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What Is Commercial Truck Insurance and Who Needs It?

Trucking businesses and owner-operators need commercial truck insurance in almost all cases. For one thing, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) mandates minimum insurance requirements for all commercial truck operators in the United States.

Plus, individual states have mandatory insurance minimums that apply to commercial trucks operating in their jurisdictions. Also, shippers often have specific minimum insurance requirements as a condition of hiring trucking companies.

Legal requirements aside, commercial trucking insurance policies help trucking companies protect their businesses from financial losses that could cripple them. They do the same for owner-operators, who could lose their livelihood in the event of a truck accident.

What Insurance Do Commercial Truck Drivers Need?

Trailer Interchange Insurance

Trailer Interchange Insurance, offered under the truckers' or motor carrier's insurance form, addresses the insured's legal responsibility for harm to other people's trailers.

Workers Compensation

Workers Compensation covers your employees' medical costs and lost wages while recovering from a work-related injury or illness. The employee gives up the right to sue your company in return for receiving cash and benefits from Workers Compensation. In some states it’s mandatory for businesses!

Bobtail Insurance

Bobtail insurance covers you when operating your trailer vehicle that isn't fitted with a trailer. Bobtail insurance applies if you're involved in an accident that causes property damage or bodily harm. It pays for legal fees, medical bills and settlement costs.

Hired & Non-Owned Auto

Hired and Non-Owned Auto Insurance protects your small business that hires vehicles or allows employees to borrow company vehicles for business purposes. You're covered for claims of personal injury and property damage if any of your vehicles is involved in an accident.

General Liability

General Liability Insurance protects your small business against claims of third-party bodily injury and property damage, reputational harm and advertising injury. It covers medical bills, repair costs & legal fees.

Cargo Insurance

Trucking owner-operators and other motor carriers can purchase Motor Truck Cargo Coverage, a sort of inland marine insurance. Cargo Insurance protects for-hire drivers against loss or damage to the cargo they transport on behalf of others.

Commercial Auto

Commercial Auto Insurance covers your cars, trucks, and vans used in your business. It covers the costs from vehicle damage in collisions, theft, vandalism and weather damage. It also covers medical expenses for to injured parties.

Non-Trucking Liability

Non-Trucking Liability Insurance covers you against incidents that occur when using your business truck for personal use, like going to the shops or taking your kid to school. Since you are not driving for business purposes, you won't be covered unless you have Non-Trucking Liability Insurance.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What Are Commercial Truck Insurance Requirements?

Federal regulations dictate the bare minimum insurance that commercial trucks must carry. In all cases, commercial trucks must carry public liability insurance, which pays for any damage or losses a truck causes to third parties.

The FMCSA monitors compliance with those regulations and won't issue a motor carrier number to any truck operator that doesn't comply. The specific commercial truck insurance requirements that apply will vary based on the type of cargo a truck carries as well as whether it travels between states.

What kind of insurance do I need for a trucking company?

The kind of truckers insurance you need can depend on the size of your trucking company, how many employees you have, where your trucks are parked after business hours and more. Some common types of truckers insurance include: Non-Trucking liability, bobtail liability, physical damage, general liability, cargo insurance, and primary liability which is required for truckers to have in all fifty states and will cover costs associated with individuals injured in accidents you cause on the road. You can select one or all of these insurances or even seek other types of truckers insurance depending on your company’s needs.

What Are the Factors That Determine My Premiums for Commercial Truck Insurance?

There are a variety of factors that determine the premiums for a commercial truck insurance policy. Some of the most relevant ones are:

  • The driving record of the driver operating the truck that the policy covers.
  • The monetary value of the truck itself at the time of the policy's issuance.
  • The specific places the truck operates for the majority of the time.
  • The average route lengths the truck routinely operates on.
  • The value of the load the truck typically carries for the majority of its operating time.
  • The presence or absence of a commercial general liability insurance policy that already covers the truck.
  • The assessed risk to the truck while it's not on the road, including the potential for vandalism, theft, and other non-operational risks
  • Whether the owner-operator or trucking company has multiple policies with the insurance carrier.

How much does it cost to insure a truck?

The cost of truckers insurance depends on a variety of factors. It is important to note that while most insurance providers do not offer truckers insurance, those that do may need to review your driving record, truck condition and age, types of freight transported, experience and previous claims history. These factors can help determine the cost of your coverage. Truckers insurance is generally quite expensive and can also fluctuate depending on how many trucks you own. For example, if you own one truck, on average you may pay $8,000 a year while someone with two trucks may pay more.

What does Non-Trucking Insurance mean?

Non-trucking insurance also known as bobtail liability is a type of liability coverage for when you use your commercial vehicle for personal use. ​Non-trucking insurance provides coverage for property damage or bodily injury that may occur to a third party. Additionally, non-trucking insurance covers expenses that may arise from accidents when you are on the road but not on the clock, meaning during your personal time. However, non-trucking insurance doesn't provide liability coverage for business use or when hauling any type of equipment from your truck.

How Can I Lower My Commercial Truck Insurance Cost?

Many of the factors that influence the cost of commercial truck insurance aren't set in stone. There are steps you can take before and after you purchase a policy to keep your costs low. They include:

  • Choose low-risk truck models: Some trucks aren't as risky as others, and operating one could lower your insurance costs.

  • Hire drivers with plenty of experience: Experienced drivers aren't as likely to get into accidents.

  • Hire drivers with clean driving records: Drivers with no accidents on their driving records cost less to insure.

  • Use new trucks only: New trucks have better safety equipment and break down less often than older ones.

  • Maintain excellent credit: A great credit rating will help you get a cheaper insurance quote.

  • Choose safer routes: The less risk your truck poses on the road, the cheaper it is to insure.

Can I Get Commercial Truck Insurance if I Am a New Truck Driver?

Yes, it's possible to get commercial truck insurance as a new truck driver. However, that doesn't mean it'll be easy or inexpensive to do so. The reason for that is the fact that many insurers simply won't offer policies to drivers with less than two years of experience behind the wheel of a truck. And those that will often charge significantly more than they do for experienced drivers.

This is a reflection of the added risk the insurer takes in covering a new driver. With no driving record to examine, insurers must protect themselves from the risk of losses, too. The good news, though, is that new drivers can often reduce their trucking insurance costs soon after they get on the road and demonstrate their driving skills.

How Do I Choose a Commercial Truck Insurance Policy?

To begin with, you must make sure that your truck satisfies any mandatory minimum insurance coverage requirements. Then, you should determine how much additional financial risk you can afford to bear. It's a good idea to extend your policy to cover any risks you don't feel comfortable with. For example, if you typically carry high-value cargo, you probably want a policy that protects you against cargo losses.

If you're not exactly sure which types of coverage you need, it's a good idea to discuss your situation with a qualified commercial truck insurance specialist. They can help you to protect your truck, your business, and your finances. They can even help you get the best and cheapest insurance quote for your specific situation. Call a CoverWallet agent today at (646) 844-9933 to discuss your options and find a policy for your needs.

Where can I find my DOT number?

You can easily retrieve your DOT number, or submit an application for a new one by visiting the FMCSA site here

If you are requesting a new DOT number ensure to have the following documents with you:

  • Employer Identification Number (EIN) or Social Security Number (SSN)
  • Dun and Bradstreet Number (if available)
  • Company Officers with Titles

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