for business use, you could be fine carrying strictly a personal auto policy.
But for your insurer to pay, you must notify them that you’re driving for business so that you can be charged the right rates for the risk that you’re presenting. While business use is the highest risk class and comes with the highest sticker price, it’s a class that gives you the option to buy standard insurance without needing a business policy.
Since there’s a long list of determinants insurance companies use to calculate vehicle usage, you need to review your auto insurance requirements and the exclusions with your insurance agent.
That way you can avoid having a loss if you have an accident when you’re working: When you file a claim, it could be denied because the insurer did not know about your business usage.
When You Need Business Auto Insurance
The type of vehicle you’re driving may exclude you from a personal auto policy. While compacts, coupes, sedans, wagons, and minivans that are used for appropriate types of business can be covered under a personal policy, some policies won’t extend business coverage to a pickup truck or a van that’s used for any type of professional purposes.
Some usage types would automatically make you ineligible for personal insurance even if you drive your vehicle for both business and pleasure. These include if the vehicle is used for the delivery of goods and supplies, to transport people, is driven by employees on an occasional basis, or is rented or leased to others.
The Best Business Auto Insurance
If you do need business auto insurance, expect to pay on average a little over $300 a month.
When you talk to your insurance agent about your coverage to drive your vehicle for business for your situation, their option may be the most affordable and applicable for you.
But it doesn’t hurt to use a rating comparison tool online to see what else is available. Rates and details change from carrier to carrier. Geico, Progressive, GMAC, Nationwide, and State Farm are the most recommended insurance providers for policies for business usage of your vehicle.
We hope we’ve helped you with ideas and insurance advice about multi-tasking your personal vehicle. You’ll be able to escape your office or your home and get a change of scenery but still have maximum productivity, convenience, and comfort to steer you towards business success.