Hot Shot Trucking Starter Kit (Update 2023)

Thang Truong
Thang Truong
Updated on:

Hot shot trucking, an industry sector known for quick and direct deliveries, is gaining popularity in today’s fast-paced economy. Having a comprehensive starter kit is essential to getting your hot shot business off the ground. This article will guide you through the basics of hot shot trucking and equip you with the necessary tools to launch your own venture.

Choosing the right vehicle for your hot shot trucking business 

Your choice of vehicle is one of the most critical decisions you’ll make in your hot shot trucking business. If you don’t have a CDL, the best trucks for your needs are likely to be lighter, non-commercial vehicles. Consider the Dodge Ram 3500, Ford F-450, Chevrolet Silverado 3500, GMC Sierra 3500, or the Ford F-350.

here are some recommendations on the best trucks for hot shot trucking, both for non-CDL and CDL options:

The best trucks for hot shot truckers without CDL

  1. Dodge Ram 3500 – Best for Fuel Efficiency: The Ram 3500, equipped with a 6.7L Cummins Turbo Diesel I6 engine, is known for its superior fuel efficiency, which can help reduce operating costs in the long run.
  2. Ford F-450 – Best for Payload Capacity: The Ford F-450 boasts a high payload capacity with its 6.7L Power Stroke V8 Turbo Diesel engine, making it an excellent option for carrying heavier loads.
  3. Chevrolet Silverado 3500 – Best for Durability: With a 6.6L Duramax V8 Turbo-Diesel engine, the Chevy Silverado 3500 is a robust and durable truck that’s built to withstand rigorous hot shot trucking demands.
  4. GMC Sierra 3500 – Best for Towing Capacity: With a 6.6L Duramax Turbo Diesel engine, the GMC Sierra 3500 has a high towing capacity, making it a versatile choice for various load types.
  5. Ford F-350 – Best for Comfort: The Ford F-350, equipped with a 6.7L Power Stroke V8 Turbo Diesel, offers an incredibly comfortable ride and is known for its high-quality, driver-friendly interior.

The best trucks for hot shot trucking drivers with a CDL

If you do possess a CDL, you have a broader range of options. Top picks for hot shot truckers with a CDL include the Ford F-650, Chevrolet Silverado 6500 HD, GMC TopKick C5500, Freightliner M2 106, and the International CV Series.

  1. Freightliner M2 106 – Best for Versatility: This medium-duty truck offers great versatility, featuring a wide range of potential configurations and a Cummins L9 engine. It’s built to suit just about any hot shot task.
  2. International LT Series – Best for Fuel Efficiency: The LT Series offers superior fuel efficiency with its Cummins X15 engine, which can help lower operating costs.
  3. Kenworth T680 – Best for Comfort: Known for its spacious, well-equipped cab and PACCAR MX-13 engine, the T680 prioritizes driver comfort, which can be especially beneficial for long-haul trips.
  4. Peterbilt 579 – Best for Durability: Featuring a PACCAR MX-13 engine, the 579 is built to last, with robust components and a reputation for withstanding demanding trucking conditions.
  5. Volvo VNL Series – Best for Safety Features: Known for its advanced safety features and D13 Turbo Compound engine, the VNL Series can help ensure the safety of your hot shot trucking operations.

Please note that specifications may vary depending on the model year and configuration of the truck. Always consult with a knowledgeable dealer or expert to ensure the truck meets your specific requirements.

Learn more how to start a hot shot trucking business

Essential equipment and items for hot shot trucking

You’ll need more than just a truck to get your hot shot business rolling. Here are ten essential pieces of equipment to include in your starter kit:

  1. Durable and adjustable straps for securing loads
  2. Chains for heavy-duty hauling tasks
  3. Tarps of various sizes to protect your cargo from the elements
  4. Winch and winch bar to help secure your cargo
  5. Ratchet binders for added load security
  6. Safety gear including reflective vests, gloves, and safety glasses
  7. Toolbox filled with basic hand tools for quick repairs on the road
  8. High-quality GPS for efficient route planning
  9. A reliable mobile phone and charger for constant communication
  10. A fire extinguisher for safety compliance

Obtaining the necessary licenses and certifications

To start your hot shot trucking business, you’ll need a valid Class D license or a CDL, depending on the weight of the trucks and loads you plan to haul. You will also need to obtain a medical card to certify that you’re physically fit to drive.

