If you work in the trucking industry, you probably know the risk of liability is considerable and, if exposed to it, you could end up with a costly result. This is why it becomes the responsibility of trucking company owners and drivers to assess their exposure to these risks and purchase the necessary insurance coverage.
One of the biggest misunderstandings truck drivers face has to do with bobtail and non-trucking insurance. These two types of policies are quite similar to many extents, which is why some people often get confused when it comes to picking between them. However, they are more complementary to each other rather than similar, so you should have a clear idea of what your needs are before talking to an insurance agent.
Below, we will try to shed some light on the subject and hopefully make you understand the choice you need to make.
What is bobtail insurance?
Basic trucking liability insurance protects the driver from liability if they cause an accident that results in damage or injuries to a third party. However, if a trailer is not attached to the truck at the moment of the accident, basic insurance won’t cover it. This is why you need bobtail insurance.
Bobtail insurance covers the driver whether or not they are actively dispatched on the job, such as those instances in which a driver is leaving one job to travel to another, but only if the truck is not carrying a trailer.
You may think you won’t be driving your truck without a trailer too often, and if you do, the chances of getting into an accident are small as well, so why would you invest in bobtail insurance? Well, think of the times you drop out a load and have to drive to another place to pick up a newly loaded trailer. What if you get unlucky and cause an accident then? Chances are, you will be faced with some significant expenses and maybe even a lawsuit.
This type of insurance is not too expensive anyway, so it won’t put a strain on your financial safety. Drivers usually pay around $30-50 each month for bobtail insurance, which is quite affordable if you come to think of how high the cost of an accident would be. Policies usually cover at least $1 million in damages, which is more than enough to ensure you won’t run into financial trouble.
What is non-trucking liability insurance?
Many truckers use their trucks on their days off as well, but commercial auto insurance will not cover the cost of damages if an accident occurs while you’re running errands or dropping the kids off at school. If you plan to use your truck for personal purposes, you will need non trucking liability insurance to keep you covered in case of an unfortunate event.
Non-trucking liability insurance covers damage to property, potential medical bills if you end up injuring someone in the accident, as well as the cost of repair if your truck needs to be serviced. Keep in mind that your non-trucking policy will only be applied if the accident happens while you are not on the job.
Non-trucking insurance covers the truck even when a trailer is attached to it, provided that the trailer is empty and you are not driving for business purposes. The policy also covers damage to the trailer.
Understanding the difference
As you can tell, those two policies can serve similar purposes in the sense that they protect you when traditional insurance fails. However, there is a huge difference between the two:
Bobtail insurance will cover you whenever you use a truck without the trailer, regardless if you are using it for personal or business purposes. Non-trucking insurance, on the other hand, will protect you when using the truck for personal purposes regardless if you also carry the trailer or not.
Keep in mind that bobtail insurance won’t cover damage done to your truck in case of an accident – it’s called liability insurance after all, so it will cover liabilities that arise from the event, such as:
- Cost of lawsuits if the victim decides to sue
- Hospital bills and treatment costs if a person suffered injuries due to the accident
- Property damage costs if there are any
What type of policy should I choose?
Truck drivers should consider both types of coverage if they want to make sure they are protected no matter what. Accidents can occur at any time, and due to a variety of reasons, so the last thing you want to deal with is a nasty lawsuit and hundreds of thousands of dollars lost to make up for the damage caused.
When you are driving a truck, and you are on the road all day, you risk exposing yourself to a number of hazards. Endless hours of driving can affect concentration, leading to slow reflexes and reaction times. Unfortunately, there is not much you can do about it besides taking lots of precaution measures and making sure you never drive when you are exhausted. Losing control of the truck on the road can cause a massive accident, so it is always best you put safety first.
This is how insurance can help as well. It won’t make you less prone to fatigue, and it won’t keep you focused, but it will give you some peace of mind knowing that, in the eventuality of an accident, your truck, business, and financial safety can be recovered.
Ideally, you should purchase both to make sure you are always protected when behind the wheels. However, if you need to choose, ask yourself the following questions: Will I be using this truck for personal purposes? Are there cases in which you will have to drive the truck without having a trailer attached?
These two questions should make you decide which of the policies presented today to choose or if you should go ahead and purchase both to make sure you are getting the protection you need.