How Much Does Bobtail Insurance Cost? (2023 Rates)

Thang Truong
Thang Truong
Updated on:

Semi-trucks and trucks are large vehicles that may inflict significant damage to cars, houses, and other people if engaged in an accident. Bobtailing, which is driving a truck without a trailer attached to it, is even considered riskier and harder than driving a full truck. Unlike full trucks, bobtails may be more difficult to stop, steer, or maneuver around curves when the trailer and much of the weight have been removed.

In 2020, there were 248 fatal truck fatalities and 2,534 incidents involving bobtail trucks, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. This data shows that bobtailing may be just as harmful as, if not even more, when the vehicle is loaded. 

Given the difficulties of bobtailing, failing to obtain insurance for this sport can be a costly error, leaving you with millions of dollars in damages and medical claims in the event of an accident. We will discuss bobtail insurance in this article, helping you understand the cost and answering some important questions about it.

How much does bobtail insurance cost?

Fortunately, adding bobtail insurance to your policy is usually simple and inexpensive. Bobtail insurance typically costs between $30 and $50 per month, for a total annual cost of $360 to $600.

The average cost of bobtail insurance will typically provide you with a total limit of $1,000,000, though you can always pay more for more coverage.

Remember that this is just the average, you will get a different quote from different insurance companies, be sure to shop around with a few companies or with a broker like Simply Business, CoverWallet, and to compare several quotes to find the cheapest one for you.

What are the factors that affect bobtail insurance costs?

The above estimates are only average from our market survey. In reality, you may pay more or less for your bobtail insurance depending on the following factors:

Driving experience 

Like general trucking liability insurance, the experience of your drivers affects your bobtail insurance costs. The more experience you have driving trucks, the lower your premium will likely be. Most insurers will prefer that you have drivers that are above 25years with at least 2 years of commercial truck driving experience.

Driving records

Your insurer will also want to see the record of your drivers in their years of driving. Drivers with a reckless driving history are just as dangerous as those with no experience. 

Therefore, your premiums will also increase with every speeding ticket, DOT infraction, and accident your drivers have. There are a million reasons to drive safely, and this is one of them.

Policy limits 

Your policy limit refers to the coverage your insurer is willing to offer you. That is, the maximum amount of money your insurer will pay you if a covered incident happens. Usually, the higher your policy limits, the higher your premium. 

For instance, If you want to be covered for liability costs up to $2 million, you’ll have to pay more than you would for a $1 million policy. 

Your application

In your application, your insurer will be interested in the specifics of your bobtailing. For instance, they might ask how frequently do you bobtail? And how long does the bobtail last on average? The more you bobtail, the more dangerous you are to insure. Therefore, people who bobtail more frequently tend to pay more for bobtail premiums.

Your truck

The value of your truck is also crucial. More expensive trucks will demand higher premiums. For instance, you might pay more for a 2017 Mercedes truck than for a 2005 Volvo truck.   But then, trucks that are too old may cost more. Also, the more trucks you have, the more likely accidents will occur, so you will pay more for more trucks.

Your location 

Your insurer might request the Zip code of your business. The reason is that they want to check the statistics of the area. Trucking businesses in areas where accidents are common may need to pay for their bobtail insurance. If your area is densely populated, you might also pay more.  

Your insurance history

 If you have a history of making claims on previous insurance policies, you will most likely pay more for your bobtail insurance. This is because most insurers believe you will continue to have more claims in future. 

How to save money on bobtail insurance costs?

Bobtail insurance can be a little expensive. However, there are a few things you can do to control the cost of your premium. The following are some of them. 

Purchase bobtail insurance on an annual basis.

Paying for your bobtail insurance annually can be expensive, but it can help you save some cash in the long term. Most insurance companies will offer you 10 or 20% discounts for paying once. This is because paying in one lump sum means you are stuck with them for a year. So, if you find the right company with the right policy, pay at once if you can. 

Shop around for policies 

It’s no secret that some insurance companies have cheaper rates than others. However, the challenge is finding the firm with the best coverage and the lowest cost. When you shop with different agents, you have a better chance of choosing the firm with the best bobtail insurance prices. Also, ensure you thoroughly study your lease agreement to avoid duplicate coverage and ensure no gaps.

Most insurance firms raise their policy rates every year since they know it’s tough for clients to transfer providers and would rather keep with what they’re paying. However, you may save money by shopping around for your bobtail insurance once a year and comparing prices. Unless you already have the best bargain, looking can save you $500 or more.

Be sure to shop around with a few companies or with a broker like Simply Business,, or CoverWallet to compare several quotes to find the cheapest one for you.

