Why You Shouldn’t Overlook Bobtail Insurance

Strong Tie Insurance February 28, 2020 Commercial Truck Insurance
If you drive a commercial truck without a trailer, you are guilty of bobtailing. Don’t worry though, bobtailing isn’t illegal or a problem. In fact, it’s often a necessary part of the job. Bobtailing usually occurs after you drop off a load for one job and are on your way home or to pick up another load. The challenge with bobtailing is that your regular commercial trucking insurance doesn’t cover you during this time. If you know that bobtailing is going to be part of your future, you should consider adding bobtail insurance to your policy. Bobtail insurance covers damages to property or bodily injuries caused when you’re driving without a trailer and is regarded as a different kind of liability insurance. Here are some things to consider why you shouldn’t overlook bobtail insurance:

What Does Bobtail Insurance Cover?

As a liability coverage, bobtail insurance only covers you if you’re responsible for causing an accident without hailing a trailer. For example:
  • After dropping off a load of cargo, you depart to pick up a new load at another facility. During the trip between locations, you cause an accident.
  • Before the workday has started, you are driving your truck from your home or the hotel to pick up the first load of the day. During this morning commute, you cause an accident.
  • After a long day of making deliveries, you are excited to head home for a good night’s sleep. On your trip back home, you cause an accident.
All of these scenarios have something in common: the driver caused an accident while not on the job. Even though you might be in between jobs, regular liability insurance does not apply during these moments. Bobtail insurance doesn’t cover physical damage to your vehicle from an accident that you cause. It is used to cover legal fees, medical bills from injuries, and settlement expenses from the accident. Bobtail insurance doesn’t make up for other types of insurance policies as it only applies to specific instances. Make sure you chat with your trucking insurance provider to ensure you understand what your policy covers and if you need to add additional coverage.

Who Should Consider Bobtail Insurance?

If you ever find yourself driving without a trailer, you should consider bobtail insurance. Even if you work under a dispatcher, the company’s liability insurance doesn’t cover you when you’re driving without a trailer. Here are some of the most common scenarios where bobtail insurance is necessary:
  • The company you contract with requires additional truck insurance.
  • You drive without a trailer under the authority of someone else.
  • The company you contract for requires it.
  • You’d prefer to avoid out-of-pocket expenses after an accident.

Who Shouldn’t Consider Bobtail Insurance?

It’s quite possible that you’ll never drive bobtail at all. There’s no use in adding an insurance policy if it’s of no use to you. Here are some of the most common scenarios where bobtail insurance isn’t a great idea:
  • You never drive your truck without a trailer.
  • You operate under your own authority and carry the appropriate types of commercial trucking insurance.
  • You need an insurance policy that will cover the personal use of your truck.

How Much Does Bobtail Insurance Cost?

There are a variety of factors that go into determining the price of bobtail insurance. Your insurance providers will review your driving history, how often you operate your truck without an attached trailer, and what kinds of limits you’re seeking. While quotes will certainly vary from company to company, you should expect a bobtail plan to cost between $30 and $50 or more per month. In most cases, bobtail policies cover up to one million dollars. You can usually add a more substantial coverage amount, but it will raise the price of your monthly premium. Make sure to chat with your insurance carrier or shop around to find the best prices and bundled options.

What About Non-Trucking Liability Insurance?

It’s easy to confuse bobtail insurance and non-trucking insurance. The latter is insurance used for independent semi drivers when they are outside of the scope of their lease agreement with a motor carrier. Non-trucking insurance is relevant when the driver is using his truck without a trailer on his own time. Non-trucking liability insurance does not provide coverage when drivers are under dispatch. It’s often much less expensive and more narrow in what it covers. It’s also less common but can be required by motor carriers who employee independent drivers as these drivers often drive without trailers for personal reasons.

