What Is Commercial Truck Insurance & How Much Will It Cost You?
If you are the small business owner of a trucking company, make sure you and your employees are properly insured. Read our guide to commercial truck insurance here!
Every business has specific needs, and specific needs require specific types of business insurance.
For trucking businesses, businesses with trucks, or independent truck drivers, commercial truck insurance is a tailored policy that addresses trucking risks. No matter how many trucks you have on the road, this insurance will help protect you, your business, and your vehicles. If you’re an owner-operator of a truck or leasing through a motor carrier, you’ll want to find the perfect truck insurance. Arming yourself with knowledge is the first place to start.
In this post, we’ll cover everything you need to know about truck insurance, including who needs it, where to find it, and how much it’ll cost.
Table of Contents
- What Is Commercial Truck Insurance?
- What’s the Difference Between Commercial Truck Insurance VS Commercial Auto Insurance?
- How Much Is Commercial Truck Insurance?
- Commercial Truck Insurance Requirements
- What Other Types of Insurance Do You Need For a Trucking Business?
- Where To Buy Commercial Truck Insurance
- How To Get The Best Commercial Truck Insurance Policy
- Commercial Truck Insurance FAQs
What Is Commercial Truck Insurance?
Commercial truck insurance is a specific grouping of insurance auto policies developed to cover trucking needs. The trucking policies start with primary liability and build upon that foundation with various additional coverages. Primary liability truck insurance is often required as part of a trucking license — it protects people and property from damage caused by your truck.
If you’re a driver and want to drive on your own authority, then you will need primary liability insurance. If you’re an owner-operator of a trucking company, then you’ll have to expand your trucking insurance to include general liability as well.
Need insurance to drive? Primary liability is your goal. Need to get your trucks on the road? You’ll need general liability.
A primary insurance policy will only cover the damage to another vehicle or to a person in the event of an accident. At the very least, the public is protected. General liability, however, offers additional protections in the case of a lawsuit or a libel/slander/false advertising claim against your business. Most insurance experts would encourage you to invest in a general liability commercial trucking plan.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) requires that all trucks have at least $750,000 in insurance coverage. Additionally, the FMCSA might require certain trucking operations (for example, those that haul cars) to show proof of adequate general liability coverage.
According to Trusted Choice (a group of independent insurance agents), the average cost of a commercial truck accident that results in an injury is $148,000. One in three small businesses will fold because of uninsured costs related to an accident or lawsuit. Covering yourself with the right insurance is a business-saving tactic.
What Commercial Truck Insurance Covers
With a general liability commercial truck policy, you’d be covered in the following situations:
- Bodily Injury: If someone is hurt by your truck, this pays for medical bills and the costs of potential lawsuits that may arise. This also covers someone who might slip and fall on your property.
- Damaged Property/Damaged Commodities: If your truck damages someone’s property, this will cover the cost to fix and replace the property. Also, if you deliver commodities to the wrong address, general liability insurance will cover the cost and damages.
- Driver Accidents At Delivery Locations: Many variables fit under this particular category, but if your driver causes any damage to property at another site, your general liability will cover the damage.
- Libel, Slander, & False Advertising Claims: If you conduct any sort of advertising or represent your brand out on the road, general liability coverage also helps out in the event of a libel, slander, or false advertising lawsuit.
What Commercial Truck Insurance Doesn’t Cover
Commercial truck insurance policies don’t cover everything. Look for additional endorsements to cover these possible scenarios:
- Specific Vehicles That Aren’t Trucks: It should go without mention since “truck” is in the title, but this insurance is specific to certain types of trucks. The following vehicles are not covered under commercial truck insurance: cement trucks, limos, hearses, buses, passenger vans, and ice cream trucks.
- Driver Injuries: The basic insurance policies are about protecting other people (paying for damages and medical bills and safeguarding you in a lawsuit). If you’d like to protect your worker’s injuries, those claims would be part of a worker’s compensation insurance plan.
- Damage To Your Trucks: General liability covers the cost of damage to others, not yourself. If you want to insure your own trucks, you’ll need physical damage coverage. While it isn’t required by law to insure your own property, it could spare you from having to repair or replace your trucks with your own money.
- Lost Product Due To Broken Refrigeration: If a refrigerated truck (reefer) breaks down or the cooling component breaks down, you will need specific insurance to cover the replacement and the loss of cargo.
