If you’re an owner-operator under permanent lease or contract to a motor carrier, you’re already probably getting general liability cover from them. However, you can benefit from an additional non-trucking liability policy added to your existing cover.
What is non-trucking liability insurance? If you’re using your truck for non-business-related work, Non-Trucking Liability (NTL) cover ensures you get the protection you need while you’re on the road. Your NTL policy kicks in when you’re using your truck on off days for approved tasks and errands.
If you’re involved in an accident away from work duties, NTL helps pay towards your loss of income, medical expenses, and any damage to other people’s property.
However, it’s important to note that this endorsement only changes the liability section of your policy.
What Type of Trucking Insurance Policy Do I Need?
NTL and bobtail insurance are critical policy additions for any trucking company or owner-operator. These policies cover your truck when accidents occur, and you’re using it as a cabin. If you don’t have the correct cover, you could end up paying millions of dollars in damages due to lawsuits initiated by third parties involved in the accident.
Bobtail insurance covers you against all liabilities whether you’re using your truck under dispatch or not. For example, if your driver gets into an accident moving to another terminal, your bobtail policy covers any financial loss.
However, bobtail insurance is a bit more expensive than other policies because it mitigates your exposure risk away from the workplace. When signing a lease with a motor carrier, most owner-operators will insist the motor carrier also provides them with bobtail insurance.
In other settings, owner-operators may demand both general liability and bobtail coverage to reduce their exposure risk.
Restrictions and Exceptions
Non-Trucking Liability policies provide coverage for companies hauling any kind of cargo. Actions like driving to the terminal, fueling the vehicle, traveling to the maintenance yard, dead-heading, and driving during layovers may all fall under business use of the truck. Even washing your vehicle is considered a business activity.
These activities all fall under the general liability policy handed to owner-operators by the motor carrier. However, your NTL policy doesn’t apply when hauling a loaded trailer. It also doesn’t include operating the truck on behalf of the trucking company or using it to generate revenue.
The get cover for these circumstances, you’ll need primary trucking liability insurance. NTL is not available with FHWA (federal/ICC) insurance policies, MCS-90, SR-22, or state filings. It’s important to note that this is only a general coverage description. It is not a replacement or substitute for the policy.
Cover for Physical Damage
Owner-operators driving on a lease with a motor carrier providing primary liability cover need to take physical damage coverage themselves. This policy ensures your truck against damage when you’re involved in an accident.
Typically, motor carriers only provide a primary liability cover for owner-operators. They don’t offer any coverage for physical damage incurred to your truck in the event of an accident.
Bobtail Insurance Is Not Non-Trucking Liability Insurance
A bobtail policy gives you cover when you’re operating your truck without a trailer. For example, you might drop off a load in San Francisco and then head to a depot in LA for your next pickup with a different carrier. Bobtail insurance covers you while you’re transitioning between locations.
Bobtail policies also cover you when you’re driving home from work. Bobtail insurance doesn’t apply as soon as you attach a trailer to your vehicle. Even if the trailer’s empty, the bobtail policy is void while you have it connected to your truck.
What’s the Difference Between Non-Trucking Liability and Bobtail Insurance?
So, what’s the difference between bobtail and NTL insurance? NTL protects the owner or the owner-operator from accident liability anytime the truck is on unofficial business. This policy applies whether the driver is carrying a load or not.
Bobtail insurance protects the owner or owner-operator from liability incurred through an accident without the trailer attached to the vehicle. Whether you’re using the truck for personal or business use, your bobtail policy covers you for any liability.
Trucking insurance laws vary widely across the United States. Ensure the bobtail policy complies with local state laws. Some of the financial risks covered by your bobtail policy include the following.
- The financial risk of lawsuits.
- Medical assistance for any injured parties.
- Payouts for all property damage caused by accidents.
How Can I Save On My Non Trucking Liability Insurance?
The costs of NTL insurance and bobtail insurance vary from provider to provider. It pays to shop around for your policy, comparing pricing and cover from several providers before settling on your preferred insurer.
Several factors contribute to the pricing of your insurance premium. Your experience and number of years behind the wheel make a big difference in your policy costs. Your driver history and credit score also play important roles in determining premium pricing for your insurance policies.
Adjusting your deductibles also helps with lowering your premium cost. Make sure you ask your insurer for an adjustment every year. Each year you spend accident-free adds to your credibility as a driver, reducing your policy costs.
Who Needs Non-Trucking Liability Insurance?
Most motor carriers require owner-operators to take an NTL policy before they sign a lease. This strategy helps the trucking company reduce its liability, protecting them against any lawsuits involving the driver and the truck.
Most carriers also make the owner-operator commit to the NTL to relieve the company of any legal or financial responsibility while the truck driver is operating the vehicle outside their normal scope of work.
Non-Trucking Liability insurance is critical for the following reasons.
- If you drive your truck for non-work-related purposes.
- Your motor carrier demands NTL as part of your lease agreement.
- You want protection against financial and legal liability in the case of an accident.
Non-trucking Liability is not an ideal policy for the following.
- You need insurance to cover your cargo.
- You bobtail without a trailer, or you drive without a trailer and physical damage coverage.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the factors insurers look at when assessing my risk profile?
Your risk profile with insurers consists of the following components.
Your age and driving experience.
How many years you own a commercial truck driving license.
Your past driver history with accidents.
The type and model of truck you drive.
Your credit score.
All these factors play a role. Most notably, your credit score might be an underlying factor you probably didn’t know was contributing to the cost of your insurance premium.
Will insurers work with me if I had an accident in the last three to five years?
Yes, insurers will still cover you if you had an accident in the last three to five years. However, the accident increases your risk profile. Therefore, you can expect insurers to increase your premium costs. If you do get an expensive premium, make sure you call your insurer and ask for a review on your premium cost each year you remain accident-free. Your age and track record as a driver is critical for setting your premium price.
Does my credit score make a difference when applying for insurance?
Many people don’t realize that their credit score affects their insurance premiums. One of the easiest ways to drop your premium cost is by improving your credit score. Make sure you pay your bills on time each month and pay off your credit card in full. Check on your credit score every three months, and call your insurer to ask for a discount when your score gets above 700.