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Bobtail Insurance: Ultimate Guide

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What is Bobtail Insurance?

What Is Bobtailing? Driving a semi-truck or 18-wheeler without the trailer hitched is known as "bobtailing." When you bobtail, you need bobtail insurance to protect you because the trucking authority's insurance does not cover your travel. Bobtailing might happen while you're:

• Picking up a load

• Picking up one cargo and dropping off another

• Returning from a drop-off

Why Bobtail Insurance? Bobtail insurance covers risks associated with operating trailer vehicles that aren't fitted with a trailer. Example: you're involved in an accident that causes property damage or bodily harm. Bobtail insurance pays for costs associated with liability including legal fees, medical bills for injury, and settlement expenses.

What's covered under bobtail insurance?

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FAQs: Bobtail Insurance

What is the difference between Bobtail Insurance and Non-Trucking Liability?

Bobtail Insurance

Is only applicable when you are driving a truck under someone else’s trucking authority without the trailer attached on a vehicle. For example, when you drop goods on Point A then drive to Point B without a trailer, Bobtail Insurance provides the needed coverage between this gap should something happen during your travel.

Non-trucking Liability Insurance

Offers protection when you use your vehicle for non-business related purposes. If you use your truck for personal reasons other than commercial driving, like picking up your kids, going to the laundry shop, grocery shopping, etc., this policy will protect you from liabilities incurred during non-business trips.

Is bobtail insurance expensive?

Bobtail insurance costs around $30 per month or $360 per year on average for a coverage maximum of $1 million dollars. Of course, the cost of bobtail truck insurance varies from one company to the next, so keep that in mind. Get a quote to find out how much it will cost for your small business.

Why Is Bobtailing Considered to Be Riskier Than Driving With a Trailer?

Bobtailing (driving a truck not loaded with a trailer) is believed to be more dangerous than driving a loaded truck. That’s because bobtails can be more difficult to brake, steer, or control around curves without the weight of a trailer.

In 2020, 2,534 accidents — more than a third of all trailer truck crashes — involved bobtail trucks, with 248 fatalities, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). This data shows that bobtailing can be more dangerous than driving a loaded vehicle.

What are the major risks of bobtailing and how can I prevent them?

Less break control: Without a trailer attached, you have less control over the truck's brakes, and you can't use the engine retarders.

Wide truck clearance: Your truck clearance — the minimum distance between the base of a truck's tire and the axle — changes, too. The truck clearance becomes higher because once you drop off the load, nothing weighs down your truck. This change makes it easier to flip over the truck in an accident.

Excessive hand brake pressure: When bobtailing, you have to drive differently in inclement weather. Use lighter pressure on the hand brakes when driving in slippery conditions. Otherwise, your truck could brake wrong and roll over or skid onto the shoulder or further — right off of the road.

What will happen if I don't carry bobtail insurance?

If you do not have an active bobtail insurance policy covering you at the time of the accident, you pay out of pocket for the settlement, the injured parties' medical expenses, legal fees, and court costs.

According to the Healthcare Cost & Utilization Project of the U.S. government, the average hospital stay costs $11,700. Why risk paying out of pocket when you can insure yourself with bobtail insurance?

NOTE: Your carrier company's insurance will not cover your semi-trailer truck for any harm or damage caused when bobtailing since you are not on dispatch. That’s why you will require bobtail liability insurance.

What is the difference between Bobtail Insurance and Non-Trucking Liability Insurance?

  1. Bobtail Insurance: This is only applicable when you are driving a truck under someone else’s trucking authority without the trailer attached to a vehicle.

For example, when you drop goods off at Point A, then drive to Point B without a trailer, bobtail insurance provides the needed coverage should something happen during this portion of your travel.
  1. Non-Trucking Liability Insurance: This offers protection when you use your vehicle for non-business-related purposes.

For example, if you use your truck for personal reasons, like picking up your kids, going to the laundry, grocery shopping, etc., this policy will protect you from liability incurred during non-business trips. Bobtailing occurs when you drive on business though, so your non-trucking coverage does not apply.

Who Needs Bobtail Insurance?

Who must carry this gap-closing policy to protect their financial future? You need bobtail insurance if you meet any of the following conditions:

  • You drive an 18-wheeler truck under a carrier company without a trailer at any time.
  • You want to protect yourself from lawsuits or high out-of-pocket expenses if an accident occurs.
  • Your insurance carrier obligates you to have bobtail insurance cover.

What Is the Cost of Bobtail Insurance?

Bobtail insurance costs an average of $30 a month or $360 a year for a $1 million dollar policy. That's an average that represents many companies, so don't expect that exact cost from your insurance company.

  • Many factors influence your premium fore Bobtail truck insurance, including:
  • Your driving record
  • How long you've driven professionally
  • Your credit score, and more.

Bobtail Coverage: What Are the Limits?

Policy limits refer to the greatest sum that can be awarded in a given claim or policy period according to the coverage spelled out in the insurance policy. This maximum sum will include medical expenses, costs to replace, and costs to repair the damage.

A typical non-trucking policy has:

  • $1 million in combined single limits
  • $50,000 in uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage per person
  • $100,000 in uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage per accident

Although non-trucking policies and bobtail insurance don't cover the same thing, they use nearly the same policy limits.

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