Get Commercial Truck Insurance Coverage to Match Your Risks
If you have an entrepreneurial spirit, becoming an independent owner operator in the trucking industry is a great way to take charge of your own earning potential. The freedom that comes with being your own boss may make this move worthwhile for you. Whether you choose to remain a fully independent carrier or lease your truck and services to another carrier, you can discover an exciting future.
Of course, owning your own rig comes at a significant expense, so having sufficient insurance to fully cover your investment is critical.
Truck Owner Operators Have High Earning Potential
- The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that owner operator trucking job opportunities will rise 9% between 2008 and 2018
- The average salary for trucking owner operators in 2011 was about $58,000
- The highest paying industry for truck owner operators is with the U.S. Postal Service
While it is clear that this is a lucrative field to be in, you also have to think about how to protect your assets if an accident or theft were to happen. This is why considering the purchase of specialized owner operator insurance is a great idea – you know your finances are secure when the unexpected occurs.
Is Commercial Truck Owner Operator Insurance Required?
Whether you own a tractor-trailer, a semi-truck, or a fleet of commercial trucks, as an independent operator you are required by federal law to carry a minimum of $750,000 in liability insurance. Because an accident in a tractor-trailer has the potential to create a large amount of damage, many financial advisors recommend purchasing as much as $5 million in liability coverage. Not having enough can lead to financial ruin following a major collision.
If you are leasing your truck out to another trucker, that driver is responsible for providing liability insurance coverage. However, if the lessee does not carry an adequate amount of insurance, you may want to purchase your own coverage independently to insure against the risk of excessive liability. To decide if this option is in your best interest, consult an insurance professional for advice.
Other Coverage Available to Owner Operator Truckers
In addition to the liability insurance required by law, you may be asked to consider some, or all, of the following optional coverage options. Understanding your options will help you choose the right coverage for your needs and concerns.
- Physical damage coverage: This coverage is mandated by lenders who have financed commercial truck purchases and is required for the life of the loan. You can expect to pay annual premiums totaling about 3 to 5% of the value of your rig if you have an excellent driving record; if you have a less than stellar record, the cost may be much higher. This insurance coverage will provide compensation for the depreciated value of your truck in the event of an accident.
- Gap insurance: This insurance is important to consider if you buy an expensive commercial truck and finance it. In the event that your truck is seriously damaged or totaled, it is possible the current depreciated value of your rig will be lower than the amount you still owe on it. If this happens, gap insurance will provide enough coverage to allow you to pay off your loan and avoid taking an expensive loss.
- Equipment coverage: You can add this coverage to the physical damage policy as well to cover additional equipment, such as chains, tarps and any electronic equipment added to your truck after purchase. This insurance can even provide compensation if you should lose a full tank of diesel fuel due to accident damage.
- Motor truck cargo insurance: The federal government requires you to carry a minimum of $5,000 in coverage for your cargo, but your customers and shippers will usually require you to carry far more. The amount of coverage you should have is largely dependent on the value of the load you are carrying.
- Bobtail insurance: Bobtail coverage insures a commercial tractor when no trailer is in tow. It provides coverage whether your vehicle is being driven for commercial or personal use. Bobtail insurance should not be confused with non-trucking liability insurance.
- Non-trucking liability insurance: This type of insurance is sometimes referred to as contingent liability insurance. It provides liability coverage when you are driving your rig for non-commercial reasons. It is designed to cover independent owner operators who are leasing their services and therefore have liability coverage through the company they are working for. This company-provided liability insurance is valid only while the vehicle is being used for work. Non-trucking liability covers you while driving to or from the job site or when driving for personal reasons.
- Occupational accident insurance: This coverage provides protection for drivers and their families by supplementing workers compensation benefits. It pays compensation for accidental death and dismemberment, medical expenses for accident-related injuries, and temporary and long-term disability coverage. For a higher premium, this insurance can be set up to include non-work related accidents as well.
- Non-Owned Trailer Coverage: If the trailer you are hitching to your rig is owned by another person or company, non-owned trailer insurance covers damages it may sustain while hitched to your truck.
For more information about the many owner operator insurance policy options, you can speak with a Trusted Choice representative who will advocate for your independent commercial trucking business insurance needs.
Is Owner Operator Insurance Expensive?
The price of your policy can vary greatly depending on your particular situation. Some factors that influence your rates include your age, the age and condition of your truck and equipment, the types of cargo you carry, the routes you drive, and of course the insurance company you choose. It is a good idea to compare at least two or three different insurance quotes when shopping for a policy, as the rates can vary considerably.
The following are some ranges in what you can expect to pay:
- Primary liability insurance can run from $5,000 to $1 million a year, depending on the amount of liability protection you choose
- Non-trucking liability insurance can cost from $450 to $1 million a year, again depending on how much liability coverage you are purchasing
- Physical damage insurance runs about $2,500
- Cargo insurance averages about $1,000
You can further lower your premiums by electing higher deductibles and by taking advantage of deals and discounts offered by insurance companies. Most companies, for example, will offer discount rates to their customers who combine multiple policies and who maintain a clean driving record. Be sure to ask about available discounts when you are evaluating quotes.
Comparison Shopping Can Give You an Advantage
Comparison shopping for owner operator commercial truck insurance is a smart idea, and can help you save big money in the end. Each insurance company will require you to submit several pieces of personal information before they can provide you with a quote, and you may receive phone calls from sales representatives, but this process can help you find the insurance you need.
Come prepared with questions to ask, and understand the details that your policy needs to have in order to protect you completely. For help with this, you may want to talk to:
- An independent insurance agent - who can help you weigh your options and quickly locate several quotes for coverage
- A lawyer - who can help you understand your liability risks and how they could affect your bottom line after an accident
- A financial planner - who can help you shape your business, set up the proper coverage for you and any other drivers, and measure your assets and potential costs for insurance purposes
When you find the right commercial truck owner operator policy, you can get peace of mind that your business can succeed no matter what comes your way.