What Does Trucking Liability Insurance Cover? Who Needs It?

Thang Truong
Thang Truong
Updated on:

For trucking businesses, risks aren’t limited to those related to driving a truck and hauling goods. They also face the same risks as other small businesses do, including customer injuries and damages to other people’s property. 

Trucking liability insurance include trucking primary liability and trucking general liability insurance. These two coverages protect trucking companies against the risks truckers face on the road along with those associated with operating a business.  

This article will explain what you need to know about these two coverages and how to get the trucking liability protection you need and deserve.

What is trucking liability insurance?

Trucking liability insurance is just a short form referring to different kinds of liability coverages that a trucking business would need. This often includes both trucking primary liability and trucking general liability coverage.

What does trucking primary liability insurance cover?

Trucking primary liability insurance (often shortened to commercial truck insurance) covers damage to other people’s vehicles and other types of property if you’re involved in an accident while driving a truck for business purposes. It also covers injuries sustained by other people in an accident. Primary liability covers the same types of things other forms of vehicle insurance cover.

Learn more about trucking primary liability coverage in this article: commercial truck insurance: cost and coverage.

What does trucking general liability insurance cover?

Trucking general liability policy provides liability coverage related to:

  • Non-employee injuries that happen on your business property 
  • Damage to other people’s property that occurs when conducting business
  • Copyright infringement and other advertising-related issues.

Some examples of situations that could be covered include:

  • Customers slipping or falling on your business premises
  • A delivery mistake that results in product damage
  • Damage a driver causes while driving for an insured company on other people’s property, such as loading docks, truck stops, and warehouses
  • Marketing errors
  • Fire on a short-term rental property caused by an insured person or business.

Learn more at the best trucking general liability insurance companies.

What coverage does general liability insurance provide for trucking companies?

General liability typically covers three different things:

1. Customer injuries

If a customer or delivery person slips and falls in your garage, warehouse or other business location, they could sue you to pay their medical bills, for damages and to cover the cost of hiring an attorney. 

General liability insurance pays for:

  • Medical expenses
  • Attorney’s fees
  • Court-ordered judgments
  • Funeral expenses in fatal incidents

Be aware: General liability insurance does not cover employee injuries that happen in the workplace. You’ll need workers’ compensation insurance for that.

2. Damage to customer property

If a trucker damages a client’s expensive piece of computer equipment when making a delivery, your general liability policy could help pay for the cost of repairing or replacing it.

An essential protection provided by general liability insurance is to pay to repair or replace other people’s property that’s damaged while you or someone who works for you is making a delivery. Anyone working in trucking knows how easy it is to drop something or bump into it, which often results in breakage and other property damage. If the damage is costly enough, it could force a trucking business to close down if they have to pay for repairs or replacements out-of-pocket.

While promoting your business and its trucking services, you could be vulnerable to advertising-related lawsuits. Accidental advertising mistakes, such as inadvertently copying a competitor’s logo or improperly using a photo, are covered by general liability insurance. This includes:

  • Defamation, both written (libel) and spoken (slander)
  • Copyright infringement.

Are there any limitations to truckers general liability coverage?

Trucker general liability insurance is only available to cover for-hire trucking risks. That is if you’re exclusively hauling property or goods that you don’t own for a fee. If you operate a business in addition to for-hire trucking, you are ineligible for trucker’s general liability. Also, this insurance is not available for fleet policies. Drivers covered by it are typically limited to a short driving radius. 

Are trucking primary and general liability insurance required?

Your state will require you to get a set level of primary liability insurance to operate a truck in it. If you cross state lines, your coverage will be dictated by federal regulations. 

If you lease business property, it’s likely your landlord will require that you get general liability protection. Otherwise, it’s optional. However, it’s a good idea to have it to protect your business against the costs of personal injuries or property damage if something unexpected happens.

How much does trucking liability insurance cost?

Trucking primary liability insurance is the most expensive coverage in commercial truck insurance. The average cost of trucking primary liability insurance is $750 a month. Learn more at how much commercial truck insurance costs

The average cost of trucking general liability insurance is $125 a month. Learn more at trucking general liability insurance cost.

