The Complete Guide To Bobtail Insurance
If you run a commercial trucking business, there are many things to organize before you can actually get on the road. When your trucks are out on the Interstate with a trailer hauling goods, it’s a given that you’ll have specific insurance policies to cover accidents and mistakes. However, when your truck is driving around without its trailer, a practice otherwise known as bobtailing, you may not be covered for accidents that occur. Fortunately, there’s an insurance policy for that! Since driving around without a trailer is a specific risk, if you ever find yourself behind the wheel of a truck without a trailer, bobtail liability insurance is for you.
Read on to learn everything you need to know about bobtail insurance.
Table of Contents
What Is Bobtail Liability Insurance?
Bobtail liability insurance covers damage to a truck when it’s driving without a trailer. It is essentially gap insurance, a policy that fulfills a gap in coverage. Once a trucker is done unloading a haul and is bobtailing their way home, the trucking insurance provided by an employer may not cover accidents. This inexpensive add-on is an extra layer of security that provides truckers with insurance on the way home, between runs, or during off-hours.
What Bobtail Liability Insurance Covers
Liability insurance is the most basic form of insurance available. If you are at fault for an accident, liability insurance will cover the costs to fix vehicles or pay for medical bills. It’s important to understand that a bobtail liability plan would only cover your vehicle when your truck is without a trailer and driving home or between jobs. Here are the details of what bobtail insurance covers:
- Bodily Injury Coverage: If your truck injures someone, this policy will cover medical treatment and assistance.
- Third-Party Property Damage Coverage: If your trailer-less truck causes damage to a third-party, your policy will cover damage or replacement costs.
- Legal Costs & Attorney Fees: Need to defend yourself in a lawsuit? Liability covers the legal costs associated with a lawsuit brought to you regarding third-party bodily injury and third-party property damage.
What Bobtail Liability Insurance Doesn’t Cover
First and foremost, bobtail liability insurance doesn’t cover any accidents or damage that occur while your truck still has a trailer. Since bobtail insurance is specific for trailer-less vehicles on the road, this policy won’t help you in other scenarios. It is gap insurance to protect you during a sliver of time when other policies don’t offer coverage. Here are some of the things your bobtail insurance won’t cover:
- Driver Injuries: Injuries to an employee are covered under worker’s compensation insurance or under your own trucking insurance.
- Damage To Your Property: While damage to other people’s property is covered, you will need a commercial trucking policy to file a claim for assistance repairing your own damage after an accident or incident.
- Fire/Flood/Property Damage Sustained From A Natural Disaster: Some natural disasters are covered under commercial property insurance; however, flood and earthquake are often extra endorsements, so be sure to check the specifics of your policy.
- The Loss Of Income If You Can’t Use Your Truck: Business interruption insurance will help with lost income and the cost of relocation if a disaster or accident causes you to shut down your business (or if a leader property suffers damage) and you lose money.
Who Needs Bobtail Liability Insurance?
Bobtail liability insurance is designed specifically for drivers working in the commercial trucking industry who drive a truck without a trailer. You might need bobtail liability insurance if:
- You drive a truck under someone else’s authority without a trailer
- You want to protect yourself from lawsuits or expenses if an accident occurs while bobtailing
- Your motor carrier requires you to have a bobtail policy
Bobtail Liability Insurance VS Non-Trucking Liability Insurance
Do you still need bobtail liability insurance if you have non-trucking liability insurance? Yes!
Non-trucking liability is a specific endorsement used to cover a truck when it is being driven for non-business purposes. If you ever drive your truck (with or without a trailer) for personal use and are involved in an accident, you would need a non-trucking liability insurance policy to cover damages. When you are bobtailing, this is driving without a trailer, but you are still on the job — coming home from a drop-off, in-between runs, etc.
Unladen liability insurance is a newer policy offered for truckers that combines the coverage of both bobtail liability and non-trucking liability and is offered at insurance companies that specialize in commercial trucking.
