Commercial truck insurance refers to a group of policies designed to protect businesses that use trucks. The types of coverage you need and how much they cost is determined by how trucks fit into your operations. Someone using a single box truck for deliveries requires fewer policies than a trucker who drives a semi.
Top Commercial Truck Insurance Providers
Any business looking for quality coverage at a discount
Distributors transporting refrigerated goods
Trucking companies who need cargo coverage with their truck insurance
Tow truck drivers who want to compare offers for multiple policies
Mid-sized businesses that depend on trucks and want downtime loss coverage
Business owners looking for a top commercial truck insurance provider have two general options. The first is to work with a broker who can help you navigate the process and has access to multiple insurance carriers, and the second is to contact a carrier directly. Either way, you want to get insurance from a financially stable company that knows your industry.
As the largest truck insurance provider, Progressive Commercial can offer everything from cargo insurance to trailer interchange coverage while also assisting truckers with federal and state filings. The company has eight discounts for truckers, including its Smart Haul Program that gives truckers a minimum of 3% off their premiums when they use an electronic logging device that collects driving data like behavior and location. The combination of options, service, and price makes Progressive Commercial the top choice for truck insurance.
Family-owned Colonial Insurance Services specializes in trucking insurance and works with top-rated carriers to negotiate affordable coverage to truckers across the US. The company has a refrigerated truck program with policies starting at $400 per month per truck that includes essential coverage for reefer breakdown and loading and unloading risks. This makes it an ideal option for distributors that use refrigerated trucks such as those that haul groceries or pharmaceuticals.
CoverWallet is an excellent choice for business owners who need cargo insurance. It partners with multiple top-rated insurance carriers so truckers and business owners with trucking operations can compare premiums and policy terms. Getting to choose between carriers means applicants can often find affordable coverage that best suits their businesses. CoverWallet’s truck insurers offer cargo insurance for as low as $125 per month. Combining that with commercial auto increases the lowest premium available to $600 per month.
Tow truck drivers should look for coverage through HUB International, another insurance broker that can offer policies from many sources. HUB International can offer the usual commercial truck policies plus coverage for garage keeper’s liability, on-hook towing, and repossession activities. Moreover, it can find you policies whether you’re a one-person business or have a fleet of tow trucks.
The Hartford is an ideal carrier for mid-sized businesses that are heavily dependent on trucks, starting up with truckers operating under their own authority and ending with wholesalers with a fleet delivering goods to retailers. Business owners who don’t want an accident to damage their revenue can opt for coverage that makes it easier to get back on the road, including coverage for income loss, rental trucks, and towing.
What Commercial Truck Insurance Is
The type of commercial truck insurance you need depends on your business operations and the size of your vehicles. Commercial auto insurance is usually enough coverage for businesses that use pickup trucks and cargo vans, in which case policies typically cover your or your employees’ liability in car accidents. Business owners can get additional coverage for damage to their truck, roadside assistance, and medical payments.
Semi-truck insurance, however, is a different story. Semi drivers generally need specialized policies because their size, the distance they travel, and the cargo they carry create unique risks. Truck drivers may be self-employed business owners, also called owner-operators, or they can work for a trucking company. Each situation requires different coverage.
What Commercial Truck Insurance Covers for Smaller Trucks
If you’re insuring light and medium duty trucks, you’re most likely going to get commercial auto insurance. These policies typically start with liability coverage, which is required by law in most states to pay for injuries or property damage you’re deemed responsible for.
Once you have liability coverage, you can add other coverage, including:
- Collision: Pays for damages to your business-owned truck caused by an accident with another car or object
- Comprehensive: Covers damages to your business-owned truck caused by something other than a collision, like severe weather
- Medical payments: Pays medical bills for you and your passengers after an accident caused by your insured driver
- Uninsured/underinsured motorists: Covers repairs and medical bills after an accident caused by a driver who either doesn’t have insurance or doesn’t have enough of it
- Roadside assistance: Pays for emergency repairs like tire changes or lock services when you’re on the road
Additionally, most business owners with trucks need inland marine insurance. This isn’t exactly truck insurance, but it is an important policy that covers the property in your truck. Commercial property insurance usually only covers business items at your primary location; inland marine covers them when they’re off-site or moving between locations.