How to Find the Best Bobtail Insurance Policy

As with any insurance policy, it’s essential that you shop around for the best quotes. You might feel a particular loyalty to your current commercial trucking insurance provider- but while commitment is an admirable quality, it doesn’t help your business save money. If you’re starting out, make sure to get quotes from several companies so you can see all of the best options. Even if you’ve been in business and paying for commercial insurance for years, it’s still worth shopping around every year or so. When you shop around for bobtail insurance quotes, make sure to compare the exact same coverages. One company might give you a lower quote but with less overall coverage. Another company might seem like they have a higher price, but don’t cover the same amount. It’s crucial to always compare apples to apples when it comes to insurance. Another element that you should consider when searching for bobtail insurance is the actual insurance company. There are tons of places out there offering cheap commercial insurance that don’t know the trucking industry. Understanding your business is the difference between getting your truck back on the road after an accident and waiting for local authorities to take over the scene.

Contact Strong Tie Insurance Today

At Strong Tie Insurance, we don’t just know the trucking industry: we understand which types of coverage are vital for your business. That means you don’t pay for insurance you don’t need or go without sufficient coverage. More importantly, we can create a custom policy just for your unique needs. Give us a call and get your free trucking insurance quote today!

When Are Punitive Damages Awarded?

To actually recover punitive damages, the plaintiff must show that the defendant engaged in intentional misconduct or gross negligence. In most cases with truck accidents involving punitive damages, the driver was deemed reckless enough to show he was indifferent to the safety or rights of others.

A pattern of violating safety regulations can often be used to fit the definition of gross negligence. If, for example, a driver has a history of texting while driving his 18-wheeler, an accident caused by distracted driving could meet the requirements for gross negligence. This is different from a driver who drives distracted one time and creates a collision. That’s not to say a single act of negligence couldn’t be used to this end, but harmful patterns of poor choices never help the driver.

In some states, trucking companies can also be held liable for punitive damages due to one of its drivers. Many lawyers will name both the driver and the trucking company in the lawsuit in hopes of getting a better payout. For the trucking company to be part of the punitive damages, it must have knowingly participated and condoned in the misconduct.

If the trucking company knew one of its drivers regularly texted while driving but did nothing about it, the company could be held liable for the accident. The same is true if the company had policies that forced drivers to break laws or regulations.

Does My Insurance Cover Punitive Damages?

Most people assume that if they have liability insurance, they are covered for any damages they cause. Many insurance policies exclude punitive damages, aren’t very clear, or are intentionally vague. Some state courts have ruled that policies that don’t say otherwise should include punitive damages. In these situations, the term “damages” is vague enough that it covers everything. Other courts focus on coverages that specify covering bodily injury or property damage and believe this excludes punitive damages.

Insurance companies have another option. Since punitive damages are only awarded if the accident was caused by intentional acts or gross misconduct, there is an out. Most commercial truck insurance policies exclude coverage for losses caused by deliberate acts and gross misconduct. Essentially, most insurance policies won’t cover direct actions that lead to an accident.

In some states, courts don’t allow insurance companies to cover punitive damages as a point of policy. If the idea of punitive damages is to punish the offender for gross misconduct, having an insurance company pay the fine doesn’t complete the goal. Other states allow insurance companies to cover punitive damages so long as the policy doesn’t say otherwise. Where the case is filed plays a considerable role. If an accident happens in Pennsylvania, for example, the state doesn’t allow for punitive damages cannot be covered by insurance. The plaintiff could potentially file in another state if the company is headquartered somewhere that allows punitive damages to be paid by insurance. This kind of maneuvering can be used to pressure insurance companies to settle out of court versus battling the case in a state that might allow a bigger payout.

Talk to Strong Tie Insurance Today

Since knowing if your commercial trucking insurance covers punitive damages can depend on several factors, your best bet is to talk to a company that understands insurance inside and out. As one of the country’s leading insurance companies, Strong Tie Insurance can not only help you find the right policy for your trucking needs but can make sure you’re not overpaying for policies you don’t need. More importantly, we have options to help customers who have concerns regarding punitive damages. Give us a call today and get a free quote and evaluation of your trucking insurance needs!