Scott Wooley had no experience in the food service industry, save for waiting tables in college. He had a successful career in sales and management and not many reasons to open a restaurant. But when he was diagnosed with terminal cancer in 2010, his personal narrative changed course.
"They told me nothing could be done," Wooley said. Bracing for the worst, he considered it a miracle when his doctors told him his cancer had disappeared. He took it as a sign to start something new, and that manifested itself in the form of a food truck.
"In the beginning, it wasn't about the business, but about loving people," Wooly said. The business, So-Cal Tacos, became a vessel for him to share his story – nearly five years later, his operations have expanded to include a brick and mortar restaurant in Grapevine, Texas.
Wooly is in good company with his food truck business. Since So-Cal's opening, the food truck industry has grown by 12 percent, translating to a $1.2 billion industry. This growth isn't without its hiccups, however. When it comes to insuring these vehicles, finding the right coverage can get tricky.
"Food trucks are recent," said Jackie DeLaFuente, an underwriter for Insurors Indemnity. "You have to read your policy thoroughly to make sure you are fully covered."
For example, if a food truck is struck by another vehicle while it is parked, it would be considered property damage. However, if the same truck was in motion and got into a collision, it would be considered auto damage. Likewise, a worker injured while serving food would be covered under Workers' Comp, and a worker injured in a moving collision would be covered under the commercial auto policy. Wooley ran into some of these issues when he first tried to get his business off the ground.
"In the early days, there weren't a lot of people who even provided insurance for food trucks," Wooley said. "Finally, we were able to find a company that would insure us for what we needed, and then we found someone else who insured us for what their company couldn't."
As difficult as it was for Wooley to find the proper coverage under a single company, DeLaFuente says the client should seek to at least have their entire account under one agent.
"At the very best, maybe there is a carrier out there that can underwrite everything that the food truck needs, and so it is all on one policy," DeLaFuente said. "There may even be some carriers that can place the business through multiple policies, which is preferable to having multiple policies with different insurance carriers."
Wooley's early coverage issues got better. Once he had a brick and mortar location, his policy expanded along with his premium, and he was able to be covered under one policy.
"It became easier as our policy and needs got bigger," Wooley said, also citing the rise of the industry as a reason agencies are more comfortable with covering food trucks.
With 21 employees, a restaurant and a family, Wooley hasn't forgotten his roots in the food truck industry. Scouted from a pita concept in Houston, the truck is still in operation, and serves as reminder of the story he first set out to tell.
"We wanted to share our story. We wanted to lead and inspire and encourage people," Wooley said. "We wanted to give people hope."