It doesn’t really matter if insurance is offered by your carrier that employs you. Chances are you need to have coverage beyond that, regardless if you are an independent driver, owner operator, or lease your truck through them. Now, if you are ‘on-the-clock’ you should be covered anyway. But if you are not, then your insurance should cover you! Many truckers opt to get bobtail insurance and/or non-trucking liability insurance.
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So what does this mean and what is the difference between bobtail insurance and non-trucking liability insurance?
Bobtail insurance isn’t a cut in your coverage but a way to protect yourself. It can cover both, you and your truck when you are not actually hauling a trailer. Bobtail insurance doesn’t cover you if you’re hauling an empty trailer, regardless if it’s a flatbed, reefer, box/van, or whatever, only when you have no trailer.
So why would you drive your truck around without a trailer? There are several reasons:
Remember bobtail insurance covers you when are not hauling a trailer. If you choose you purchase it, your bobtail insurance is used when you are off the clock. If you are bobtailing on the clock, you are getting paid to run without a trailer and the carrier’s bobtail insurance will cover you in the event of an accident.
Non-Trucking Liability Insurance is just that, when you are using the truck for personal (non-trucking industry related) use. When you are using your truck for personal use, is very similar to bobtail insurance. This refers to the grocery store, hauling furniture for a friend, or even going out to eat.
The concept or definition of personal has been argued clarified and muddled by the court system for many years. Basically it means when you are completely off-the-clock. However, if you made your last drop and swing by the local Piggly Wiggly on the way home you should still be covered by your carrier (they owe you return trip to your home). Also work related maintenance runs should be covered, even if they are done on your day off.
When getting the coverage you need, to include bobtail insurance, make sure you have a copy of policy used by your carrier. Thoroughly check to see what is actually covered on it first. Then it is recommended to draft up a list of issues that could happen when driving your vehicle. These both helps you to understand what you need and better ensure you are covered, both by your insurance and the company you drive for.
If you are the carrier make sure your drivers and vehicles are covered for every trucking scenario. You wouldn’t want to find out the hard way that you don’t have bobtail insurance. Imagine assigning drivers to bobtail from one location to another, but on the way they have an accident and you weren’t covered.
So this is why bobtail insurance is so important. It covers the cost of property damage and/or injuries caused while your truck was running without its trailer. So then how do you get it?
Well, there are a couple ways actually. You could sit down at the computer and search for hours and hours, reading all about the different companies. You could research and find insurance brokers who assist in finding the best bobtail insurance rates and deals. Or you could simply ask your current insurance agent if your policy includes bobtail insurance, if not how you can get it.
Now, there are actually companies who specialize in bobtail insurance. Sure they usually offer other services, but will actually offer bobtail insurance as a standalone (like getting dental without medical or vision insurance as well). Others offer package deals (like getting your TV, internet, and phone all in one deal).
A couple of these companies are:
This is of course not an endorsement of any one company just a few examples of what is out there. As with anything it is always advisable to research and check out the company reviews, social media pages and even the Better Business Bureau (BBB). I am sure you will find a company that offers bobtail insurance at a rate that won’t cost more than the accident it is meant to cover.
Speaking of cost, just how much does bobtail insurance cost? Well that really depends on a variety of things. I know it sounds like I don’t know the answer and I am just writing to write. But you have to realize just how big the USA is and how different regions have different standards and cost of living.
The New England states will have a higher cost than the average Mid-west state. But even New York City will have different rates than upstate New York. St. Louis and Chicago won’t have the same rates as Kansas City or Memphis. Heck, even Dallas will have different rates than Fort Worth!
There are several factors to consider, the income and cost of living for an area. The taxes for a particular area, not the federal, as it should be the same relatively speaking. But the state and particularly the local taxes will vary from place to place.
However, it seems a safe bet for an average $1,000,000 bobtail insurance policy will vary from as low as $30 to $160 or more, per month. But this is also based on several key factors. If you are a company with bigger fleet size, they will look at how many trucks you are insuring and offer special group/bulk rates. They will also look into your company’s safety records. Then there are the other usual issues such as drivers’ tickets, accidents, years of experience, age of the equipment.
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