Keep a spotless driving record.

Hiring drivers with clean driving records is the greatest approach to keep prices down. This demonstrates that they are accountable, and so the insurance company has a smaller risk in the event of an accident.

Higher deductibles

You may cut your monthly rates by agreeing to a higher deductible when negotiating a price with your agent. However, you will be liable for a larger out-of-pocket expense if an accident occurs. You may be paying a few dollars less per month, but if you have an accident, you may spend more than you would have saved.

Bundle policies 

This coverage is often acquired as a bundle with primary trucking liability insurance. It makes sense to put together various coverages as some insurers might offer you a discount.  

What is a bobtail truck?

Bobtail truck refers to a semi truck when there is no trailer attached to it. If there is no trailer attached to a semi truck, that means the truck driver is not hauling any cargo at that time. This usually happens when a truck driver is on their way to pick up the shipment at the beginning of the shift or they are driving home after dropping off the load and the trailer.

Is bobtail truck the same as deadheading?

It is often confused between these two terms and many people believe they are the same. They are actually different:

  • Bobtail truck is a semi truck without a trailer attached to it
  • Deadheading is driving a truck with a trailer attached to it but the trailer is empty.

What is bobtail insurance and what does it cover?

Bobtail insurance is a type of commercial liability insurance that covers risks associated with operating trailer vehicles that are not equipped with a trailer. This insurance policy pays for third party property damage or bodily harm when you’re bobtailing.

Bobtail insurance provides more extensive coverage asides general trucking liability policy. As the name indicates, this insurance policy applies to trucks and semi-trucks operating in bobtail mode. Like non-trucking liability insurance, the policy covers you when you use trucks for personal purposes. However, it only applies when you do not have a trailer attached to your truck. 

Bobtail insurance is often only available for cargo trucks. However, some customers buy the coverage on their farm tractors, commercial tractors, food trucks, dump trucks, etc. 

Is bobtail insurance the same as non-trucking liability insurance?

They are actually different. Below are the details of these two coverages and how they are different:

  • Bobtail insurance covers you when you are driving your semi truck with a trailer attached to it and get involved in an accident.
  • Non-trucking liability insurance covers you when you are driving your trucks for personal purposes, or during non-working hours, regardless if a trailer is attached to your truck or not.

Learn more about these two coverages and which coverage you would need.

Who needs bobtail insurance?

There are various reasons why you could need bobtail insurance. The first is whether or not your motor carrier requires it. In many circumstances, you’ll need to have bobtail insurance.

  • If you drive under your own authority, you will need it
  • If you are a owner operator and lease on to a motor carrier, they usually provide you with trucking primary liability coverage. But you still need to have bobtail coverage to protect you when you drive without a trailer attached to you own truck yet.

The only scenario that you don’t likely need bobtail insurance is when you are a truck driver and work full-time for a motor carrier. In this case, the motor carrier likely provides you with all coverages that you need, but you should double check with them.

In general, you’ll want bobtail insurance if: 

  • You occasionally drive your semi-truck without a trailer; and
  • Your motor carrier requires it; 
  • You don’t have the funds to cover damages, legal fees, and other costs if involved in an accident.

If you only drive your truck without a trailer (or an empty trailer) on personal travels, bobtail insurance isn’t for you. Instead, you’ll require non-trucking liability insurance. Learn more about the differences between bobtail insurance and non-trucking liability insurance.

What does bobtail insurance not cover?

Bobtail insurance covers just liability and cannot be used to cover physical damage to your truck. Instead, it is used to cover damages to other cars and injury to other individuals in incidents in which you are found to be at fault. If you need to have physical damage for your truck, you need to have trucking physical damage insurance. Learn more at the best trucking physical damage insurance companies.

Here are a few instances that bobtail insurance might cover:

  • On your way home after your last load, you collided with a light pole on the side of the road while driving. Your bobtail will cover the expenses of repairing the light post.
  • You get into a car accident on your way to pick up the third cargo after dropping the second one. Your bobtail will cover the damages since your trailer was empty at the time of the accident.

Also, here are a few instances that bobtail insurance might not cover:

  • You have delivered your load, but the customer rejected half of the cargo. On your way back, you are involved in an accident. Your bobtail insurance will not cover this because you still have cargo in your trailer.

Bobtail insurance companies 

Bobtail insurance helps you fill the liability gaps your trucking insurance may not cover. However, finding low-cost bobtail insurance and specific coverage requirements for your commercial vehicle trucks can be challenging. Here are our recommendation of the best companies providing bobtail insurance.

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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