Trucking Insurance for Shipping Hazardous Goods

Strong Tie Insurance March 17, 2020 StrongtieInsurance

There are over 1.5 billion tons of hazardous materials transported each year in the United States. This happens via boat, aircraft, or by truck. Since these materials are hazardous, there are strict guidelines pertaining to how they are stored, shipped, and disposed of. The extra safety concerns can impact your commercial trucking insurance rates as well as overall costs associated with making the delivery. Even with higher costs, the need for these materials to make it to their destination is still great, so compensation is on par with the risk.

Whether you’re currently involved in shipping hazardous goods or are looking into adding that service to your menu, here is what you need to know regarding your trucking insurance.

What Is Considered Hazardous Material?

According to the Secretary of Transportation, hazardous materials are “any substance that poses an unreasonable risk to health and safety or property.” This broad definition covers materials that could contaminate or injury others if the cargo gets loose. There are also risks of fire, explosions, and the release of toxic fumes after an accident. Hazardous materials can be difficult and expensive to clean up after an accident.

 

As you can imagine, there are severe risks associated with transporting hazardous materials. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, there are over 225 fatal crashes involving hazardous materials each year. There are 6,000 non-fatal, but still destructive, accidents per year. 

 

The United State Department of Transportation regulates hazardous materials by breaking them into nine major classes:

 

  • Class 1 – Explosives
  • Class 2 – Gases
  • Class 3 – Flammable Liquid
  • Class 4 – Flammable Solid
  • Class 5 – Oxidizing Substances and Organic Peroxides
  • Class 6 – Poisonous (Toxic) and Infectious Substances
  • Class 7 – Radioactive Material
  • Class 8 – Corrosives
  • Class 9 – Miscellaneous Dangerous Goods (such as water pollutants, hazardous waste, etc.)

 

While most hazardous materials are transported in tankers, that is not always the case. Here are some of the most common types of hazardous materials:

 

  • Adhesives
  • Fuels, such as gasoline, kerosene, diesel, propane, etc. 
  • Chemicals
  • Cleaning Compounds
  • Fertilizers
  • Waste Solvents
  • Batteries
  • Pesticides
  • Fireworks and Dynamite
  • BioHazards
  • Anhydrous Ammonia
  • Petroleum Products
  • Paint
  • Contaminated soil or products

Commercial Trucking Insurance Requirements

Truckers who haul hazardous materials have multiple levels of insurance to consider. States already mandate certain liability insurance for all truckers. Beyond that, there are a host of other endorsements and policy add-ons that are recommended or required for different kinds of haulers. Hazardous materials haulers have even more regulations to follow on top of some of the general requirements for all truckers. 


Depending on the cargo you carry, you may need an insurance plan with liability for up to five million dollars. If you’re not sure how your cargo is classified, it’s crucial that you contact the shipper. Not having the correct insurance can not only put you at greater risk, but can result in civil penalties, fines, and even jail time.

What to Look for in Commercial Trucking Insurance for Hazardous Goods

When shopping for insurance, you want to make sure that your insurance carrier has experience with hazardous materials policies. The cargo you haul may require additional endorsements, like Pollution Liability, Wrongful Delivery of Liquids, or General Liability of Hazardous Materials Haulers. 

The right kind of insurance should cover everything from loading and unloading cargo, to site pollution cleanup, to in-transit operations. You also want to make sure your insurance provider understands the risks and realities of hauling these materials. Working with a company that’s out of the loop could end up costing a great deal of money down the line. 

Imagine a scenario where you’re hauling hazardous material, and there is an accident. Unfortunately, the material you were hauling leaks onto the highway and poses a risk to public safety and property. A seasoned trucking insurance company will understand what needs to be done. It’s not just about getting your truck fixed or attending to any injuries- there is also a need to clean up the spill. The longer the materials are loose, the more damage it can cause, and the more money it could cost your company. Inexperienced insurance companies might leave the hazardous cleanup job up to local authorities. This could cost valuable time and put more people at risk. 

Another important element to consider is the kind of customer service your insurance provider offers. You might be able to save money by going with a company that isn’t open as often or doesn’t have a large staff. While this might seem like a great idea at first, it can ultimately hurt you. Imagine that the scenario above happened on the weekend or at night. Waiting until regular business hours to file your claim could be detrimental to your business. Make sure you work with a company that can respond to your needs on your time and not on theirs.

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How to Save On Your Commercial Trucking Insurance

Your trucking insurance costs are a bit part of your fixed costs. You want to make sure that you’re not only sufficiently covered, but that you’re also not paying too much. The best way to make sure you’re getting the best rate is to shop around. Even if you already have coverage, it is wise to get quotes from other companies every now and again. When you shop around, make sure to compare the same types of coverages with each other so as to compare apples to apples. 

Some other things you can do to help bring your trucking insurance rates down involve the following:

Focus on safety. If you have previous hazardous material violations, it will raise your rates. This is akin to how having previous accidents in your family car can increase your personal auto insurance rates. Drivers with clean records across all facets will ultimately help bring costs down. 

Always carry the right insurance. One thing that really makes insurance rates skyrocket is gaps in coverage. This doesn’t mean you need to carry unnecessary policies all of the time, but it does mean you should have the right kind of coverage without interruption. 

Ask for discounts. Some insurance companies offer discounts if bills are paid in full as opposed to monthly installments. Others offer discounts for safe driving records, safety training, and more. Your insurance company wants to reduce risk and will often offer incentives for you to do the same

Get The Right Kind of Insurance with Strong Tie Insurance

At Strong Tie Insurance, we understand the ins-and-outs of hazardous material transportation. That means we can help you get the right kind of coverage for your needs. Give us a call for your free consultation and quote, and let us take care of the rest.