These are just the averages. Your quotes will be different. Be sure to shop around with a few companies or work with a broker like Simply Business, CoverWallet, commercialinsurance.net, and Smart Financial to find the cheapest one for your company.

Who needs trucking liability insurance?

If you drive a truck, you must have trucking primary liability insurance. This coverage is required by laws in all states and federal regulations.

If you an owner operator who lease on with a motor carrier, it is likely that your motor carrier already has a trucking general liability policy. You need to confirm with them on the coverage and if you have been or can be added as an additional insured on the policy.

If you are an owner operator who drive on your own authority, you need to consider if we should have this coverage. It is always a good idea to get yourself and your business protected.

If you run a trucking company and rent a work station, you may be required to have trucking general liability insurance. Even if you aren’t, it is highly advisable that you should have this coverage.

What other insurance coverages do trucking businesses typically get?

Some other common coverages include:

Business property insurance

This insurance provides protection if your business location is damaged by a fire, natural disaster, or weather event. It also covers burglaries and vandalism of your business property.

Trucking physical damage protection

Trucking physical damage coverage pays for damage to your truck caused by things like a natural disaster, collision, vandalism, and theft. Learn more at the best trucking physical damage insurance companies.

Bobtail insurance

Bobtail insurance covers a truck when it’s not hauling a load, and there’s no trailer attached, such as when traveling between jobs. Learn more at the best bobtail insurance companies and how much bobtail insurance costs

Some people are confused between bobtail insurance and non-trucking liability insurance. They are similar yet have subtle differences. Bobtail insurance only covers you when you drive your truck without a trailer attached to it. Learn more about the differences between these two coverages here.

Trucking umbrella insurance

Umbrella insurance provides protection above and beyond your regular insurance coverage limits, such as when you have a very bad accident that causes extremely serious or expensive property damage. Learn more at the best trucking umbrella insurance companies.

Cargo truck coverage

Cargo truck coverage pays for damages or losses related to the cargo you haul. The price varies depending on the value, perishability, and amount of things you transport. Learn more at the best motor truck cargo insurance companies.

Underinsured motor coverage

If you’re involved in an accident with another driver who is found to be at fault, and they have no or too little insurance protection, underinsured motorist coverage will pay for damages the other driver is unable to cover.  

Business interruption insurance

Covers a portion of income lost because you’re unable to conduct business because of a covered loss.

Workers’ compensation insurance

If you have employees, your state will likely require you to get workers’ compensation insurance. It provides benefits to workers who are injured or become ill for job-related reasons, including medical care, short- and long-term disability payments, job retraining if they can’t return to trucking because of the injury or illness, funeral costs for employees who die on the job, along with payments to their immediate beneficiaries.

If you hire you drivers as independent contractors, you can choose to provide them with occupational accident insurance. It provides similar benefits like workers comp insurance, but less comprehensive, thus cheaper.

What’s the easiest way to get trucker primary and general liability coverage?

If your trucking company owns a small office or other property, you may be able to bundle general liability with commercial property insurance in a business owner’s policy (BOP). A BOP almost always costs less than purchasing each policy separately. A trucking business usually qualifies for a BOP if it:

  • Has fewer than 100 employees
  • Owns a business property
  • Makes less than $1 million in annual revenue
  • Operates in a relatively low-risk industry
  • Needs less than 12 months of business interruption insurance.

Another benefit of purchasing trucker general liability coverage through a BOP is that it makes it easy to add other types of insurance protection if you need. You may even be able to qualify for discounts if you bundle coverages under a BOP.

You have to get trucking primary liability insurance separately. Working with a trucking insurance agency like Simply Business, CoverWallet, commercialinsurance.net, or Smart Financial is a good way to get the right coverages and compare several quotes easily to choose the cheapest one.

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 realtor.com, Capital One, NerdWallet, and Mulberry Technology. He holds a MBA degree from UC Berkeley - Haas School of Business.

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