What Commercial Truck Insurances Covers for Semi-Trucks
Semi-truck insurance involves a different group of policies. Individuals who own their trucks and operate under their own authority and motor carriers typically need:
- General liability: Covers third-party property damage and bodily harm; sometimes called public liability for truckers
- Trucking liability: Pays other people’s medical and repair bills after a trucking accident when you’re at fault
- Physical damage coverage: Protects your rig by paying for damages caused by collision, theft, vandalism, or extreme weather
- Motor truck cargo coverage: Covers damage to the cargo you’re hauling
- Trailer interchange: Provides physical damage coverage for a non-owned trailer you’re using under a trailer interchange agreement
Depending on their location, owner-operators and motor carriers with employees may need workers’ compensation insurance. Coverage requirements are determined by state law.
Owner-operators who work for motor carriers also need physical damage coverage and cargo insurance plus bobtail coverage and non-trucking liability insurance. Bobtail insurance covers accidents they have while driving for work but not carrying a load, and non-trucking liability pays other people’s damage if the trucker has an accident while driving for personal reasons.
Commercial Truck Insurance Costs
Annual truck insurance premiums vary greatly because insurers look at a number of factors to determine costs, including size, use, and distance traveled. Big rig truckers might pay as much as $16,000 once you add up all the policies they need. Business owners using box trucks usually pay between $3,000 and $5,000 per year.
The size of your truck plays a major role in how much you pay for insurance, and for good reason. Trucks can be 30 to 40 times heavier than a car, and that means they can do a lot of damage in an accident. To account for this, insurers rate all vehicles by their gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR), or their weight when loaded to capacity. Small vehicles, like a pickup, are considered light trucks while a dump truck or cement truck is classified as heavy duty.
Insurers also consider how your truck is used when determining your premium. For instance, a cargo van used mainly to transport painting equipment to job sites sees fewer accidents than a delivery truck that spends more time on the road.
Truck use falls into three categories for rating:
- Service: Used to transport items to work locations
- Retail: Used to pick up and delivery items to residential locations
- Commercial: Used to transport property other than what’s defined as service or retail
Trucks are also classified by the distance traveled during a normal day, measured as a straight line from your garage or storage facility to the destination. Typically, insurers charge lower premiums for trucks that travel shorter distances because less time on the road puts the drivers at a lower risk for accidents.
Below are the radius classes most commercial truck insurance providers use:
- Local: Under 50 miles
- Intermediate: 50 to 200 miles
- Long distance: More than 200 miles
No matter what kind of truck you drive, accidents and violations can impact your premium. This may be especially true for larger, heavy-duty trucks because of the additional risk associated with them.
Type of Cargo
Some cargo is more dangerous to transport, so insurers also consider what you haul when determining your insurance costs. Truckers responsible for carrying gasoline, hazardous waste, heavy equipment, or anything else that might cause extensive damage in an accident usually pay more than someone who drives a similar truck but hauls small retail goods.
Additionally, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has minimum liability insurance limits for truckers who need federal filings—generally, interstate truckers or those carrying federally regulated commodities. Depending on your cargo and the size of your truck, the minimum is between $300,000 and $5 million:
The FMCSA’s minimum liability insurance requirements are:
- Non-hazardous freight in trucks under 10,001 lbs.: $300,000
- Non-hazardous freight in trucks over 10,001 lbs.: $750,000
- Oil transported by for-hire truckers or private carriers: $1 million
- Other hazardous material moved by for-hire truckers or private carriers: $5 million
Insurance regulations are handled by the state, making your business’s primary location an important factor in your commercial truck coverage. Nearly every state requires some degree of liability insurance for vehicles, and most small business owners will find that it’s the same as what their state requires for their personal autos. However, heavy-duty trucks and businesses that haul hazardous materials usually have different requirements.
