Are you going into business as a hot shot driver, small business owner-operator, or other type of independent trucker? If so, one thing you are going to need to operate your business is commercial trucking insurance.
In this guide, we are going to tell you all about the different types of insurance for independent truckers. We will also explore the factors that can impact trucking insurance costs. Finally, we will point you toward a few recommended insurance carriers for independent truckers. Let’s get started.
If you own one or more trucks that you will be driving for business, then you need trucking insurance. If you are leasing your trucks, you might not.
You can visit the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to view the legal requirements for trucking insurance.
These requirements stipulate that at a minimum, you need public liability insurance as follows:
- Non-hazardous freight in a truck weighing under 10,001 pounds: $300,000.
- Freight in a truck weighting 10,001 pounds or more: $750,000-$5,000,000.
If you are contracting with another company as an independent trucker, that company might have you purchase additional insurance for big rigs before agreeing to do business with you.
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What are the Different Types of Truck Insurance?
- Public Liability Insurance: If you injure another person or you damage their property in the course of your business as a trucker, public liability insurance will help to cover the costs.
- General Liability (GL) insurance: If you or one of your employees makes a mistake, and someone sues you, general liability insurance will cover you. This type of insurance also comes into play if someone gets injured while visiting your place of business.
- Physical Damage Insurance: If you get into an accident on the road, a physical damage insurance policy will help pay for the costs of damages to the vehicle you own. There are two types of physical damage insurance: collision and comprehensive. You are going to want to get both.
- Motor Truck Cargo Insurance: What if the cargo you are hauling is what ends up getting damaged or destroyed? To cover these items, you will need motor truck cargo insurance to help you reimburse your customers.
- Bobtail Insurance: You need this special type of insurance policy to cover you in situations where you are deadheading when an accident occurs.
- Trailer Interchange Insurance: Purchase this type of coverage if you plan to take part in trailer interchanges. Note that you require a written agreement for the trailer interchange arrangement in order for the coverage to apply.
- Non-Trucking Liability Insurance: Sometimes you may be on the road without cargo in your truck. At times like that, you need a non-trucking liability policy to cover you.
- Non-Owned Trailer Physical Damage Insurance: If you want to have coverage for trailer interchange situations where you do not have a written agreement, you can buy this type of policy.
- Uninsured Motorist Coverage: What will you do if a driver strikes you on the road who does not have insurance? You will not be able to get a payout from their carrier, since they do not have one. Uninsured motorist coverage will protect you in this scenario.
- Medical Payments Coverage: Suppose you are in an accident, and someone in one of your vehicles is injured. We are speaking here specifically about you, your drivers, or your passengers, not the drivers or passengers of other vehicles. To cover their medical costs, you might need medical payments coverage. Exceptions would be cases where personal health insurance or workers’ compensation are already providing all the coverage you need.
- Occupational Accident Insurance: One particularly important type of insurance specifically for trucking contractors is occupational accident insurance. It basically does for you what workers’ comp would if you were an employee of another company.
- Workers’ Comp: If your independent trucking business has employees, you will be legally required to buy workers’ compensation for them. If they get sick or injured during work, the workers’ comp will help cover the costs. It can also compensate for lost wages due to a workplace injury or illness.
- Contingent Liability Insurance: Classifying your workers correctly as independent contractors or employees can be more challenging than you might think. What happens if you accidentally classify an employee as a contractor, and then they get injured? They will not have the workers’ comp they are legally supposed to be able to fall back on. That means they might sue you. If they do, you will be glad you have contingent liability insurance to pay for the costs.
- Specialized Coverage: If you decide to specialize as an independent trucker, you may want to see if there are any types of specialized coverage that are applicable for your situation. For example, if you decide to haul livestock, there is a special type of policy just for that. You will also find specialized policies for tanker trucks, refrigerated trucks, and more.
- Umbrella Policies: You might find yourself wanting more coverage than the limits on some of your policies allow. If you cannot raise their limits, you can purchase additional coverage through an umbrella policy. This type of policy is also known as “excess liability coverage.”
Commercial Truck Insurance Average Cost
How much is truckers’ insurance? That depends on a variety of factors, which we will go over below. But average costs are usually anywhere from $2,000 to $9,000 for semi truck or box truck insurance.
What Factors Affect the Cost of Truck Insurance?
With such a wide range for commercial truck insurance, you are probably wondering how you can keep your costs as low as possible.
In order to save money on truck insurance, you need to have an understanding of all the different factors that can drive costs up or down. Let’s go over those now.
- Types of coverage. As you discovered above, there are quite a few different types of policies available for independent truckers. How many of these policies you get depends on the needs of your individual business as well as how important it is to you personally to mitigate risk. If you are purchasing many policies, you will spend more than you would if you only bought a couple. If you are on a tight budget and just launching your business, consider meeting the minimum legal requirements and then tacking on more policies as you get more financial ability to handle the extra costs.
