Truckers face many risks on the road, from inclement weather to damaged cargo and collisions with other vehicles. One risk that many drivers need to think about is what happens if they are in an accident that their standard trucking insurance auto protection does not cover.
Commercial auto insurance can be comprehensive, but it does not cover certain situations—such as when a truck operates without a trailer. This is where bobtail insurance comes in.
Here is an overview of bobtail insurance for truckers, including what this coverage entails, how much it costs, and how it interacts with other types of trucking protection.
What Is Bobtailing?
The term “bobtailing” refers to a truck operating without a trailer attached. To qualify as a bobtail, the truck must have no load at all—no reefer, trailer, or anything else. Most commonly, this occurs when a truck is on the way to pick up cargo before a trip or between journeys.
Drivers may also operate bobtails when returning after their final delivery of the day. If an accident occurs during this time, most standard auto insurance will not cover liability related to accidents or damage caused by the truck. Motor carrier protection will still likely cover damage to the truck, even when driving a bobtail.
What Bobtail Insurance Covers
Bobtail insurance covers two primary areas: damage to others and property damage. Suppose you are on your way to pick up cargo and are involved in a collision with another driver who goes to the hospital. In that case, bobtail coverage can handle your liability.
You would not be responsible for the compensation owed to that party for their medical expenses and any damage to their vehicle.
Bobtail insurance would also come into effect if your truck veers off the road during an ice storm and runs into the façade of a building. This property damage is covered so long as your truck was not hauling a trailer.
Bobtail insurance does not protect you in between deliveries if you do not deliver your entire cargo. For instance, if you are in an accident and still have half of your cargo for the next delivery, bobtail insurance would not apply. Instead, you would need to rely on your standard trucking coverage.
How Much Bobtail Insurance Costs
Insurers will examine multiple factors to determine the cost of your bobtail insurance, including past driving incidents, the frequency at which you drive a bobtail, and the protection limit you desire.
Most trucking companies opt for bobtail coverage of $1 million in liability, often costing around $400 annually. This number may vary depending on your specific risks and use case.
Those with few or no traffic incidents on their records can see lower costs for bobtail insurance. Similarly, drivers who have participated in continuing education programs related to the operation of large vehicles are considered lower risk.
People with years of experience are also lower risk, and companies that do not have a history of regularly making insurance claims may also see reduced premiums.
Is Bobtail the Same as Non-Trucking Liability?
Because non-trucking liability insurance also covers a truck not carrying a load, many confuse this protection with bobtail insurance. However, there is an important distinction that will determine which type of coverage you select.
Bobtail coverage refers specifically to driving the truck without a trailer during company time, such as between deliveries.
On the other hand, non-trucking liability insurance protects your rig when you are operating the truck free of cargo during your time. This may include running personal errands or transporting family and friends in the truck.
Most trucking companies will elect to have both types of coverage. However, this depends on how often trucks are used without an attached trailer and in what contexts this type of driving occurs.
Be sure to check with your insurer to understand which type of policy would cover common errands, such as taking the truck to a mechanic, if you do not have a repair service attached as part of your company.
Get Comprehensive Trucking Coverage from Industry Experts
Trucking insurance is essential for any business that relies on commercial trucks to carry and pick up cargo. However, even if you only drive bobtails occasionally, the low cost for this type of policy is worth the expense for most trucking companies.
The experts at Burton & Company can help you examine how bobtail insurance fits into an overarching comprehensive insurance plan. Contact Burton & Company to create the ideal blend of protections for your trucking enterprise.