As a self-employed trucker, you're well aware of the overhead costs of your work. There's more to it than just fuel, rig maintenance and over-the-road food costs. Trucking insurance can account for a significant portion of your operating costs. Commercial truck insurance requirements can, in fact, add several thousand dollars per year for each cab.
You're most likely already paying personal disability and health insurance premiums, but the policy types that apply strictly to your rig and your business are worthy of an equal amount of consideration.
A variety of factors can determine your policy rates, such as how long you've been driving and your CDL history. Having a clean driving record with no charges of preventable CDL accidents can, of course, help keep your premium payments low. While it's typical to want to keep your expenses down, keep in mind that a policy with inadequate coverage could leave you with a hefty personal liability if there's a major accident.
Commercial Truck Insurance Requirements
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is tasked with regulating the trucking industry to reduce crashes, injuries, and fatalities on American roadways. The agency requires that motor carriers have certain insurance documents on file before they will issue the authority to operate in the United States. Most of the requirements for liability insurance are consistent across the nation, but it is wise to check your state's regulations, as there may be additional coverage required.
Public liability insurance covers your responsibility to any motorists or pedestrians who sustain bodily injury or incur property damage if you are found to be at fault.The FMCSA minimum required coverages depend on the type of freight you haul:
|Type of Freight
|Non-hazardous freight moved in vehicles under 10,001 lbs.
|Non-hazardous freight in vehicles over 10,001 lbs.
|Oil moved by For-Hire & Private Carriers
|Other Hazardous Material moved by For-Hire & Private Carriers
Types of Trucking Insurance
Straight trucks, tractor trailers and other motor vehicles used for commercial deliveries are covered under a broad range of insurance policy types. Many drivers, especially those who are self-employed, purchase additional insurance coverage before taking on any major haul. As a semi-truck operator, four commercial trucking coverage types you'll need to consider are trucking liability and non-trucking liability , cargo, and physical damage insurance.
General Liability Insurance
Trucking general liability coverage is an essential part of your insurance protection plan. This policy addresses physical or bodily injury damages to another party that are caused by your truck or driver while operating it in a commercial capacity. It's basically on-the-job liability insurance that will pay for someone’s property repairs or medical costs if your rig was the cause of an accident. For instance, driver mishaps at truck stops, loading docks, or distribution centers would fall under this coverage.
Non-Trucking Liability or Bobtail Insurance
Similar to General Liability, policy holders may extend coverage to include any potential damages caused while the truck is not in service. Many drivers who own and operate their truck may spend a good deal of time on the road in their rig even when they're not hauling goods. If any harm or damage is done to another party while your truck is being used for personal reasons, non-trucking liability coverage will take care of it. NTL coverage pays for damages done by your rig to property while off-duty. It also covers a person's medical bills if they've been injured by your truck when it wasn't being used commercially.
Bobtail insurance protects a tractor operated without a trailer, during both work and non-work hours.
Even if your rig is fully covered, the goods and commodities you're hauling should also be protected in the event of an accident, theft or damage. Depending on your freight and its value, you may want to consider adding cargo coverage as a separate policy in addition to your basic truck insurance. You'll be able to specify if you want warehouse legal, contingent or terminal coverage.
Physical Damage Coverage
If there's a collision, there can also be some damage to your truck or trailer. The repair costs could be expensive. Instead of worrying about it, adding physical damage coverage to your semi-truck insurance policy ensures that your vehicle will be repaired or replaced without incurring distressing out-of-pocket costs. Physical damage coverage could also provide funds for repairing your truck from damages due to potholes, faulty infrastructure and weather conditions. Basically, you can cover things that are beyond your control.
In addition to these common coverages, other policies may be considered as a prudent means to limit your risk exposure:
- Medical Payments - coverage to pay medical bills for injured parties
- Uninsured/Underinsured Motorists - additional coverage for your property if someone who hits your truck does not have adequate liability insurance.
What is the Cost of Commerical Truck Insurance?
According to a 2022 study conducted by one major insuring company, the national average monthly cost of commercial truck insurance for commercial truck drivers ranged from $736 to $1,125. These calculations were based on new policies including both primarily liability and physical damage coverages and assume drivers have a clean driving record.
Other industry experts break down the cost of commercial truck insurance and provide a range by product. It is important to note, however, that many factors, such as driving and employment history, experience level, location, and age of equipment may all play a part in the underwriting decision. Therefore, it is essential to shop various agents before you purchase your coverage.
Some Tips for Purchasing Commercial Trucking Insurance
Shopping around for truck insurance could take time; do your homework before you make a commitment. There's no one-size-fits-all policy when it comes to trucks and tractor trailers. Each driver specializes in their own routes and cargo types, so you'll need to find insurance that covers your specific needs and routines. Different states also have different requirements, so make sure you know the laws before purchasing a policy.
Some insurance companies will advertise attractive low rates, but it's best to be cautious before making a purchase. Read the fine print to see if the provider is offering inexpensive premiums in exchange for unusually high deductibles. This could possibly put a trucker out of business if there's a serious accident. It's in your best interests to be sure you're balancing your premium payments and deductibles against your regular and expected income. Make sure the types of loads you're hauling are fully covered also.
In order to give yourself the best chance of finding the right trucking coverage, get about ten quotes from a range of insurance companies. Don't be shy about asking a pushy insurance sales rep as many questions as necessary to be sure you've learned all you need to know about the different policy types. It works to your advantage to be as fully informed as possible when selecting a plan that's the best match between your needs and your operating budget.
Whenever you can, ask other truckers about their policies and find out if they're happy with them. This could be a good starting point in narrowing things down to the trucking insurance plan that fits in with your hauling patterns. If another driver has the same routes and cargo types as you, the common ground could provide some valuable insights that will help you get what you need at the best possible premium rate. Take your time; shop around, read the policy carefully and ask questions — you'll be glad you did.
*The information contained in this article is for general informational purposes only. CDLjobs.com makes no representation or warranty, express or implied. You are encouraged to contact your own agents for coverage requirements applicable in your situation .