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Interstate Commercial Truck Insurance: Coverage and Requirements

Once your trucking company decides to operate across state lines, your company is considered interstate. That means you’ll have to deal with various regulations, agency oversight, and commercial trucking insurance needs that differ from working in a single state. Each state has its own requirements in regard to laws, policies, and truck insurance costs.

Luckily, you don’t have to worry about each and every state you may pass through on a route. Interstate truckers can look to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to understand interstate commercial truck insurance requirements.

Whether you already operate across your state’s lines or are looking into joining the interstate industry, here is what you need to know about getting the best commercial truck insurance for interstate trucking:

What is the Difference Between Intrastate and Interstate?

If you are a commercial truck driver in the United States, you will fall into one of two categories: interstate or intrastate. The former is when your routes keep you in a single state, while the latter means you operate in at least two or more states. Your particular market niche will define whether you need to cross state lines.

The significant difference between intrastate and interstate trucking involves the regulations. Intrastate regulations are defined by the state in which the trucking company operates. While most states have similar commercial truck insurance requirements, there are some allowed variances: medical qualifications, age limits, maximum hours on the road, etc.

Interstate regulations fall under the FMCSA and federal agencies dealing with Hazardous Material Regulations. This organization falls under the U.S. Department of Transportation. Interstate truckers are subject to a variety of additional or higher fees than intrastate drivers. Interstate truck operations must also have a U.S. Department of Transportation number (DOT Number) if it weighs more than 10,000 lbs, transports nine or more people, or contains hazardous material.

Regardless of whether a truck driver operates intrastate or interstate, they must possess a commercial driver’s license (CDL) from the state where they live in. Each state has its own CDL requirements, but drivers typically have to pass a variety of tests. They are additional tests and requirements for drivers who plan to carry hazardous materials, transport passengers, tow double trailers, or drive a tanker.

What Kinds of Commercial Truck Insurance Do Interstate Truckers Need?

The FMCSA only requires that interstate truckers have an appropriate amount of liability coverage. These are:

Public Liability Insurance 

Crucial for interstate truckers since it protects them from accidents where the trucker is at fault. Even a one-time accident could result in a massive financial setback.

Bodily Injury and Property Damage Insurance 

Bodily Injury insurance pays hospital bills for other motorists or pedestrians who are injured while Property Damage insurance pays for repairs for other people’s property damaged in an accident. At a minimum, the FMCSA requires a public liability plan that includes bodily injury and property damage coverage.

Beyond the Minimum

While not required, it’s often wise to consider additional types of commercial trucking insurance to protect your business. These policies will vary greatly depending on the kinds of cargo you hail and where you haul it.

Cargo Insurance 

Covers the goods you haul in your trailer. It protects you against damages caused by theft, vandalism, and natural disasters. Many for-hire interstate truckers are required to have this kind of policy before they are hired. Most shippers require at least $100,000 in cargo insurance, but that amount will change depending on the cargo.

Bobtail Insurance 

Covers your truck when it’s not on dispatch but is on the road. If, for example, you use your truck for personal business, your regular trucking insurance won’t apply to any accidents caused during this time. If you lease your truck, your contract will specify if you need this kind of insurance or not.  

Physical Damage Insurance 

Protects your personal tractor or trailer from accidents while on the road. This type of coverage is typically required if you finance your truck, but it is also a smart option for owner-operators.

How Much Insurance Do Interstate Truckers Need?

The federal government dictates the liability limits for commercial vehicles in a number of ways. Some truckers, companies, or commercial insurance companies may require additional coverage. It’s also wise to consider adjusting your coverage above the federal minimums to best suit your company’s unique needs.

Here are some of the federal limits for interstate liability insurance:

  • $300,000 for vehicles that weigh 10,000 pounds or less and carry nonhazardous freight
  • $750,000 for vehicles that weigh more than 10,000 pounds and carry nonhazardous freight
  • $1,000,000 for vehicles that carry oil
  • $5,000,000 for vehicles that transport hazardous materials
  • $5,000,000 for passenger vehicles
  • $1,500,000 for passenger vehicles that can seat 15 people or fewer

You are required to meet the minimum limits of coverage. That means if you are at fault for an accident that goes $1,000,000 worth of damages, but your policy only covers $750,000, you are violating FMCSA policies. This violation can cost you both a great deal of money but also your ability to operate across state lines. With that in mind, you are required to have documentation showing that you meet the minimum insurance requirements. 

The Best Commercial Truck Insurance is Only a Phone Call Away

Getting the best commercial trucking insurance is more than merely going with a cheap truck insurance company. While pricing matters, there’s so much more to have the right kind of coverage. 

At SoCal Truck Insurance, we’re more than just another truck insurance company. We take pride in knowing the trucking industry. We are your one-stop-shop for all of your commercial truck insurance needs. Whether you’re staying close to home or driving across the country, our dedicated team is here not only to make sure you have the right insurance for your needs but to answer all of your questions.

The best news is that when you go with SoCal Truck Insurance, you not only get the best customer service and agents account, but you’ll also get cheap truck insurance that fits your needs and budget. Give us a call today to get your free, no-obligation quote. We look forward to serving your business.