Commercial truck insurance is specialized designed to protect trucking companies and their assets. This includes their fleet of vehicles and the cargo they are transporting.
The nature and purpose of these policies explain why it’s businesses — rather than individual drivers — are almost always responsible for acquiring this form of coverage. However, that doesn’t mean trucking companies are the only ones who benefit from being familiar with it!
Current truckers, people exploring a potential career in trucking, those worried that they may be involved in a collision with a truck, and members of the general public all have something to learn. This guide explores some of the most essential aspects of commercial truck insurance.
- A Look at the Types of Coverage
Trucking coverage offers protection against a wide range of perils, and the specific products that fall under this heading include:
- Primary liability. This mandated form of insurance covers third-party bodily injury and property damage the trucking company may be held responsible for. It does not include injuries the driver sustains or damage done to the policyholder’s assets. Umbrella policies can add further coverage in this area.
- General liability. Unexpected things can happen even while a truck isn’t operational. This type of insurance covers those.
- Physical damage. These policies pertain to damage the insured trucks themselves may sustain. It includes collisions, theft, acts of nature, fire, and other physical damage.
- Cargo. This type of insurance protects the cargo being transported, including as a result of collisions, weather and climate events, fire, theft, and inadvertent damage. It usually includes the driver’s property.
- Trailer. This form of physical damage insurance relates to trailers owned by third parties.
- Bobtail. When a truck is driven without a trailer, bobtail coverage can safeguard it against financial damage.
- Environmental and hazardous materials. Companies transporting especially sensitive goods may require these additional insurance types.
The other kinds of insurance trucking companies may carry resemble the kinds of coverage any other driver generally has, or policies most companies must take out, more closely.
They include uninsured and under insured motorist insurance, which covers the victim of an accident in cases where the at-fault driver isn’t adequately insured, and workers’ compensation insurance. Workers’ comp protects truckers in the event that they are injured at work, regardless of the precise cause.
Meanwhile, occupational accident coverage can step in when workers’ comp coverage doesn’t apply. Independent contractors can still get injured, and they deserve some level of protection. Occupational accident insurance rises to the occasion.
You may also be interested to learn that fleet insurance, which covers a whole fleet of trucks under the same policy, is the go-to option for operators who own a large number of trucks. This type of coverage protects all the business’ eligible vehicles under a single policy.
- What Kinds of Vehicles Can Trucking Policies Cover?
You’d be surprised by the variety of commercial vehicles that can (and need to be) covered by these specialized insurance programs. Nearly any truck used to carry cargo qualifies, along with some used to transport passengers.
Let’s zoom in to take a closer look at the types of trucks we’re talking about:
- Tractor trailers (which may also called 18-wheelers or semi-trucks). They’re a mainstay in long-distance commercial trucking.
- Dump trucks used to take materials to construction sites or carry waste materials away, and other mobile equipment used in the construction business.
- Box trucks, usually seen in retail deliveries.
- Moving vans and trucks of all sizes.
- Tow trucks, used to transport vehicles.
- Flatbed trucks, which are typically employed to transport large and oddly-shaped objects that don’t fit into 18-wheelers.
- Tanker trucks and other heavy-duty vehicles used to transport hazardous materials.
Some people may be surprised to learn that buses, used to transport passengers privately or commercially, may also fall under trucking insurance. Despite the fact that they aren’t trucks in the commonly accepted sense of the word, buses are subject to many of the same risks as other heavy-duty vehicles.
- How Expensive Is Truck Insurance?
That varies from state to state, depends on the number of vehicles being insured, and can also depend on other factors. For example, while companies are responsible for arranging the appropriate types of coverage, drivers’ history and records may affect premiums.
As a rough estimate, insuring a single tractor trailer for one year can cost as much as $12,000, and $7,000 would be a solid ballpark average. It’s certainly more costly than insuring a personal car!
This is not because trucks are more likely than cars to be involved in accidents, statistically speaking. However, when trucking accidents do occur, they tend to lead to significantly more damage, injury, and loss of life. In addition, the cargo trucks transport tends to be rather valuable, explaining the cost of insurance.
- How Do Companies Get Truck Insurance?
The process of purchasing commercial insurance for a truck or fleet of trucks isn’t necessarily any different from the one involved in buying personal car insurance. Businesses, too, have to get quotes, shop around, go over their policy needs, ensure they are compliant with state and interstate regulations, and carefully review the details before they go ahead.
However, they will need to provide documentation detailing the fact that their drivers are qualified to drive the trucks in question and provide information about the nature of the cargo they transport. Insurance companies will review each trucker’s personal driving records to calculate premiums.
The insurers that offer these types of coverage are also more specialized, because normal car insurance companies don’t usually touch this area.
- A Final Word
Despite the diverse modes of transportation humanity has developed over the last few centuries — including cargo ships, trains, and airplanes — trucks remain the backbone of America’s supply chain. Nearly every product anyone buys, anywhere, has a truck to thank for reaching its final destination.
The trucking industry has unique insurance needs, and specialized insurers have emerged to meet them. Together, they protect the whole country. Trucking accidents may be rare, but when they do happen, insurance provides a way forward.