- Loss Of Cargo: The federal government may require you to carry a minimum of $5,000 in cargo coverage. Since truck drivers are often carrying cargo worth far more than that, you might want to invest in more coverage.
- Loss Of Income After An Accident: If your truck is in an accident and it takes some time to get your business back up and running, your insurance won’t cover the loss of income. You’d want to specifically look into business income insurance or business interruption insurance to cover those gaps.
What’s the Difference Between Commercial Truck Insurance VS Commercial Auto Insurance?
Trucking is different than driving around the city in a work van. Drivers often haul a large amount of merchandise or materials across state lines for long hours. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) — the governing body over trucking — requires that owners have certain insurance minimums before their trucks can even hit the road. Drivers must prove they have a minimum of primary truck insurance to be approved by the FMCSA. Leasing agreements for the trucks might also require proof of general liability truck insurance.
Why won’t a commercial auto policy cut it? Ultimately, the trucking world has greater day-to-day risks compared to cars/vans. For-hire truckers need truck insurance since they might either find themselves vastly underinsured under a commercial auto plan or simply fail to meet the legal requirements for getting behind the wheel.
How Much Is Commercial Truck Insurance?
Truck insurance costs will vary depending on what you need coverage for. Know in advance, however, that commercial truck policies aren’t cheap, and prices have gone up in recent years. An owner-operator looking for primary liability coverage for his/her employees is looking at an average of $9,000-$15,000 a year in premium charges, which is the cost paid to the insurance company before deductibles. However, some plans offering only primary liability can run as low as $25-$29 a month for independent for-hire drivers.
Adding endorsements will increase that premium. Some other factors that may affect your insurance costs are:
- Credit reports
- Driving record
- The age and condition of your equipment
- What you expect to haul — hauling vehicles, oil, and hazardous materials will make your rates go up
- State requirements
- How far your drivers are driving, etc.
Commercial Truck Insurance Requirements
A few things need to be in order before you can get commercial truck insurance. Let’s go over what you’ll need to have ready, one by one:
- The make, model, year, and VIN of the vehicle(s). Insurance providers need this information to identify your vehicles and calculate the cost of your policy. Trucks that are bigger, heavier, and more powerful can cause more damage in an accident, so that will be factored into what you pay.
- Driving records. As with your vehicles’ information, insurance providers require your driving records to assess whether insuring you is a financial risk. Clean records demonstrate that insurance providers can trust you or your drivers behind the wheel, which may lower your overall costs.
- Authority. If you’re looking to transport cargo independently or are aiming to lease to employees, you must have authority through the FMCSA. This means having valid and up-to-date Motor Carrier (MC) and Department of Transportation (DOT) numbers. You will have 90 days to acquire the appropriate insurance coverage once you start the application process.
- Commercial driver’s license (CDL). You will need a CDL to apply for commercial truck insurance if you plan on driving or leasing vehicles and cargo that have a gross vehicle weight of 26,001 lbs. or more.
What Other Types of Insurance Do You Need For a Trucking Business?
As stated before, primary liability truck insurance and general liability truck insurance are the basic requirements needed to drive and follow the rules set by the FMCSA. Let’s revisit those again and outline other possible truck insurance policies that are available through an insurance agent:
Where To Buy Commercial Truck Insurance
Due to the specificity of trucking regulations and safety requirements, finding an insurance agent and provider familiar with commercial trucking 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 (such as Nationwide) offer commercial truck insurance. According to Investopedia, the highest-rated commercial trucking agencies were Progressive (best overall), CoverWallet (best value), State Farm (best customer service), Sentry (best for single trucks), and The Hartford (best for fleets).
How To Get The Best Commercial Truck Insurance Policy
Protecting your trucking business or yourself as a for-hire trucker means insuring yourself properly. Whether you need primary truck insurance or need to add general liability, insurance doesn’t have to be an extraordinary expenditure — and adding it to your business costs could help you survive the financial burden of an accident or disaster.
An insurance expert will take the time to explain coverage options and walk you through types and choices. Primary is required, general liability might be required or suggested, and any other endorsements will strengthen your protection. As always, be sure to read through the terms of a new contract — the last thing you want after a disaster is to find out your insurance won’t reimburse you for what you thought was covered in a claim.
Think about your business and contemplate worst-case scenarios. (In 2017, Oregon had a truck accident where thousands of eels dumped out onto the highway, triggering the fish’s fear response which was to release mucus-like slime over everything in its path…so…that was fun.) From there, make a plan for your business today.