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 on-the-road food costs. Trucking insurance can account for a significant portion of your operating costs. Commercial truck insurance can, in fact, cost 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, a policy with inadequate coverage could leave you with a hefty personal liability if there's a major accident.
Types of Trucking Insurance
Straight trucks, tractor trailers and pickups 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 a major haul. As a semi-truck operator, four commercial trucking coverage types you'll need to consider before accepting most jobs are cargo, physical damage, trucking liability and non-trucking liability insurance.
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.
Trucking and Non-Trucking Liability Insurance
Trucking liability coverage will handle damages to another party that were caused by your truck while you were 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.
Many drivers who own and operate their own truck, however, also spend a good deal of their 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.
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.