Making sense of commercial truck insurance

Finding excellent commercial auto insurance in the Hudson Valley can feel similar to having your teeth pulled, especially when thinking about commercial truck insurance.  Here are the 5 things to keep in mind for a smooth transaction:

1- Cognizances. You’ve got to be mindful of the different kinds of truck insurance.  While there are numerous factors to consider when insuring your truck, commercial vehicle insurance can be broken down into 4 main types:

A- Liability insurance – this is the mandatory insurance which pays for any damage you cause while utilizing your truck.  Driving without this insurance is illegal and may cause heavy penalties.

B- Physical damage coverage – not really a legal requirement, yet this insurance covers your truck against perils like fire, theft, and flood damage.

C- Cargo – this insurance covers the contents you’re carrying. It isn’t really required however some shipping companies will require it.

D- Bobtail insurance – also referred to as non-trucking liability, A term created applying to auto liability insurance for an owner/operator after a load has been delivered while your truck is not being used for trucking purposes.

2- The Basics. The information you’ll need to acquire commercial truck insurance.

Even just getting set up with truck insurance might be a tricky process, though it’ll be a little smoother when you furnish as much information as is feasible. Some insurance companies will give you a quote without having the following information, but they will need proof of this data before you can actually purchase coverage.

A- Your current insurance coverage declarations page.  If you do not possess a business insurance declaration page (no prior coverage), use a current personal auto page instead.

B- Drivers license numbers and basic driving records of all drivers, including all tickets. Your quote will rise exponentially if a driver is later observed to have a worse driving history than previously claimed.

C- VIN numbers (vehicle identification numbers) of each vehicle, including a rundown of safety and security features on each truck.  If you do not have the VIN number handy, just provide the insurance company with as much detail as you can in regards to the vehicle, including the year, make, and model.

If there’s any information you simply can’t find, some companies will provide you with a quote based on your estimations. However, the quote will change when they inevitably determine the facts.

3- The Factors. The key factors affecting commercial vehicle premiums.

To a degree, you possibly can control some of the essential factors which govern your truck’s insurance costs.  The key issues which come into play include:

A- Driving record – how many speeding fines or traffic offenses you or your drivers have incurred over the last few years.

B- Garaging Location – Where your trucks are kept, especially overnight. More dangerous areas may mean higher premiums.

C- Limit of liability insurance required – see below for a rundown of what you need.

  • Kind of and radius of operation.
  • Shipping hardscrabble across the country has a different liability risk factor than shipping televisions from Ulster County NY to Westchester County NY.
  • Age, condition and safety features of the vehicles can also affect the premium.

4- Methodology. Methods used to save money on commercial insurance.

There are a few key do’s and don’ts for saving money on your insurance, but maybe the best recommendation is, to be honest regardless of how tempting it could be to overstate the value of your truck or forget to mention a speeding ticket.  Some truckers even overstate the price of their vehicles hoping that they will get a good deal if anything happened to it.  That is not how insurance works.  Your insurer will discover just how much it would cost to obtain a comparable replacement.  Should you say that your truck is worth more than it is, then you are more likely to over-pay for your coverage.

Get quotes from several insurance companies before you commit to one, and present each of them with the exact same information.

Run a safety program. Ask your insurer for information on how to put one together for your business, and you can save even more.  A written maintenance plan could also save you money simply because the insurance company will know that you are serious about maintaining your vehicles.

Removing comprehensive (fire and theft) coverage from some of your older vehicles can save money as well, especially if the cost of the coverage doesn’t even cover the amount that might be paid out.

How come truck insurance so expensive? In essence, trucks themselves are expensive. Your insurance company is at risk of having to replace your whole rig!  Trucks are big as well, so, in case you do crash into something it will generally do a considerable amount of damage.  Way more than if you were in the average automobile.  Trucks are much more likely to be stolen than cars, partly because they are worth more, and also because they often contain valuable cargo.

5. ICC (Interstate Commerce Commission) authorities and MC (Motor Carrier) numbers.  You will need to get an MC number from your ICC authority before you ship goods across state lines.  In order to obtain one, your bodily injury and property damage insurance coverage will need to meet the prerequisites based on weight and class of your vehicle as well as the loads you’ll be carrying.

For vehicles with a Gross Vehicle Weight rating of 10,001 pounds or higher:

$750,000 for general, nonhazardous commodities.

$1,000,000 for hazardous freight except for class A and class B explosives.

$5,000,000 for class A and class B explosives.

Non-hazardous freight under 10,000 lbs requires a $300,000 minimum.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration website (FMCSA)  is an amazing resource for truckers and features all of the guidelines and advice you could possibly expect and then some!

Hudson Valley Agents has been serving the Hudson Valley’s commercial insurance needs for 28 years. We write long-haul truckers in Maybrook NY, short-haul truckers in Poughkeepsie NY, plumbers in Middletown NY, contractors in Kingston NY, electricians in Rhinebeck NY. If you use your truck or car for your business then you need commercial auto insurance.

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