Being an owner-operator of a trucking business is a liberating experience. Due to the shortage of truck drivers, the pay is great and work is almost always available. Take a load when you want to and decline when you prefer to relax at home with your family. However, before you can reap the benefits of your trucking business, you’ll need to get commercial trucking insurance.
Many truck drivers make the mistake of passing on this responsibility to a broker or just selecting the cheapest option, but both of these can leave you with uncovered losses when you need it most. Because of this, it’s important to understand trucking insurance for yourself. Here are the basics you should know.
How Commercial Trucking Insurance Works
Trucking insurance provides coverage for your semi-truck when it is used for business purposes. However, there are also some coverage types that may extend to covering the truck even when it’s not currently used for work. If you are a business owner, you have the option of covering just your own truck or your entire fleet.
Depending on the coverage type, the insurance may cover the truck, the driver, passengers, the load and any property or person who suffers damage or injury. In the event of an accident, theft or another qualifying event, either you or the injured party can file a claim. Who is responsible for filing will depend on the unique conditions and who is at fault.
Types of Commercial Trucking Insurance Coverage
As is the case with personal auto insurance, truck driver insurance features many different types of coverage. Here are the most common ones you will come across:
- General Liability Coverage: If you are injured while working on someone else’s premises or commit an error during the delivery of your load, this covers you.
- Medical Payments Insurance: The available coverages differ from state to state, but generally speaking, this pays for medical bills resulting from any injuries to the driver or passengers in the truck.
- Motor Truck Cargo Insurance: Anything can happen to your load during delivery. This helps to protect any damages or losses to your cargo.
- Non-Trucking Liability Coverage: If you are at fault for damages or injuries to others while the truck is not currently in transit for a job, this covers it.
- Physical Damage Coverage: If your truck is damaged in an accident, this commercial trucking insurance coverage pays for the repairs. Some policies that include this also provide coverage against theft.
- Primary Liability Insurance: If you are at fault in an accident, this covers damages to the person or property affected.
- Trailer Interchange Insurance: If you use a non-owned trailer under a trailer interchange agreement, this covers it.
- Trucking Umbrella Policy: Should you ever need more protection than the maximums provided under your current policy, this covers the excess.
- Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Insurance: Should you have an accident involving someone who has no insurance or inadequate insurance, this covers you.
- Workers’ Compensation: If you have hired employees to work with your business, this pays the workers if they are injured or disabled on the job.
What To Ask Your Broker
With so many options for coverage available, it’s no wonder that truck drivers often leave commercial trucking insurance decisions to the broker. However, to ensure you get the full coverage you need, here are a few questions you may want to go over with your broker:
- What are the limits associated with the different coverage types?
- Are you properly insured, or are you potentially underinsured?
- Is it worth raising the deductible to save some extra money?
- Are there any coverages you can get rid of to save money?
- How much will you pay for deductibles?
- How do you qualify for special discounts?
The Cost of Commercial Trucking Insurance
The cost ranges from $8,000 to $14,000 for an owner-operator. However, this is provided there is no incident. If an accident or other qualifying event occurs, then how much more you pay will depend on your deductibles. Insurance coverages with higher deductibles will have cheaper premiums. However, you may feel the brunt of that decision when you need the insurance most.
This is because the deductible is how much you need to pay before the insurance kicks in. So, for instance, if you rack up $4,000 dollars in damages and have only a $500 deductible, all you need to pay is $500, and the insurance company will pick up the tab for $3,500. If the deductible is instead $1,000, your premium may be lower, but what happens if you don’t have $1,000 at the ready in the event of an emergency?
Choose Commercial Trucking Insurance Experts
Before you settle for just any trucking insurance company, you should check its reputation. Does it have great ratings? How well does it know the trucking business? Make sure you do your research and you should make the right choice.