Owner Operator Insurance

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With about 350,000 Owner Operators in the U.S. there are plenty of unique insurance scenarios, and the insurance requirements if you’re operating under your own authority are different than if you are operating under a permanent lease to a motor carrier. It’s important to understand which policies are needed to protect your assets and livelihood and which coverages may be provided by a motor carrier. Some motor carriers offer insurance packages to owner operators, but there are frequently gaps in coverage that can put your business or personal assets at risk. In many cases, you can get a better price and benefit from more complete coverage by seeking your own coverage solution.

When Do I Need Owner Operator Insurance?

There are several types of coverage you can choose, ranging from liability coverage, which pays for damage or injuries due to a truck accident, to coverage to protect your truck itself. Some coverages are required by law, while others may be required by contracts and some, while optional, protect your business so you can keep on trucking.

Primary liability coverage is required in all states. If you are operating under a permanent lease, your carrier often covers primary liability coverage under their policy. However, if you are operating the truck outside of dispatch, you may need additional coverage to protect you against liability due to accidents that can occur when you don’t have a trailer or are pulling an empty trailer.

What’s Covered by Owner Operator Insurance?

Depending on whether you operate under your own authority or operate under a permanent lease, you’ll have different coverages available to consider.

For leased owner operators, which are more common, you’ll want to consider the following coverages:

Operating Under Carrier Authority

  • Non-trucking Liability: When you are operating the truck without economic benefit to yourself as an owner operator or to the carrier, Non-trucking Liability Insurance provides coverage.
  • Bobtail Liability: Trucks operating without a trailer attached can be covered for liability with Bobtail Liability coverage.
  • Unladen Liability: If you’re traveling with an empty trailer, or without a trailer, Unladen Liability coverage protects against accident-related liability.
  • Physical Damage: Damage to the truck due to an accident or due to several other risks, such as fire or vandalism, can be covered with Physical Damage coverage.
  • Passenger Accident: Passengers who are not employees or co-drivers can be covered with Passenger Accident coverage, which provides medical expense coverage for injuries due to accidents.

Commonly, the carrier provides coverage for Primary Liability and for the cargo when you are carrying a load and you are operating under a carrier lease.

Operating Under Owner Operator Authority

If you’re operating under your own authority, you are responsible for liability coverage and some other coverages can round out your insurance package to better protect your investment and financial exposure.

  • Primary Liability: The Federal Motor Carriers Safety Administration requires $750,000 in Primary Liability Coverage if you are operating under your own authority. Most brokers or shippers require that you have $1 million in Primary Liability Coverage to cover losses due to injuries to others or damage to the property of others.
  • General Liability: As a business owner, General Liability Insurance is a foundational coverage to protect your business from non-auto related liability, including bodily injury, property damage, advertising injury, and personal injury due to slander or libel.
  • Motor Truck Cargo: In many cases when operating under your own authority, you are responsible for the safe delivery of the cargo. Motor Truck Cargo coverage protects against losses due to cargo damage or loss.
  • Physical Damage: Your truck is your livelihood. Physical Damage coverage works in a similar way to collision and comprehensive coverage for passenger vehicles. If your truck is damaged or even destroyed, Physical Damage coverage can pay to get your truck repaired or pay toward its replacement.
  • Passenger Accident: Passengers who aren’t co-drivers or employees can be covered for accidental death or dismemberment and accidental medical expenses due to an accident.

Additionally, some optional coverages may be available as riders to your Physical Damage coverage or other coverages, such as Personal Property Coverage for items not covered by a home insurance policy, Breakdown Coverage, or Gap Insurance, which can cover the difference if you owe more on the truck than your insurance covers — a situation more common than many may realize.

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How Much Does Owner Operator Insurance Cost?

It can be difficult to approximate the cost of any type of insurance because there are so many variables, including the types of coverage purchased, the dollar-amount of coverage purchased, and the unique risks for each policy. Getting a quote is easy, however. CoverWallet’s trusted agents are experts in Owner Operator Insurance and can help you understand which coverages you’ll need to protect your trucking business and meet mandatory requirements.

Other Types of Coverage to Consider

Depending on where you operate and which coverages you have through other sources, you may need or want some additional policies. Often, your coverages can be bundled into a package that can save you money because you are combining all or most coverages with one insurer.

Workers’ Compensation Coverage: In some states, you may be required by law to carry Workers’ Compensation coverage. Even when not required by law, Workers’ Compensation coverage is often required by contracts with carriers in lease agreements.

Business Insurance

Running a business is challenging enough without having to worry about lawsuits, employee injuries or property damage. Having the right insurance gives you the peace of mind to focus on what matters - running your business.

The coverage you need depends on the type of business you run. A restaurant owner needs to be covered against customers possibly getting food poisoning while an accountant needs to be covered against calculation errors. CoverWallet's intelligent assessment system will identify the insurance you need based on your specific business, get you a policy that fits your budget, and do it all in less time than you think.

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