Whether you are new to operating a semi-truck or have been driving a big rig for years, you must examine your commercial truck insurance at least once a year. Evaluating your semi-truck insurance is more than shopping around for the best price, which is also important, but determining if your needs have changed and then making the necessary adjustments.
Insurance is going to make up one of your most substantial fixed expenses, so you want to make sure you are getting a good deal that meets your unique needs. Here are some things you should keep in mind when considering semi-truck insurance for your business.
Commercial Truck Insurance: Do I Need It?
In nearly every U.S. state, at least some form of liability insurance is required for all drivers. The most significant difference between a personal insurance policy and a commercial policy is the amount of coverage available. Commercial truck insurance policies offer far more to cover the higher risks associated with larger, more expensive vehicles and the included cargo. Your specific business may have additional risks that insurance carriers must consider, like if you haul hazardous materials.
Insurance Companies: What Should I Look For?
There are a plethora of commercial insurance carries out there. It can be a bit overwhelming to know who to trust with your insurance needs. Here are some things to consider when selecting your next insurance carrier or evaluating your current provider.
Experience: While you should always look for reputable companies, you should find a carrier that understands the trucking industry. The accidents, risks, and potential losses involved with driving a semi-truck are different than those associated with other vehicles. You might be tempted to go with the cheapest insurance carrier. If they don’t fully understand your industry, it could cost you much more in the long run.
If you are hauling a hazardous material and there is an accident, dangerous chemicals could spill over the road. An insurance company with intimate knowledge of the trucking business will send an adjuster who knows about clearing up the spill. If local law enforcement is left to manage things, the clean up could be far more expensive and take longer to complete. Your insurer should also understand the dynamics of semi-truck repair in case your truck is damaged on the road.
Service: Some insurance companies keep limited hours. These hours may work for you, but you may also find that an after-hours claim is necessary. Waiting until regular business hours to make your claim could result in huge losses for your company. In general, the sooner your insurance company can get involved, the better.
Some providers offer additional services: training videos, manuals, safety hotlines, and more.
Insurance Coverages: What Kinds Are There?
The kind of coverage you need will depend mostly on your business: what do you haul, how far will you pull it, and who will do the hauling? It is vital to understand the different types of insurances available so that you can pick the right ones for your needs. Here are the most common types of commercial truck insurances:
- Truckers General Liability covers your actions while you are operating somewhere else. For example, if your driver is working on a loading dock. General liability also helps cover any mistakes made during the delivery of the cargo.
- Primary Liability covers damage you cause to others while operating your semi. This coverage does not pertain to damages made to your truck.
- Physical Damage Coverage helps to repair or replace equipment that has been damaged during an accident or theft.
- Non-Trucking Liability covers damages made to others while the truck is not under dispatch. For example, if you use your semi-truck to help a friend move and are involved in an accident.
- Motor Truck Cargo covers your cargo. Insurance plans can restrict what and how the shipment is included, so make sure you find the appropriate policy. For a wide range of cargo coverage, look for something that covers your cargo regardless of the risk involved.
- Trailer Interchange/Non-Owned Trailer is used when you are hauling a trailer that you don’t own. Sometimes there are agreements created called “trailer interchanges.”
- Medical Payment Insurance helps cover medical bills if you or a passenger is injured while on the job. This coverage can vary from state to state.
- Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Insurance protects you in case someone else causes an accident but doesn’t have sufficient insurance to cover your losses.
Semi-Truck Insurance: How Do I Get It?
You’ll want to get quotes from multiple companies. Be careful not to make decisions based solely on the price. Make sure to compare the actual coverages and don’t forget to consider the deductible.
The deductible is the amount that you pay out of pocket before your insurance kicks in. Generally speaking, a higher deductible will result in lower monthly premium payments, while lower deductibles will have higher monthly premiums.
Several factors go into determining your rate and availability:
- Your personal driving record, or the driving histories of your employees
- Where your trucks are kept and whether that location is safe or not
- Legal liability requirements, depending on your business and state laws
- The age and condition of your vehicles
- The area in which your company does business
Information You Will Need
When the time comes to start getting quotes, you want to have the driver’s license numbers and driving history for anyone who will be operating a semi-truck. You’ll also need to provide the vehicle identification number (VIN) for each of your trucks. Some companies may also want to see your current insurance declaration page. This page is also helpful for you to know what kind of insurance policy you had before.
Make sure to provide all of this information as accurately as possible. It might be tempting to bend the truth a little or to hide an employee’s bad driving history, but this falsehood could cost you much more than you aim to save.