In 2016, large truck accidents claimed 3,986 lives. About 66 percent of these fatalities were occupants of passenger vehicles. As a truck operator, the liability for these accidents may fall entirely on your shoulders.
The only way to protect your business is by owning commercial truck insurance.
Do you own an owner operator insurance policy? If so, does it meet the regulatory commercial truck insurance requirements?
Not sure? We’ve got you covered.
We’ll tell you how to meet the minimum requirements and your insurance coverage options. Read on for your must-know guide to get the right truck insurance coverage today.
Commercial Truck Insurance: What to Look for in Your Coverage
It doesn’t matter if you’re a veteran or newbie in the trucking industry, trucking insurance is always a headache for any operator. The first step to get the right coverage is learning the regulatory minimum requirements.
Many operators follow the recommendations from their insurance agent. Even though your agent is an expert in the field, it’s important to make sure you have the right coverage. Your insurance will be your safety net during and after an accident.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) establishes the minimum trucking insurance requirements. These specifications vary depending on the weight, commodity, and your transport business.
The FMCSA requires primary liability coverage when you’re a truck owner-operator or operate a trucking business. This coverage protects the public in accidents where the truck driver is at fault.
If your truck is under a lease, your motor carrier will demand secondary liability insurance. This coverage will only protect you during the lease term. Keep in mind that the shippers and brokers you work with may demand higher limits on your policy.
The FMCSA assigns the requirements according to the following categories.
Carriers of Non-Hazardous Cargo
The agency requires a coverage of at least $750,000 for trucks that weight more than 10,001 pounds. You must meet this rule if you will carry harmless property between countries or states.
Carriers of Hazardous Materials
You must meet these requirements if you will transport cargo such as explosives, gases, toxic substances, flammable liquids or solids, among other hazardous materials. These coverage limits apply to carriers of all materials the DoT deems hazardous.
The FMCSA demands insurance coverage of at least $5 million if you transport these materials. These coverage requirements apply to all weight classes. This applies to transport between countries, intrastate, and interstate.
The agency requires for-hire or private trucks that weight 10,001 pounds or more that carry miscellaneous hazardous materials a higher coverage limit. The minimum coverage limit for these operators is $1 million due to the risk of these materials.
Motor Carriers of Passengers
Cargo carriers aren’t the only required minimum coverage by the FMCSA. This agency also requires motor carriers that transport passengers to carry a minimum liability coverage. This rule applies to interstate and foreign for-hire passenger carriers.
If your commercial vehicle transports 16 or more passengers, you must hold a truck insurance coverage for a minimum of $5 million. The minimum coverage rule for passenger motor carriers of 15 or fewer people is $1.5 million.
These coverage limit requirements apply for passenger transport between states and countries.
Exemptions and Other Requirements
These FMCSA requirements don’t apply to taxis that transport less than seven passengers. Also, school buses and vehicles with less than 16 passengers on a daily round trip are exempt.
The agency requires you keep proof of insurance at your main place of business and vehicle at all times. If you transport cargo between countries without proof of insurance, the federal government won’t allow you to reenter the United States. Also, state and federal authorities may fine and take away your commercial driver license.
Should You Consider Additional Coverage?
Commercial trucking insurance that meets the minimum requirements is the rule of thumb for many operators. Yet, you should consider getting additional coverage tailored to your business needs. Also, most shippers and brokers demand a primary liability coverage of at least $1 million.
Besides primary coverage, you should consider getting extra coverage to protect your business. Cargo insurance can protect you from any losses or damages to the property you transport. Most of the time, motor carriers offer this coverage to their leased operators.
If you run your own trucking business, you should consider getting this coverage for your operators as well. Physical damage coverage can protect your truck from certain losses. Some carriers cover flood, earthquakes, theft, fire, among other unforeseen events.
This type of insurance covers repair or replacement of these losses. Before getting this coverage, you should ask what type of events your carrier covers.
You should look into other insurance coverages tailored to your business such as bobtail insurance. This type of coverage protects you from any injuries and property damages when a trailer is detached from your truck. Bobtail insurance covers damages that occur during and between jobs.
An example is when you drop off a cargo and suffer an accident on your way to your next job. Your bobtail insurance coverage will repair any damages or injuries from this accident. Some states may demand some of this extra insurance coverage to operate your truck.
Can You Find the Right Trucking Insurance Coverage?
Yes, you can find the best commercial truck insurance policy. It will come down to your research and trucking insurance providers. Before contacting them, it’s important to understand and narrow down the type of coverage you want.
Are you considering buying additional insurance coverage? Do you need secondary coverage? These are some of the questions you should keep in mind when shopping for your insurance policy.
If you’re unsure, your insurance agent can provide insight into the insurance requirements in your state. It’s recommended you request quotes at several insurance providers. You should examine their offers and choose your best option.
Does it meet your insurance needs? You shouldn’t choose a coverage because it’s cheaper. Your insurance policy must provide the best protection while staying within your budget.
Are you shopping for trucking insurance coverage? We can help. Fill out this form to get your quote today!