The Ultimate Guide to Shopping for Commercial Truck Insurance

Use these unbeatable commercial truck insurance strategies to find the right policy for you.

Whether you own a single truck or an entire fleet, choosing the right commercial truck insurance is critical to protecting and prolonging the success of your hauling operations for as long as possible. From legal minimum insurance requirements to money-saving tips that most people overlook, this comprehensive commercial trucking insurance guide aims to get you the right amount of coverage at an affordable price.

Semi-trucks and big rigs all need to be properly insured, so let’s learn how!

What is the Cost of a Commercial Truck Insurance Policy Based On?

Commercial truck insurance companies have to account for many different factors and risks when determining truck insurance rates:

  • Factor #1: Cargo

    Insurance companies want to know the type of cargo that’s being carried as well as its value. This will help determine how much it costs to replace and how much damage the cargo can cause in the event of an accident.

    Special cargo (such as livestock) and oversized loads will always up the policy price.

  • Factor #2: Driving radius

    Insurance companies measure the distance from your starting point to your farthest destination in a straight line to classify your policy into one of three types:

    • Local – No more than 50 miles of traveling
    • Intermediate – 51 to 100 miles
    • Long Distance – Over 200 miles
  • Factor #3: Route Risks

    Crime, high volumes of accidents, bad weather patterns and other area-specific risks can make your policy go up in price.

    The location where your trucks are kept overnight will also highly influence the policy.

  • Factor #4: Driving Record

    The number of years that you have been driving and the number of accidents and traffic infractions you’ve incurred can raise or lower your monthly premiums accordingly.

  • Factor #5: Vehicle Information

    The age, quality and model of a truck heavily factors into the policy.

What You Need to Get a Truck Insurance Policy Quote

The following information, though not required, will get you the most accurate commercial trucking insurance quote:

  • Insurance Policy Declaration – If you are currently insured, then this is the first page of your policy. It has your name, location, policy expiration date, and other information that will help the new insurance company determine a different policy.
  • Driver’s License & History – A driver’s license and printed driving history (accidents, speeding tickets, and other infractions) for yourself and any other driver you employ is required for a policy, and will help with quotes as well.
  • Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) – This number can be found on the registration.
  • Safety Information – The insurance company will probably have additional questions about the safety features on your truck that can be found in the manual.
Insurance Quote Requirements
Having the right information makes getting an insurance quote easy.

The Different Types of Commercial Trucking Insurance

There are two basic types of trucking insurance (and four sub-categories):

  • Type #1: Liability Insurance

    This form of insurance is mandatory for all trucks. It’s a general coverage policy in which the insurance company will help pay for damages caused by your fleet.

  • Type #2: Non-trucking Insurance

    A general term for the many different types of insurance policies that cover damages when the vehicle is not transporting cargo. While not mandatory, insurance companies won’t cover accidents that occur “off-the-job” without this type of insurance.

    • Bobtail – Goes into effect when there’s no cargo on the truck, and no trailer attached. For example, when returning from a delivery or if the owner drives it for personal use.
    • Occupational Accident – Otherwise known as owner operator insurance, this type of insurance does not technically classify the driver as an employee if they are injured in a company vehicle (a distinction that can prevent your business from being sued).
    • Motor Truck Cargo – This covers the cost of the actual payload itself (not the truck or any individuals) in the event of an accident.
    • Physical Damage – Damage from non-transportation-related accidents such as theft, floods and fires.
Calculate Insurance Coverage Amount
Buying the minimum amount of insurance can cost you a fortune if an expensive accident happens.

Minimum Insurance Requirements

Commercial truck insurance requires basic coverage for your own assets and additional insurance to cover the potential damage to your customers and their property. The cargo itself requires a minimum amount of insurance as well that can vary depending on its value and type.

The minimum insurance requirements for commercial trucks over 10,000 pounds are:

  • Cargo – $750,000 for non-hazardous items
  • Passengers – $5,000,000 for vehicles that can seat 15 people or more.

The minimum insurance requirements for commercial trucks under 10,001 pounds are:

  • Cargo – $300,000 for non-hazardous items.
  • Passengers – Still $5,000,000 for vehicles that can seat 15 people or more.

Minimum Insurance for Transporting Hazardous Materials

The weight of your truck does not matter when you are transporting hazardous materials, in which case you need coverage between $1 million and $5 million depending on the cargo’s classification:

  • Class A

    These items pose a detonating risk and are considered “maximum hazard”. Automatic $5 million minimum.

  • Class B

    These items are flammable. Automatic $5 million minimum.

All other hazardous materials besides Class A and Class B have a $1 million minimum insurance coverage. For a full breakdown of hazardous materials and their classes, refer to this federal legal chart.

Transporting Hazardous Materials
Class A and Class B materials are the most dangerous, and therefore carry higher insurance rates.

MC Numbers and Trucking Insurance

If you are going to be transporting goods across state lines, then you need to have your Motor Carrier (MC) number from your Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC) authority. Insurance companies will not give you a policy without one. If you need to get an MC number, or if you need to get a United States Department of Transportation (US DOT) number – which is a necessary step to get an MC – then follow this link and register online.

How to Save Money When Shopping for Trucker’s Insurance

Commercial trucking insurance can be very expensive, and for good reason. Trucks are commonly targeted for theft (due to their valuable cargo) and accidents cause much more damage than small personal automobiles. However, there are some steps you can take to stave off high rates.

Bring Down Insurance Premiums

Bring down your vehicle insurance premiums and increase your profitability with these helpful tips.

  • Tip #1: Pay upfront

    If you can afford to pay your entire policy at the beginning of the year instead of monthly installments, you can save upwards of 15 percent total on your insurance plan.

  • Tip #2: Automated payments

    Aside from never forgetting to pay, you can also avoid hidden checking fees by paying electronically.

  • Tip #3: Be loyal

    Trust your fleet with one insurance company to receive a bulk discount.

  • Tip #4: Safety programs

    Training your employees in safety can save you 10 percent or more on your insurance. Ask about the requirements and compare the savings with the cost of training.

  • Tip #5: Maintenance program

    Keep a maintenance program in writing to impress insurance companies (a tactic that can sometimes shave 5 percent off your total cost).

  • Tip #6: Be honest

    Attempting to fudge driving records or hide vehicle histories will eventually be discovered and adjusted (if your policy is not canceled outright).

Need to Buy Commercial Truck Insurance?

You can’t spend decades listing over-the-road and vocational trucks like us and not come across some fine insurance folks while doing business. Browse our great selection of semi-trucks and other commercial trucks first, and then check out our list of commercial truck insurance companies to find a reputable provider who cares!

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About Kyler Richman
Kyler is a reporter and staff writer at My Little Salesman.