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Truck Insurance for the Unique Needs of the Owner-Operator

Chelsey Tucker graduated with a Bachelor of History degree from Metropolitan State University in 2019. She now writes about insurance with her specialty being life insurance and has been quoted...

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Dan Walker graduated with a BS in Administrative Management in 2005 and has been working in his family’s insurance agency, FCI Agency, for 15 years. He is licensed as an agent to write property and casualty insurance, including home, auto, umbrella...

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Reviewed byDaniel Walker
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UPDATED: Mar 19, 2020

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Truck Insurance for the Unique Needs of the Owner-OperatorWhen it comes to all the different types of drivers on the road, truck drivers are in a unique class by themselves. They travel the highways from coast to coast, visiting large cities, small towns, and vast areas of wide open space.

And just as their driving experiences are unique, so are their insurance requirements. Truck insurance needs to cover things that average drivers never even think about.

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The special needs of truck insurance are even more pronounced for owner-operators. Whether an owner-operator contracts with multiple trucking companies or leases with a single one, his insurance needs to be appropriate to this situation. Thankfully, shopping for truck insurance is just as easy as shopping for car insurance.

State Minimums for the Truck Owner-Operator

Commercial car insurance for truck owners is very specific, yet shares some similarities with residential auto insurance. Like car owners, commercial truck owner-operators must carry a minimum amount of coverage for property damage, bodily injury, and general liability. Minimums differ according to state regulations, but make no mistake, they exist in every state in the Union.

State minimum coverage works the same way with trucks as it does with cars. The truck driver needs to be protected against financial loss if he is involved an accident; whether or not another vehicle is involved and regardless of who is at fault. The big difference between minimum coverage for cars and trucks is that the minimums for trucks are much higher.

Think of it this way: a truck slamming into a building at 40 miles per hour will do significantly more damage than a compact sedan. Due to weight, size, and the truck’s potential to cause greater damage, state required minimums are significantly higher, and with higher limits come higher premiums. Prices for minimum insurance can vary according to driving history, the regions most normally traveled in, and the history of the truck itself.

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Coverage for the Cargo

When the owner-operator leaves the depot with a full load, he becomes personally responsible for the cargo until it reaches its destination. If that cargo is lost or damaged he needs insurance coverage to protect himself against financial loss. That’s where cargo coverage comes in.

The cost of cargo coverage is determined by the value and type of cargo the driver normally transports. In some cases, cargo insurance also covers the trailer if it is being leased by the owner-operator. The driver who normally transports more valuable or more volatile cargo will pay a higher price for this insurance.

Trailer Insurance

Although trailer insurance isn’t necessarily carried by the owner-operator, in cases where a trailer interchange agreement is reached between him and the company he’s contacting from, trailer insurance is often purchased. This insurance covers the owner of the truck against financial loss should the trailer or equipment owned by the company he’s contacting from is loss to damaged. Oftentimes this insurance is not necessary because companies insure their trailers and equipment on their own.

Bobtail Coverage

Bobtail coverage is an insurance policy that is unique to the transportation industry. It’s carried by truck owner-operators who work for a single company under a lease arrangement.

While that truck is engaged in company business it is covered under the company’s insurance policies. But during times off-duty service, such as transporting the truck to the next town for repairs, bobtail insurance is needed to cover against accidents. Bobtail insurance can also be used to cover against fire, theft, etc., while the truck is parked at the owner’s home.

Finally, there are other types of insurance coverage that owner-operators may need on an occasional basis. One such example would be personal injury compensation insurance to protect contract workers who may load or unload cargo, such as temporary carnival or farm workers. These types of extra insurance coverage are not standard by any means due to the fact that the necessity of such coverage is limited.

Driving a truck over the road is a challenging career to say the least. It’s made even more challenging for drivers who own their own rigs and contract or lease to other companies. Finding the right insurance policy is necessary to protect these owner-operators and their sizable investments should anything tragic befall them.

So next time you’re tempted to get angry at that truck driver who’s moving far too slowly for your tastes, just remember the risk he’s taking and how much money it’s costing him. In his position, you may be just as cautious.

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