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If you are a truck owner-operator or own a motor carrier company, it’s important to ensure that you are covered for all liabilities that could arise from trucking operations. While motor carrier coverage or commercial auto policies cover many common sources of liability, coverage gaps arise when trucks are driven for personal reasons or without a trailer. Bobtail Insurance and Non-Trucking Liability Insurance are two types of insurance that can help fill those coverage gaps, providing essential financial protection.
What is Bobtail and Non-Trucking Liability Insurance?
Bobtail Insurance and Non-Trucking Liability Insurance are often referred to as if they are interchangeable, but there are key differences between the coverage these policies provide.
Bobtail Insurance is a liability policy specifically designed for situations where a truck driver causes an accident while driving a truck without a trailer (known as bobtailing). If an incident occurs after a truck owner-operator has dropped off cargo and is traveling to another location or driving home without a trailer, this insurance would cover medical fees, legal expenses, and settlements. Bobtail Insurance covers third-party bodily injury and property damage, but it does not cover any damage that occurs to the truck itself.
Bobtail Insurance provides coverage regardless of whether the truck was being driven without a trailer for business reasons (such as traveling to pick up a load) or was being driven for personal reasons. However, if a trailer was attached, Bobtail Insurance will not provide coverage.
- While driving to a shipping center to have a trailer attached, you skid on ice and rear-end the car in front of you. Bobtail Insurance would cover damages to the other car and medical bills for injured occupants.
Non-Trucking Liability Insurance is a liability policy that provides coverage if an accident happens while you are driving a truck for non-business purposes. Auto liability coverage typically only covers incidents that occur while you’re driving for work purposes. Many truck owner-operators may use their trucks for personal reasons, such as running errands; Non-Trucking Liability Insurance can provide coverage in these situations.
Unlike Bobtail Insurance, Non-Trucking Liability Insurance typically provides coverage regardless of whether a truck has a trailer or cargo. If you’re on a personal errand and you get into an accident while driving your truck with a trailer attached, Non-Trucking Liability Insurance will still provide coverage. It’s important to read your policy carefully to verify whether coverage applies when you do not have a trailer.
- One of your truckers dropped off goods in Pittsburgh and is returning to his home base in Tallahassee. He takes a detour to visit a friend on the way but causes an accident when he runs a red light and hits a car in an intersection. Non-Trucking Liability Insurance would cover the resulting damage to the car and medical bills for the other driver.
Generally, motor carrier coverage is expected to provide coverage for all business-related trips, which may include driving to the dispatch center, picking up cargo, driving to the destination, and returning home. Necessary trips such as for repairs, maintenance, or refueling may also be covered by primary liability policies. Non-Trucking Liability Insurance provides coverage for trips outside these situations when the truck is not under dispatch.
Why is Bobtail Insurance or Non-Trucking Liability Insurance important?
If you are a truck owner-operator, most carriers you work with will require you to have Bobtail Insurance or Non-Trucking Liability Insurance. Generally, Non-Trucking Liability policies are more common, but you will need to verify which coverage the carrier requires to make sure you are appropriately insured.
It’s wise to consider purchasing this coverage even if your lease agreement does not require it. If you are involved in an accident and your motor carrier’s insurance will not handle the claim, you could be forced to pay costs for property damage or bodily injury, which can be extremely expensive. Bobtail Insurance and Non-Trucking Liability Insurance can both provide financial protection from these claims.
If you are a motor carrier that works with independent truckers, it’s wise to require truckers to purchase Bobtail Insurance or Non-Trucking Liability Insurance because it lessens the financial risks of drivers causing accidents while they are off the clock and not working for you. Requiring truckers to have this coverage can help you reduce the number of claims on your primary liability policy.
What is not covered by Bobtail Insurance or Non-Trucking Liability Insurance?
Both Bobtail Insurance and Non-Trucking Liability Insurance are designed to cover third-party bodily injury, property damage, as well as legal fees related to third-party claims. These insurance policies will not cover:
- Damage to your own truck, trailer, or cargo
- Injury to the truck’s driver or passengers
- Damage caused by natural disasters
How can I purchase Bobtail Insurance or Non-Trucking Liability Insurance?
Bobtail and Non-Trucking Liability policies are commonly added as an endorsement on a commercial auto policy or other commercial trucking policy. They can also be purchased separately. Insurers may require proof that you have primary liability insurance with your carrier before approving you for Bobtail or Non-Trucking Liability Insurance.
How is Bobtail Insurance and Non-Trucking Liability priced?
Insurers will review your driving record, claims history, lease agreements, and desired limits. Bobtail Insurance policies will consider how often you drive without a trailer, while Non-Trucking Liability policies will take into account how frequently the truck is used for personal business.
In general, Bobtail Insurance tends to be more expensive because of its broader coverage. Non-Trucking Liability Insurance offers more limited coverage, resulting in lower premium costs.
When you work in the trucking industry, it’s critical that you maintain coverage for the liabilities you could face in the event of an accident. Trucks can cause serious damage, leading to major medical bills and expensive repairs. For owner-operators of trucks who may use their truck for personal activities or drive without a trailer, there is a gap in coverage, as motor carrier policies will not cover these situations. Bobtail Insurance and Non-Trucking Liability Insurance are two key ways to fill this gap, providing financial protection for incidents of third-party bodily injury or property damage when they occur while the driver is not working or is driving without a trailer.