Additional Types Of Liability Insurance
For all of the things your bobtail liability insurance doesn’t cover, there are other insurance policies that will help provide you with the coverage you need to fully protect your truck in the event of an accident. So, what options do you have?
Here are the main liability insurance policies available for businesses:
|Insurance Type||What It Does||Who It's For|
Often called "slip and fall" insurance, this insurance protects your business from the threat of a lawsuit.
Directors & Officers Liability
This insurance protects the company and its directors from frivolous lawsuits.
A business with figureheads that could attract legal attention
Protects your business from the costs of a data breach or hacking or other cyber crimes.
Businesses that gather information about clients and store it online
Protects your buildings and things inside your buildings from damage and accidents.
Businsses with a physical property site and products located in those physical locations
Protects a business from a lawsuit related specifically to the product it sells.
Any business that manufactures, sells, or distributes a product
Pays your workers salary and medical bills in the event of an on-the-job accident or injury.
All businesses with one or more employees
If your business has to stop because of property damage, this will cover the cost of moving your business to a new location.
Businesses that need a specific location to keep open
Talk with an insurance expert to see which policies are right for your business.
How Much Does Bobtail Liability Insurance Cost?
When you work in commercial trucking, your truck is the key asset in your business. An accident or damage can set you back financially. Insurance is the key to protecting you and your business. Bobtail liability is an endorsement that is added on to a general commercial trucking policy, and because it’s an add-on, it’s an affordable policy. The average going rate for bobtail liability is between $35-$60 per month for one million dollars of coverage. Monthly premiums increase if you need more than one million in coverage.
Where To Find Bobtail Liability Insurance
Due to the specificity of trucking regulations and safety requirements, finding an insurance agent and provider familiar with commercial trucking and bobtail insurance is an important part of your buying process. In general, there are four easy steps for buying insurance: Know what insurance you need, gather your business documents, comparison shop, and purchase!
Most major insurance agencies offer commercial truck insurance, but according to the Consumer Advocate, the highest rated commercial trucking agencies (based on coverage options, policy strength, pricing, financial rating, and customer experience) are as follows: Progressive, Esurance, and CoverWallet.
Other Insurance Policies Truckers Need
The commercial trucking industry is an integral part of our economy. Every day on the road, trucks move goods and equipment and encounter risks that could have long ripple-effects across many small businesses. Insurance is the way to protect against all those trucking worst-case-scenarios. Here are some other policies available to truckers:
Primary Liability Truck Insurance
This is needed insurance for anyone who wants to get behind the wheel of a truck with the trailer attached. It protects the people and things that are hurt if your truck causes an accident.
General Liability Truck Insurance
Will pay for the damage done to someone on your property or someone’s property while your truck is present. Also covers lawsuits involving libel, slander, and false advertising.
Physical Damage Coverage
This is the policy you will need to cover the damage done to your own truck and equipment in the event of an accident or a disaster. (This covers the blue book replacement costs.)
Motor Truck Cargo Insurance
If you suffer cargo damage through accident, disaster, or getting stranded in an ice storm or traffic jam, this insurance endorsement will protect your commodities.
Uninsured/Underinsurance Motorists Coverage
If you only have liability insurance and someone without insurance is involved in an accident with you, you may end up being left without a truck or a business if you need to pay those expenses out-of-pocket. The current data says that one in eight drivers on the road is uninsured. (And in some states, I’m looking at you Florida, that rate is over 25%.) This helps you if the person is either uninsured or under-insured for the accident.
Reefer Breakdown Coverage
A refrigerated truck might have its own equipment and mechanisms to worry about. This specific endorsement to a trucking insurance policy would cover the cost of lost cargo, refrigeration breakdown, or damage of product due to a collision. (Sometimes insurance policies have exclusions. The most commonly seen products excluded from coverage are: frozen foods, seafood, tobacco products.)
A driver may not think about bobtail insurance as a necessity, but accidents and mistakes can happen at any time, and those in commercial trucking should be prepared. If you ever drive a truck without a trailer and want to protect your vehicle, your job, and yourself, bobtail liability insurance is an important and necessary endorsement.