Top 10 insurance questions that we get from owner operators leasing their trucks to a trucking company. (Part 1)

Feb 04, 2021 in Insurance 101
  1. What type of insurance do I need to be an owner operator? If you operate your semi-truck as an owner operator in interstate commers generally you will need the following insurance coverages: 
  • Auto Liability Insurance - This coverage is mandatory to operate a truck in the interstate commerce in the United States. A filing confirming the coverage is required by FMCSA. 
  • Cargo Insurance – This insurance for the load that you are caring. Shippers and brokers require cargo insurance to give you loads.  
  • Non-trucking liability insurance (sometimes in error referred to as bobtail insurance). - Non trucking liability insurance covers gaps in the Auto Liability insurance in the case a truck is used for personal use and not in the interest of the Motor Carrier. To get this insurance a long term lease agreement with an authorized Motor Carrier is needed. 
  • Physical Damage Insurance covers your truck regardless of fault. If your truck is in an accident this is the policy that will pay for damages to your tuck. 
  1. How much does the bobtail insurance physical damage insurance cost? 
  • Non – trucking Liability insurance costs around $40 per month 
  • Physical Damage coverage is percentage of the truck value and depends on your driving record, experience, insurance score and other factors that vary by company. A normal rate for physical damage for most trucks is $100 – 300 per month. 
  1. What can I do to lower my insurance costs? What determines the rates for insurance can be summarized in the following categories: 
  • Experience. The insurance companies only look at the relevant experience. They will look in the number of years using similar experience. The longer the experience the cheaper the price. It is very important to keep documentation to be able to verify the experience. Old driving record, pictures of old Driver licenses and medical cards are acceptable proofs of prior experience.  
  • Financial Responsibility. Many companies but not all use information obtained from a credit reporting agency to discount or overcharge. For some insurance companies this is the greatest discount that you can get. 
  • Driving record. Insurance companies will investigate 3 to five years of driving records. Of course, the cleaner the record, the cheaper the price for your truck’s insurance.  
  • Prior Coverage and Loss History. If you have had prior insurance and can provide documentation for clean insurance history, you can get big discounts.  
  • Safety score of the Motor Carrier.  Insurance companies will check the safety scores of the motor carrier that you are leased to. It is relevant for the pricing especially if it is an insurance program that is designed for owner operators specifically for that carrier. 
  1. I was not under dispatch should my non trucking liability pay. Non – trucking liability covers liability towards third parties when the truck is used for personal use. Wheater you were under dispatch is not relevant.  The non-trucking liability policy is only responsible in the case of personal use of the truck.  
  1. Is towing covered on my policy. You should read your policy carefully. Many policies exclude or have limits for towing charges. This coverage will vary widely by policy. In some policies towing coverage is entirely optional in some there is a preset limit – $5000 or $10000 per accident. There are companies that don’t have a preset limit of towing charges bur refer to “reasonable towing charges” which allows them to pay less than the actual towing charge. In any case the towing coverage should be carefully discussed with the agent to determine what is the right policy for the trucking company