Truckers operating under their own authority typically pay more for their entire insurance package because they don’t have a leasing company covering some of the costs. On the other hand, leased truckers need additional policies that others don’t, namely bobtail and non-trucking liability coverage.
How to Save on Commercial Truck Insurance
Truck insurance can take a hefty bite out of your profits, so it makes sense to look for cheap commercial truck insurance. However, cheap insurance can become expensive if you have to file a claim and you don’t have enough coverage. Your better option is to keep value in mind while you shop. That way you can get more for the money you spend.
A few ways you can get cheap commercial truck insurance include:
- Asking for discounts: Insurance providers often offer discounts for things like safe driving or having your commercial driver’s license, so be sure to ask your agent about them
- Reducing accidents: The first step to fewer accidents and violations is to hire good drivers. You can order a copy of a job candidate’s driving record from the Department of Motor Vehicles in the state that issued the license
- Increasing your deductible: Your deductible is the amount you pay in a claim, so choosing a higher one usually means you pay less in premium
- Combining policies: Insurance carriers know they will have an easier time keeping you as a client if you buy more policies and often reward multiple policy buyers with lower premiums
- Considering monthly payments: Insurers typically charge extra when you spread your premium out over several months, but if can find one that doesn’t you can manage the payments better
- Reducing your coverage limits: You can ask for lower limits, but that may mean you don’t have enough coverage during a claim; this is a risky option so be sure to discuss it with your agent
Who Needs Commercial Truck Insurance
Any business with trucking operations needs to insure its trucks against damage as well as its liability in truck-related accidents. The most obvious of these is probably semi-truck drivers, but plenty of other businesses may have liability exposures through trucking, including:
- Contractors with pickup trucks or cargo vans
- Restaurants and retailers with delivery vans
- Wholesalers and moving companies with box trucks
- Garages with tow trucks
Businesses sometimes need coverage if they don’t own trucks but regularly rent, borrow or hire. In that case, they may want hired and non-owned auto to protect both the vehicles they use but don’t own.
Commercial Truck Insurance Requirements
Most states mandate business owners to carry some level of liability coverage for most commercial vehicles. Those that don’t often require evidence that you can meet your financial obligation if you’re ever in an accident.
The FMCSA requires interstate truckers to meet minimum public liability insurance requirements to get the operating authority that allows them to cross state lines. The requirements are based on the commodity you haul and the size of your truck.
Commercial Truck Insurance Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
The type of commercial truck insurance you need depends largely on your unique situation. To make sure we’ve covered all the bases, we’ve answered a few of the most frequently asked questions about truck insurance below.
What kind of insurance do truck drivers need?
Truck drivers need insurance that covers any property or bodily damages they might cause other people. Examples of this include trucking liability, general liability, motor carrier liability, trailer interchange coverage, bobtail insurance, and non-trucking liability. Additionally, they should insure their property with physical damage insurance.
Which states have the best rates for truck insurance?
According to a 2016 Progressive Commercial report, Mississippi has the lowest average commercial truck insurance rate at $3,552 per year. It’s followed by Wyoming ($4,927), Massachusetts ($5,447), Arizona ($6,102), and Nebraska ($6,259). The same study listed New Jersey as the most expensive at $20,763 per year.
Do truckers need umbrella insurance?
With all of the state and federal requirements, commercial trucking insurance can be tricky—even for insurance agents. One way to guard against coverage gaps is to get umbrella insurance to extend the limits on underlying liability policies. If a claim exceeds the limits on an underlying policy, umbrella insurance can pay the remainder.
Whether you’re a contractor carting tools to local job sites or a long-haul trucker driving across state lines, you most likely have minimal commercial trucking insurance requirements to meet. Even if you don’t, the potential damage you could cause in an accident, and the cost if you’re found liable, makes truck insurance a no brainer.
Progressive Commercial can help you find the right trucking insurance for your specific risks. The company also offers filing assistance, multiple discount opportunities, in-house claims management, and a network of truck repair shops, plus an application that takes less than five minutes to complete and returns quotes in seconds.