Commercial truck drivers operate large vehicles and transport materials that may present a hazard to themselves and others on the road. This is why they or their employers take out various insurance policies that can offer financial protection against liability. Let’s take a look at what types of insurance may be necessary for a commercial truck and how much coverage might cost.
What Is a Commercial Truck?
Broadly speaking, a commercial truck is any large, heavy vehicle capable of relatively high-volume transportation that a business or individual uses professionally. There are three general classifications based on gross vehicle weight ratings (GVWR):
- Heavy-duty: A heavy-duty truck weighs at least 26,001 pounds. This classification is reserved for vehicles used in very high-volume and long-haul transportation, such as tractor-trailers. These trucks require a commercial driver’s license (CDL) to operate.
- Medium-duty: Trucks in the medium-duty class weigh anywhere from 10,001 to 26,000 pounds. Examples of such vehicles are box trucks, dump trucks, landscape trucks, and straight trucks.
- Light-duty: Trucks in this category weigh less than 10,000 pounds. The classification comprises pickup trucks, transit vans, and cargo vans.
Whether you’re a business owner who employs truck drivers or an owner-operator of your own truck, you’re obligated to pay auto insurance on each vehicle used in the execution of business operations.
What Are the Average Truck Insurance Rates?
Average truck insurance rates vary depending on particular factors associated with your professional status. If you’re an owner-operator who signs a lease with a motor carrier, you can expect to pay reduced rates. Some estimates show that such drivers pay between $3,000 and $5,000 per year for their insurance, while others show $2,000 to $4,000.
An owner-operator under their own authority can expect to pay more. Those who are just starting out often pay the most, as insurance companies may assume they present greater risk. For these owner-operators, the average cost can range from $12,000 to even $30,000 per year. In contrast, a well-established owner-operator who has earned the confidence of their insurance carrier might expect an average of $9,000 to $12,000 per year.
What Types of Truck Insurance Are There?
The above estimates comprise the multiple types of insurance that a commercial truck driver requires to operate in compliance with industry and federal regulations. Consider the following types of insurance that you may need to operate a commercial truck and the expected cost of each:
Primary liability is the fundamental part of an insurance policy relating to property damage and bodily injury. If a driver is responsible for harm to another person or a structure, the primary liability policy covers that damage. Federal regulations mandate that all commercial trucks have this type of coverage, and you can expect it to compose the majority of your insurance payments — usually $5,000 to $7,000.
General liability insurance complements your primary liability. It covers a driver or their employer in the event that someone takes them to court because of property or bodily damage. It may also cover accidents that arise secondary to an accident as well as operational mistakes. General liability coverage is a requirement at the state level and costs $500 to $700.
Physical damage coverage relates to damage to a vehicle as a result of occurrences such as natural disasters, extreme weather, theft, vandalism, or collision. The cost usually hinges on the value of the truck and the equipment it carries, but it would be reasonable to expect rates between $1,000 and $3,000.
Bobtail coverage is for instances when a driver operates a commercial truck for non-commercial purposes, such as for personal transport or while off dispatch. Because the operation of the vehicle doesn’t relate to professional activities, it doesn’t fall under the scope of primary liability, general liability, or physical damage. A rate of around $400 for this type of coverage is common.
Other insurance coverages that may factor into your annual rates include:
- Cargo: If any cargo becomes damaged or lost, cargo insurance covers the associated costs.
- Reefer breakdown: This type of coverage relates specifically to drivers of refrigerated trucks.
- Rental reimbursement: This coverage provides you with money to rent a commercial truck while your primary vehicle undergoes repairs.
- Uninsured or underinsured motorist: If you find yourself involved in an accident with a motorist who lacks the appropriate insurance, uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage can provide you with protection.
What Other Factors Affect Truck Insurance Rates?
Insurance companies consider several factors to determine the exact rate you pay to cover a particular commercial truck. These include but aren’t limited to:
The state in which you operate can greatly influence your premiums. This is because states tend to have their own methods for calculating rates, which depend on region-specific considerations such as the average cost of vehicle repair, the cost of medical care, the climate, and even the frequency of vehicle-related litigation.
Generally speaking, drivers who operate over longer distances and spend more time in their trucks pay higher premiums for their auto insurance. The rationale behind this is that long-haul trucking is more tiring, which, compounded with the larger amount of time spent on the road, introduces more opportunities for danger.
Not all commercial trucks are the same. Light-duty trucks are generally easier to control and present less of a risk to others on the road, while heavy-duty trucks are quite the opposite. Moreover, the cost of a truck is often commensurate with its size and capacity, and expensive trucks usually require expensive repairs.
The goods or materials you transport in your truck can significantly increase your insurance rates. Drivers whose trucks contain hazardous contents can expect to pay more since such items present a higher risk. For example, highly flammable materials can produce a greater extent of damage in the event of an accident, and extremely heavy contents can compromise the driver’s ability to control the vehicle.
As with all drivers, a spotless record is likely to get you preferable rates. Even a single violation, such as a speeding ticket, can raise your insurance costs by about a quarter of the original rate, resulting in several hundred additional dollars in payments every year.
Hopefully, with the information you’ve learned here, you have a better understanding of the considerations involved in commercial trucking. Apply this knowledge to ensure that you operate within the regulations while enjoying the rates you’d prefer.
At FIXD, our mission is to make car ownership as simple, easy, and affordable as possible. Our research team utilizes the latest automotive data and insights to create tools and resources that help drivers get peace of mind and save money over the life of their car.