Commercial Vehicle Insurance for Independent Truckers. What Do You Need and How Much?


The Department of Labor estimates that nine percent of America’s 3.4 million truck drivers are independent owner-operators. If you’re one of these road warriors, you know how tough it is to keep on truckin’ with rising prices.  Current estimates showing you making a whopping  4.8 cents’ profit on every dollar earned. Aside from fuel, one of your biggest operational costs is commercial vehicle insurance for truckers. Your driving record may be impeccable but overall statistics for truckers in general.

Data from 2006, the most recent currently available from the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, shows that trucks were involved in fatal accidents at a significantly higher rate per 100 million miles traveled than were passenger vehicles: 2.12 compared to 1.49.  In 2008, large rigs represented 4% of all registered vehicles in the U.S., 7% of the total miles traveled and 11% of the fatal accidents. Clearly, the primary reason for the disparity in truck versus passenger vehicle fatalities is the big difference in size. Your truck can out-weigh the typical car 20 or 30 times. That extra heft means it can take you up to 40% longer to stop.  Add in the disproportionate amount of time you spend on the road and you’re probably not looking at cheap commercial vehicle insurance.

To keep your commercial vehicle insurance costs as low as possible, it helps to know what you need and how much. Obviously, that’s going to depend a lot on things like what you drive and what you haul but here are some basic guidelines.

Primary Liability Insurance for Truckers. You are required by the laws of all 50 states to carry a minimum of $750,000 PLI to cover injuries and damages to other drivers and vehicles. Some PLI policies will also cover damages to you and your rig for an additional fee. If an accident is proven to be your fault, you can be sued for additional compensation, so you’ll need to decide if $750,000 satisfies your risk exposure.

General Liability Insurance for Truckers. A variety of policies are available to cover different off-the-road liabilities such as accidents that happen while you’re at a truck stop or rest stop or loading and unloading cargo, as well as theft and vandalism. Again, assess your risk exposure to determine what you need.

Non-Trucking Liability Insurance for Truckers.  This so-called deadhead insurance covers damages to your rig when it’s in for repairs, parked at your home or any other circumstances when you and the truck aren’t officially on the clock.  

Motor Truck Cargo Insurance for Truckers. This covers what you haul. It assures your clients of compensation if the cargo is lost, stolen or destroyed. As an independent owner-operator, your clients will probably require you to carry it.

To be certain that you’re carrying the right commercial vehicle insurance for your particular truck, check with your insurance agent.

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