 You don’t necessarily need a CDL to start your hot shot trucking business. Learn more about non-CDL hot shot trucking requirements.

Registering your hot shot trucking business

Once you have your licenses and medical card, it’s time to make your business official. You’ll need to register your business with your state’s Secretary of State and get an MC (Motor Carrier) number, which is your authority to operate as a trucking company.

Hot shot trucking insurance requirements

Hot shot trucking insurance is a non-negotiable requirement. You’ll need primary liability insurance, cargo insurance, and possibly other types like physical damage, non-trucking liability, or general liability insurance, depending on your business operations. The minimum limit for liability insurance is typically $750,000, but many brokers require $1 million. 

Below are the details of these coverage for your hot shot trucking business: 

Primary liability insurance

Trucking liability insurance is a federally mandated requirement for all commercial trucking operations. It covers bodily injuries and property damage caused by your truck in an accident. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) requires a minimum of $750,000 in coverage, but $1 million is often recommended, particularly if you cross state lines.

Physical damage insurance

Trucking physical damage insurance covers damages to your own vehicle, whether it’s due to an accident, theft, vandalism, or natural disaster. While not legally required, it’s highly recommended if you’ve invested significantly in your truck or are still paying it off.

Truck cargo insurance

Truck cargo insurance covers the freight or commodity that you’re hauling in case it’s damaged or lost. Specific requirements can vary depending on the freight broker or shipper you’re working with.

Non-trucking liability insurance

Sometimes called bobtail insurance, non-trucking liability insurance provides coverage when your truck is not under dispatch. It covers damages or injuries you may cause while using your truck for personal or non-business related reasons.

Trucking general liability insurance

Trucking general liability provides broad coverage for other potential risks, including “slip and fall” accidents at your place of business, slander, or false advertising claims.

The exact cost and requirements for hot shot trucking insurance can vary widely depending on your location, your specific operations, the value of your equipment, your driving history, and the exact types and amounts of coverage you choose. Always work with a reputable insurance agent to ensure you’re adequately covered.

Load boards for hot shot trucking

To keep your business running, you’ll need to secure jobs regularly. Load boards can be a valuable resource for finding loads. Consider signing up for the following load boards: 

1. DAT Load Board: Best for finding a large variety of loads.

DAT is one of the biggest and most trusted load boards in the industry. It offers a vast selection of loads, which makes it great for finding hot shot loads. DAT is particularly noted for its vast user base, which often translates into a greater variety of load types, sizes, and destinations.

2. Best for user-friendly interface and excellent customer service. is another highly popular load board that’s known for its easy-to-use interface and excellent customer service. It also has a variety of features such as fuel discounts and a mobile app that makes it easy to find loads on the go.

3. Direct Freight: Best for comprehensive service with additional features for support.

Direct Freight provides a comprehensive load board along with additional tools like credit reports, route planning, and weather reports. The wide range of features can be a significant advantage, especially for new drivers looking for additional support.

4. 123Loadboard: Best for budget-conscious truckers who still want a high-quality service.

123Loadboard is another reliable option, known for its affordability and good mobile app. The load board also provides free freight matching and includes handy features like mileage calculators, route planning, and credit information on shippers and brokers.

5. uShip: Best for new hot shot truckers looking to establish relationships.

uShip is a bit different from traditional load boards. It’s an online marketplace where shippers and carriers can connect directly. This can be a good option for hot shot truckers who are just starting out and looking to establish relationships with shippers.

Each load board has its own strengths, and it might be beneficial to use more than one to maximize your load opportunities and find the best deals. It’s also important to note that while some load boards are free, many of the best ones require a subscription. It’s essential to factor this cost into your overall business expenses.

How much does it cost to start a hot shot trucking business? 

Starting a hot shot trucking business requires significant upfront investment. Costs can range from $30,000 to $80,000, depending on factors like the type of truck you purchase, the equipment you need, licensing and insurance costs, and operational expenses. Learn more at our comprehensive guide of hot shot trucking startup cost

The startup costs for a hot shot trucking business can vary greatly depending on various factors such as the type of truck you purchase, the equipment you need, insurance costs, and more. Here’s a breakdown of some potential costs:

1. Truck

This will likely be your most significant upfront cost. The type of truck you’ll need will depend on the loads you plan to carry. If you’re planning to haul lighter loads and you don’t have a CDL, you might be looking at a heavy-duty pickup truck, which can range from $30,000 to $60,000 for a new model. On the other hand, if you have a CDL and plan to haul heavier loads, you might need a larger truck, which could cost $40,000 to $80,000 new. Of course, you can save a lot of money by purchasing used equipment.