- Amounts of coverage. After meeting the minimum legal requirements for truck insurance, you can consider purchasing higher amounts. Doing so can protect you in situations where you might incur larger costs, but it comes at a price in the form of higher insurance premiums.
- Deductible sizes. Your deductible is the amount of money you have to pay out of pocket before your insurance policies start paying out. If you want to minimize your deductible, you need to pay more for your insurance each month. To lower your monthly costs, see if you can raise your deductible. Just be aware that if you do this, you might find yourself in a more expensive situation if you experience an injury, accident or lawsuit.
- Locations where you operate. As an independent trucker, your area of operation might be very large or very small. You could be involved with interstate hauls, or you might just be making local deliveries within a single city. The risk involved with each of these is quite different, so insurance companies may charge higher or lower amounts depending on your area of operation.
- Operation size. Most independent truckers own just one truck or a relatively small fleet. If that is the case for you, it will keep your insurance costs down. But if you do have a larger number of vehicles and drivers to ensure, naturally, you will be paying more for truck insurance and workers’ comp.
- Your credit score. Truck drivers who have high credit scores may qualify for less expensive insurance than those with lower credit scores. Truckers with low scores may appear risky to insurance companies, whereas a high credit score engenders trust. So, if it is possible for you to raise your credit score before you apply for independent truck insurance, you should do so. Checking your credit report for errors is the best place to start.
- Your experience. If you have no prior experience either as a driver or as an owner-operator, you are a riskier customer. You are not yet familiar with all the potential hazards of your business and how to avoid them. So, your truck insurance might be more expensive than it would be for someone with more experience in this line of work. A few years from now when you do have more experience, you might qualify for more competitive premiums.
- Your driving history. Closely related to experience is your driving history. If you have a clean record, that is great—it might very well qualify you for affordable insurance. But if you have a record of driving violations or accidents, you are probably going to have to pay more for your truck insurance.
- Penalties. Truckers who have OOS violations on their records or MVR reports may receive higher insurance quotes.
- Discounts. Truck insurance companies may offer discounts for safe driving, bundling, establishing a long-term relationship with the company, or other things.
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What Makes a Good Truck Insurance Company for an Independent Trucker?
- The policies you need. Make a list of all the types of policies you are looking for, and then start calling around. Ask the companies you are considering if they offer everything you need. If you can find it all under one roof, that can keep things simple. But if you need to use more than one carrier, that is okay.
- Willing to work with a small business. There are some truck insurance companies that stipulate a certain minimum fleet size. If it is more than the number of trucks you have, you will have to go elsewhere. So, check into this early in your investigation process.
- Suited to your experience level and driving record. Some insurance companies are more open than others to dealing with inexperienced or high-risk drivers. If you are either, you will be best off if you find a company that won’t be turned off by your situation.
- Fast and easy claims. When things go wrong on the road, you do not want them to go wrong with the claims process too. To keep your business moving forward as smoothly as possible, pick a company that makes it a breeze to submit and follow up on your claims.
- Customer service. Speaking of keeping things easy for yourself, you will do well to choose an insurance company that excels in terms of support. Reaching them should be easy, and the agents should be knowledgeable, friendly, and dedicated to helping you get the solutions you need fast.
Top Truck Insurance Companies to Consider
Now you know all about insurance policies and costs for truckers as well as what to look for in a truck insurance carrier for a small business like yours. Here are a few companies you might want to think about contacting for quotes.
Progressive is among the biggest insurance carriers in the US, and has a strong focus on auto insurance. It is no surprise that they provide policies for independent truckers who operate semi-trucks, box trucks, tank trucks and other vehicles.
This company is a great choice if you want to get competitive discounts either by bundling policies or by sharing your ELD data. Signing up for autopay gives you a discount as well. Progressive doesn’t insure the largest fleet sizes, but this probably is not something you need to worry about as an independent contractor.
2. The Hartford
The Hartford has been in business for more than two centuries, and can cover you if you are driving a semi-truck, dry freight trailer, refrigerated trailer, or other type of vehicle. The company puts an emphasis on customization, which is great news for small business owners. They also are willing to deal with high-risk drivers.
That said, The Hartford does not want to work with companies that only operate one truck. So, they are only suitable if you have multiple vehicles.
Over 275,000 trucks around the world are insured by this company. Gallagher can hook you up not only with an owner-operator policy, but also third-party logistics policies.
Have any employees working under you? Consider Gallagher for workers’ comp, as this is one of their specialties.
4. Liberty Mutual
The next big name in the world of truck insurance is Liberty Mutual.
This is another carrier that offers great customization for policies. You will also appreciate their rapid claims process.
Get Competitive Quotes for Commercial Truck Insurance Now
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As an independent trucker, you need insurance both to operate legally and to protect your business.
If you are ready to find affordable truck insurance now, click any of the links in this post to visit our recommended truck insurance companies.