Both owner-operators and company drivers are required to have commercial trucking insurance in every state. Though minimum coverage requirements can vary, large trucks always need a higher level of liability insurance coverage than smaller passenger vehicles. When semi-trucks are involved in accidents, the weight disparity between these two vehicle classes is much more likely to cause significant injuries and property damage.
Insurance Requirements for Interstate Travel
Long-haul truckers almost always need to cross multiple state lines to get their cargo from point A to point B. If you plan on crossing state lines on a job, your insurance policy will need to adhere to federal as well as state requirements. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has published regulatory guidance that requires that drivers obtain public liability insurance that covers both injuries and property damage in order to obtain their Operating Authority MC numbers.
The level of coverage drivers need depends on what type of freight they’re hauling. At a minimum, trucking companies need policies that cover:
- $300,000 for vehicles under 10,000 pounds hauling non-hazardous freight
- Between $750,000 and $5,000,000 for vehicles over 10,000 pounds
- Additional cargo insurance coverage for household goods
- Additional Types of Truck Insurance Coverage
While general or public liability insurance is mandated by the FMCSA for all vehicles traveling across state lines, there are also plenty of optional coverage options and policy ad-ons. They include:
- Trucking liability policies
- Non-trucking liability policies
- Bobtail insurance
- Collision coverage
- Comprehensive coverage
- Motor truck cargo insurance
- Workers’ compensation insurance
- Hazmat truck policies
- Livestock cargo coverage
- Trucking umbrella insurance
The types of insurance any particular trucking business or owner-operator will need varies based on what types of cargo they haul. The best way to figure out coverage options is to contact an insurance agent that specializes in commercial trucking insurance.
How Does Truck Insurance Help Accident Victims?
Some types of truck insurance are designed to protect the company against financial losses, while others are intended to provide compensation to accident victims. When a truck driver is determined to be liable for an accident, his or her insurance company should pay for the victim’s medical care, lost wages, and other damages. It’s a trucker’s liability insurance that covers these damages, but only up to the maximum amount covered by the policy.
The Limits of Truck Insurance Coverage
Although all states require trucking companies and independent drivers to carry insurance, their minimum coverage requirements vary. In Georgia, for example, minimum liability insurance requirements mean insurance companies that haul non-hazardous freight must pay out just $100,000 per person or $300,000 per accident, which doesn’t always cover 100% of an accident victim’s damages.
The best thing for an accident victim to do if a truck driver’s insurance policy limit is too low to cover damages is to consult an experienced truck accident lawyer who can determine the next steps to obtain an appropriate settlement. There may be other policies that could be drawn from to pay out the balance of the claim.
Don’t Skimp on Liability Insurance
Drivers and fleet managers should remember that, while both individual states and the federal government impose minimum coverage limits, it’s often better to take out more comprehensive policies. At the very least, it makes sense to raise the limits on liability policies to protect the company’s financial situation and reputation in the event of a serious crash.