Semi-trucks have revolutionized the transportation industry. These large vehicles make it possible for businesses to quickly and cheaply transport goods within the U.S. Unfortunately, driving a freightliner can be risky, not only to the drivers or owner/operators, but also to other drivers of passenger cars. In 2009, there were 3,179 fatal accidents involving large trucks - including semi-trucks and buses. This lead to 529 deaths and damage to 3,436 vehicles. There are serious liability risks and costs involved in tractor-trailer accidents closely linked to their size.
Freightliners provide a necessary service to thousands of businesses across the United States, and owners of these large trucks have great earning potential. Of course, operating large commercial trucks comes with risks, and proper truck insurance coverage is critical to protect your investment and cover costs for injuries or damage if you, or drivers you hire, are involved in an accident.
- There are an estimated 15.5 million trucks in operation in the United States, of which approximately 2 million are tractor trailers
- American truckers log more than 400 billion miles every year
- Only 16% of accidents involving commercial trucks are the fault of the truck-driver
- On average, one person is injured or killed in a commercial truck related accident every 16 minutes
- The 5 states with the highest number of truck accidents are California, Texas, Florida, Georgia and Pennsylvania
What Is Big Rig Truck Insurance?
Accidents involving big-rigs can be very destructive and lead to costly property damage and personal injury lawsuits. Trucking insurance can provide a financial safety-net in the unfortunate event that your rig is involved in a collision.
Owners of tractor trailers have several coverage requirements and need specialized insurance. There are basic policies that start with the commercial truck liability coverage you are required to carry by law, and you will have the option to add additional coverage choices and amounts to help you more fully address your risks.
What Coverage Is Included in a Truckers Insurance Policy?
All commercial trucks must be covered with liability insurance. Liability insurance covers injuries and property damage caused to others in an accident that you or your drivers cause. Liability minimums are mandated by law in each state, but truckers who frequently cross state lines will need to meet federally mandated minimums as well.
The liability minimums for big truck insurance are dependent on the weight class of your truck and the types of materials that are being hauled. For example, a Class A semi-truck weighing 10,000 pounds and hauling hazardous materials will require a minimum of coverage requirement of $1 million while a truck weighing under 10,000 pounds and carrying general commodities will need minimum liability coverage of $300,000. Trucks carrying explosives require a minimum of $5 million in liability coverage, regardless of weight.
In addition to the primary liability coverage required by law, you can choose from the following truckers insurance policy options when building your policy:
- Physical damage insurance: This insurance is usually required by the lenders when you finance the purchase of your rig. It typically lasts for the duration of your loan and provides coverage if your truck is damaged in a collision, regardless of fault. Comprehensive insurance will also include coverage for damage and loss caused by natural disasters, fire, theft and vandalism.
- Medical payments insurance: This insurance provides coverage for any medical costs that you or other drivers/passengers may incur from an accident in your rig. Insurance companies will often require you to provide them with a list of all drivers who will be operating the vehicle and may base rates on the driving records of those listed.
- Equipment coverage: This insurance can be purchased as an addition to your physical damage policy. It provides coverage for loss or damage to driver-owned property kept in the truck, as well as equipment such as chains, tarps and added electronic and navigational devices. Some policies will even provide compensation for losses caused by fuel spills.
- Motor truck cargo insurance: This insurance covers the cargo you are hauling if it is lost or damaged while you are transporting it. The federal government requires you to have a minimum of $5,000 in coverage for your cargo, but you will likely be required by the shipper to carry more insurance.
- Bobtail insurance: This insurance provides coverage for your commercial tractor when there is no trailer is in tow. This coverage is effective whether the vehicle is being driven for commercial or personal use. Though similar, bobtail insurance is different from non-trucking liability insurance.
- Non trucking liability insurance: This type of trucker insurance is designed specifically for independent owner-operators. When you are leasing out your services to another company, they generally provide your liability coverage; however this coverage is only valid when your truck is being driven for business purposes. Non trucking liability insurance covers you while you are not working on the job, such as while you are driving to and from the job site or if you use your vehicle for personal reasons.
- Occupational accident insurance: This coverage acts as a supplement to workers compensation. It provides your drivers and their families with added protection if a driver is hurt while on the job. It provides benefits for accidental death and dismemberment, medical expenses for accident-related injuries, and both temporary and long-term disability coverage. You also have the option to purchase additional coverage that will include compensation for non-work related accidents.
- Non-owned trailer coverage: This insurance provides compensation for damages to a third-party-owned trailer that you have hitched to your rig. This coverage is for the structure of the trailer only and does not include the contents. Additionally, it will only cover damages that are incurred while the trailer is hitched to your truck.
Is Semi Truck Insurance Expensive?
The cost of your trucking insurance policy is dependent on several factors. Things that can affect costs include:
- The number of trucks you need to insure
- The size, age, model and condition of your truck(s)
- Experience and driving-record of anyone who will be operating the vehicle
- The routes you will cover and annual mileage
- The types of loads you will haul
- The types of coverage options you select
- The amount of your deductible
To get the right amount of coverage for your needs and avoid overpaying for coverage you don’t need, be sure to sit down with a knowledgeable agent who can make sure your policy is customized to you.
Find the Best Trucking Insurance Policy for Your Semi Rig
Purchasing truckers insurance for the first time can be daunting. With so many coverage options, you may wonder if you have purchased enough coverage, or have overpaid by purchasing unnecessary coverage. Luckily, there are resources you can use for help.
- Independent insurance agents - These insurers can help you evaluate your options quickly and easily. They don't work for a parent company and can shop for coverage options for you to compare from a variety of companies.
- Attorneys - A good lawyer can be an excellent person to help you evaluate your liability risks. Lawyers can also take a look at your coverage to make sure you're covered for the risks you face on the road.
- Financial planners - If you're running a trucking business, you probably have an accountant or financial planner helping you with your books. It can be a good idea to consult with these professionals to help you decide how much coverage to buy to help you recover after an accident, and they can also help you budget for insurance costs.