Heavy hauler trucking is in its own class when it comes to insurance. When you’re transporting oversized loads long distances, you need coverage that protects against the unique risks you face. Heavy haul trucks carry loads over the federal limit of 80,000 pounds. When you’re hauling such massive loads, the impact of a collision or other accident can be catastrophic. This is why you need the right level of coverage to ensure you, your cargo and everyone on the road is protected.
Commercial truck insurance requirements are set at both the federal government and the individual states. Federally, all trucks are required to have at least $750,000 in liability coverage. However, the exact limit may be higher based on the weight and type of commodities you’re hauling.
The two most vital types of heavy haul truck insurance are primary liability and cargo insurance. But in reality, these products cover only the basics. Once you’ve protected yourself against third party claims and basic cargo coverage, it is time to explore ways to fill in the remaining gaps.
Protecting Your Rig
The first type of policy you’ll want to explore as a heavy hauler is physical damage insurance. Liability and cargo insurance policies will make third parties whole in the event of an accident. They do nothing to protect your rig or equipment.
Physical damage policies are broken two into two parts: comprehensive and collision. Comprehensive insurance covers you for claims unrelated to vehicular accidents such as fire, theft, vandalism and weather-related incidents. Collision coverage is exactly what it sounds like. Compensation is provided in the event your truck is damaged in an accident involving one or more vehicles.
A strong physical damage insurance policy should also include downtime coverage. If triggered, compensation can be provided for the days your truck is unable to haul. This lessens the financial effects of having to be off the road while you are recovering or your truck is being repaired.
Physical damage insurance for commercial trucks is extremely important, even if it isn’t required by law. More freight brokers are requesting their drivers carry adequate physical damage insurance as the coverage has shown to reduce the likelihood drivers might sue brokers for physical damage to their own trucks.
Additional Coverage Options
Insurance policies are riddled with exclusions and exceptions. These can leave unsuspecting holes in your insurance program and leave you exposed to large financial risks. Although the exclusion of certain coverages may be frustrating, it is a way for insurance companies to reduce premiums and allow truckers to tailor their programs specifically to their needs. This is why it is important to work closely with an independent agent who specializes in the trucking industry.
Debris Removal/Pollution Cleanup
Debris removal can cost thousands of dollars; especially when you’re working with heavy loads. Costs can include the hiring of private tow trucks to move vehicles, reclamation companies to pick up debris, and government invoices for highway remediation. This type of coverage is available as an extension to your existing cargo insurance. For its minimal cost, it should not be overlooked, which would lead to you becoming financially responsible for the aftermath of an accident.
You rely on expensive equipment to secure your freight. Unfortunately, basic physical damage insurance excludes most add-on equipment. The coverage enhancement can go my many different names; ramp, chain, tarp and binder insurance just to name a few. The coverage might be seen advertised as flatbed insurance or designated by its specific cargo type, such as auto hauler insurance or steel hauler insurance. Regardless of the name, unprotected equipment can leave a significant financial dent in your operation if you are left paying for its replacement or repair.
Earned Freight Insurance
If you’re involved in an accident that renders your cargo undeliverable, earned freight insurance can be a lifesaver. This coverage extension kicks in to replace lost income of the freight owner when covered cargo is unable to be delivered. An important limitation of earned freight insurance is the type of cargo it may apply to as it may be more limited in scope than the cargo policy itself. Be sure to review your coverage before taking on a new haul.
Also known as sue and labor coverage, this form of insurance protects you against the costs associated with damaged or undeliverable cargo. The financial burden faced by carriers and shippers when a haul cannot be delivered is extensive. The cost associated with lost or damaged cargo can span far beyond the shipment itself and affects everyone from employees to consumers. Loss mitigation extends coverage to those who are dependent on the safe deliver of the cargo you were hired to haul.
Loading and Unloading Insurance
You might be surprised to find out that many forms of trucking insurance do not cover any damages that transpire while your truck is docked at a terminal. Cargo damage occurring during loading and unloaded is not eligible for coverage by your basic insurance policy.
Although you were technically on the job, you weren’t on the road. As such, you would be deemed ineligible for compensation on your general insurance policy. To counteract this common and unfortunate exclusion, loading and unloading insurance protects you against the cost of damages to heavy haul commodities while they’re being loaded or unloaded from your flatbed, trailer or freight.
Buying the Right Heavy Hauler Insurance
Trucking insurance for heavy haulers is a complicated mix of coverages, exclusions, and endorsements. Having the correct coverage before your next haul is important as the ramifications of having a gap can financially cripple your operation.
Whenever possible, look to work with an independent insurance agent who specializes in the trucking industry. Their expertise will identify and fill in any gaps in your current insurance program. Their access to multiple insurance companies also means they will work for you by having insurers compete for your business. The result; a comprehensive insurance program at the most competitive premium.