Trucking Insurance



Whether you’re a new owner operator or the owner of an upstart small fleet trucking company, you are going to need your commercial truck insurance agents to start the filing of the required federal trucking insurance liability and cargo forms immediately after obtaining your designated docket number.

The liability and cargo insurance forms must be submitted directly by the home office of the trucking insurance company furnishing the coverage and the filings must be received within 90 days after the FMCSA has published public notice of intention to register the applicant.

Keep in mind each state in which you or your drivers will travel in conducting business will want to know all about your company. After obtaining your federal registration documents, you must register with every state where your big rigs will be rolling. Of course, they all want a piece of the pie...your money and they'll get it either by business license fees or big fines.

What Does The FMCSA Require

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) requires you to provide the minimal amount of insurance shown below. These requirements and additional registration requirements can be found on their web site, 


BMC-91 or BMC-91X  Public liability insurance (bodily injury/property damage/environmental restoration)
  • Motor Contract Carrier and Common Carrier
  • Freight Forwarder (Note: Non-vehicle operating freight forwarders may seek waiver of this requirement.)
  • Freight:--$750,000 - $5,000,000, depending on commodities transported; $300,000 for non-hazardous freight moved only in vehicles weighing under 10,001 lbs.
  • Passengers:--$5,000,000; $1,500,000 for registrants operating only vehicles with seating capacity of 15 or fewer passengers.
 BMC-34  Cargo insurance--$5,000 per vehicle; $10,000 per occurrence  
  • Motor Common Carrier
  • Freight Forwarder
 BMC-84 or BMC- 85  
  • Surety Bond--$10,000
  • Trust Fund Agreement--$10,000
 Broker of Freight
 BOC-3  Legal Process Agents  All Authorities

While these minimal insurance amount requirements will get your trucking business going in respect to getting your Federal Authority, they should not be the only insurance coverage discussed with your insurance agent or agents.

Before leaving the minimal liability and cargo insurance discussion behind, do have a thorough personal financial asset discussion with your agent to determine if you need to bite the bullet and go ahead with increasing your liability limits for two reasons; repairing your damaged big rig and for losing a lawsuit where a lawyer is seeking more than $750,000.

The minimum liability amount means that their insurance will cover up to $750,000 of damage or injury to the other party in an accident.

A judgement against you for over $750,000 might be for more than that amount which means a lawyer may go after your savings, your house, and future income while seeking reparations.

How far an attorney can go after your personal assets may be determined by how you set up your business at the beginning. Did you incorporate or remain a sole proprietor where you personal and business monies were put in the same banking account? You need to discuss the ways to set a business with legal counsel to decide how to best protect your personal assets.

Cargo Insurance

As a "For Hire" carrier, you are required to carry cargo insurance for most commodities.

Will increasing your limits allow you go after more lucrative electronic cargo loads like cell phones, computers and printers?

What Is Typically Covered?
Coverage is for cargo that is lost or damaged due to:
Striking of a load
Debris removal after a load is dumped on the highway
Earned freight to replace wages lost as a result of not delivering the load
Reloading expenses to put a load back on the truck

What about flood waters damaging the cargo or the cargo polluting the environment after an accident? Are These Covered? (Verify with your trucking insurance agent)

On the opposite side of the potential cargo insurance limit increase: There may be certain types of freight loads (commodities) where cargo insurance requirements are waived by FMCSA.

Definitely discuss this possibility with your trucking insurance agent to make sure you are not needlessly spending money to protect loads that do not meet FMCSA requirements.

Now that your Federal Authority is filed and the state requirements are met, it's time to jump in the big rig and fire it up.

Stop before the wheels hit the pavement, did you discuss these types of insurance products listed below with your commercial truck insurance agent?

While not requirements of FMCSA, some of the insurance products may be requirements of the state that your business is registered.

The other products while not required by any federal or state laws may be a very smart business move to protect your personal financial well being and the health of your company.

At least discuss every insurance product listed below with your trucking insurance agent to make an educated decision.

All Risks Coverage versus Named Perils Coverage - Small Print Can Be Very Tricky

Definitely discuss the differences with these two policies with your agent and all risks that can put you out of business.

Imagine sitting on Interstate 40 and the water is quickly rising to where your rig and freight load is underwater in a very short time. Which of the coverage of any did you buy?

Well, flooding was not a named peril in your Named Peril Coverage so you lost. Or flooding was listed as an exclusion in the All Risks Coverage so you lost there too. is just saying be careful, read the fine print and ask a million questions.


Bobtail Coverage - Don't get caught without it and verify the definition of the term "Bobtail Insurance" with your commercial truck agent. There is a confusion between this coverage and the Non-Trucking Liability coverage.

Bobtail insurance is for insuring the tractor when it is being operated without a trailer regardless if the tractor is under dispatch.


Non-Trucking Liability Coverage (Dead Heading) - Another Don't Get Caught Without It Coverage
Covers your liability in the event that you lease out your equipment to a motor carrier whose insurance will (if agreed upon by you, them and your trucking insurance company) provide liability protection for you as long as you are transporting or loading/unloading any goods or merchandise for the motor carrier.

Typically, the motor carrier provided liability coverage immediately stops when you start deadheading and at that time your Non-Trucking Liability Coverage will kick in because you are now using the tractor and trailer for non-business, personal use.

Another Read The Fine Print To Protect Yourself - If you are in an accident while deadheading or with a motor carrier's freight, you don't want to hear your agent say "sorry" but your rig was not properly insured.


Workmens' Comp Insurance - The Government requires that you maintain a worker's compensation policy if you have employees. This is for your protection in the event one of your workers is injured on the job.


Owner Operator Protection Policy - Occupational Accident Policy
You didn't need Workmen's comp since you are a single owner operator but what happens to you and your business if a fall out of a trailer puts you down for 6 months unable to work. This type of policy if put together correctly will pay Accident Medical, Accident Disability Income and for Accidental Death and Dismemberment.


Truckers Policy versus Motor Carrier Policy
Will you be a "for hire" motor carrier or a private carrier or a combination of both? Don't insure as just a private carrier then "hire out" because you may find yourself uninsured even though you are paying premiums.


MCS-90 Endorsement
Discuss what this required endorsement actually includes protection wise and means to your trucking insurance agent. What attachments are included that protect the owner operator or trucking company owner? Don't find yourself caught empty handed in the event an accident pollutes the environment and the commercial truck insurance carrier comes a knocking demanding reimbursement.


Trailer Interchange Coverage
Needed to protect you from non-owned trailer physical damage claims when entering into an documented trailer interchange agreement where you as the insured will have care and custody of trailer.

Truckers Downtime Insurance
Truckers sometimes don't think about the downtime meaning of "you're not making money if the truck is not rolling" until it is too late. Definitely discuss this type of Business Interruption Coverage with your agent to keep the money rolling in the event your tractor or trailer is damaged from an insured peril. (Remember the All Risks Coverage versus Named Perils Coverage)

As you see, there is some very important information and types of trucking insurance coverage to consider to protect your personal assets, your company and your health.

There may be more commercial truck insurance products out there that offer even more financial protection.

Discuss the coverage listed above with several trucking insurance agents to see who offers the best advice for you to be successful.