2. Trailer

In addition to your truck, you’ll need a trailer suitable for hot shot trucking. The cost of a trailer can vary greatly depending on its size and capabilities. Expect to spend anywhere from $2,000 for a basic used trailer to over $20,000 for a new, larger, or specialized trailer.

3. Insurance

As I mentioned earlier, you’ll need to secure commercial auto insurance as well as cargo insurance for your hot shot trucking business. The cost can vary based on various factors like your driving history, your equipment, and the area you’ll be servicing. Expect to spend anywhere from $6,000 to $12,000 per year on insurance.

4. Operating authority

To operate as a hot shot trucker, you’ll need to secure your MC and USDOT numbers from the FMCSA, which currently cost $300. Remember that some states may also require you to have intrastate operating authority, which may involve additional costs.

5. Equipment

You’ll also need to invest in essential hot shot trucking equipment, like chains, straps, tarps, wide load signs, and more. The cost for this can vary but expect to spend around $1,000 to $3,000 to start.

6. Hot shot trucking insurance

The average cost of hot shot trucking insurance is $7,500 a year. Most hot shot truckers pay between 6,000 to $12,000 a year for their comprehensive hot shot trucking insurance policy.

Keep in mind that these are just the averages. Your rates will be different. Be sure to work with a few companies or with a top broker like Simply Business to compare several quotes to find the cheapest one for your business.

7. Miscellaneous Costs

These can include costs for office equipment, accounting software, a business phone, marketing, and more. It’s hard to put a number on these costs since they can vary so much depending on your specific circumstances, but it’s safe to say you should budget at least $2,000 to $4,000.

Adding all these together, a rough estimate for the startup costs for a hot shot trucking business could range from $40,000 to over $100,000. However, keep in mind that these are only estimates, and your actual costs could be higher or lower depending on various factors. You should also budget for ongoing costs such as fuel, maintenance, and load board subscriptions.

Final checklist: everything you need in your hot shot trucking starter kit

To wrap up, here is a summary of everything you should have in your hot shot trucking starter kit:

  • The right truck for your needs (with or without a CDL)
  • Essential equipment including durable straps, chains, tarps, winch and winch bar, ratchet binders, and safety gear
  • Toolbox with essential hand tools
  • A high-quality GPS and a reliable mobile phone
  • A fire extinguisher for safety
  • A valid Class D license or a CDL, as applicable
  • A medical card certifying your fitness to drive
  • Your business registered with your state and an MC number
  • Appropriate insurance for your operations
  • Accounts with load boards to secure jobs


1. What’s the best truck for hot shot trucking if I don’t have a CDL?

If you don’t have a CDL, lighter, non-commercial vehicles like the Dodge Ram 3500, Ford F-450, Chevrolet Silverado 3500, GMC Sierra 3500, or the Ford F-350 are suitable choices.

2. What are the essential equipment items I need to start a hot shot trucking business?

You’ll need durable and adjustable straps, chains, tarps, a winch and winch bar, ratchet binders, safety gear, a toolbox with essential hand tools, a high-quality GPS, a reliable mobile phone, and a fire extinguisher.

3. What licenses and certifications do I need to start a hot shot trucking business?

You’ll need a valid Class D license or a CDL and a medical card. Additionally, you need to register your business with your state and obtain an MC number.

4. What insurance do I need for hot shot trucking?

Primary liability insurance is mandatory. Depending on your business operations, you may also need cargo insurance, physical damage insurance, non-trucking liability insurance, or general liability insurance.

5. How can I find loads for my hot shot trucking business?

Load boards like DAT,, 123Loadboard, Uber Freight, and LoadBoard can be valuable resources for finding loads.

6. How much does it cost to start a hot shot trucking business?

The startup costs can range from $10,000 to $50,000, depending on factors like the truck and equipment you purchase, licensing and insurance costs, and operational expenses.

Thang Truong

Thang Truong covers small business insurance and small business success at BravoPolicy. He is a licensed P&C insurance agent. Previously, he held product leadership positions at, Capital One, NerdWallet, and Mulberry Technology. He holds a MBA degree from UC Berkeley - Haas School of Business.

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