What is Bobtail Insurance?
The COVID-19 pandemic showed us that the trucking industry is essential to the functioning of our economy. Trucking companies haul groceries, gasoline, cleaning supplies—nearly everything you buy in a store. Commercial trucks are the workforce of the freight industry.
Most truck drivers will be driving their truck with the trailer attached while on a business trip. Bobtail insurance covers your tractor in the instance you are driving it without your trailer attached (i.e. “bobtailing” or “deadheading”).
Does an Owner-Operator Need Bobtail Insurance?
Owner/operators need insurance coverage for your commercial truck—whether you provide it or the trucking authority you drive under provides it. But do you actually need bobtail insurance included in your truck insurance? Here are some reasons why you’d need it:
- If you ever drive your truck while not on dispatch without a trailer attached (deadhead trips)
- You need help covering the cost of physical damage in an accident
- You can't afford to cover the cost of a third-party injury or a lawsuit
- Your motor carrier requires you to obtain bobtail liability
Typically, bobtail coverage is for drivers under a lease agreement with a motor carrier. Most motor carriers require you to obtain bobtail or non-trucking liability as part of your contract. If you’re the owner/operator driving under your own authority, bobtail is usually covered under your primary liability policy.
What Is Covered by Bobtail Insurance?
Bobtail insurance coverage is considered a liability-only insurance policy. What does that mean? Liability policies only cover expenses if you are involved in or responsible for an accident.
Example: You complete a haul and your trailer is left at the drop site. You’re driving to pick up your next load and blow a tire, causing you to sideswipe another car. Bobtail insurance will cover the property damage to the other person’s vehicle, their medical expenses, legal fees, and even costly settlements.
A bobtail insurance policy does NOT cover damage to your truck. Those expenses would fall under your primary liability coverage.
Is Bobtail Insurance Different From Non-Trucking Liability (NTL)?
Non-trucking liability (NTL) and bobtail insurance are terms that are often used interchangeably. However, these two insurance options are quite different.
Non-Trucking Liability Insurance
Non-trucking liability insurance protects you when you’re driving your commercial truck without a trailer (i.e. when you’re not hauling). If you get in an accident while grocery shopping, this portion of your insurance policy would cover an accident. It will not provide coverage if you’re doing anything under dispatch that could fall under the umbrella of work.
Bobtail insurance also covers you when you don't have a trailer attached, but it does cover you while you’re driving under someone else’s trucking authority (i.e. working).
How Much Does Bobtail Insurance Cost?
Bobtail insurance is often added as an endorsement to your commercial truck insurance policy. It can be as little as an additional $20–$60 a month. Some factors that are taken into account when calculating your rate include:
- The cargo that you haul
- Your operating radius
- The type of truck you use
- Your personal driving history
- How many trucks your business operates
- The annual revenue of your trucking business
Check with your motor carrier or insurance company to see if your commercial auto policy already includes bobtail insurance or non-trucking liability insurance. They can help you determine if you can add it as an endorsement and how much it might cost for coverage.
Get a Bobtail Liability Insurance Quote
Whether you're the owner-operator and work as an independent trucker or you're in an agreement with a motor carrier, you need to protect yourself from liability. We can help you get quotes from multiple insurance companies for this important liability coverage. We can also help answer questions about additional products you may want to add to your coverage. If you'd like your help getting quotes, complete the form at the top of the page or call us at 877-907-5267.
Related Business Insurance: Commercial Truck Insurance, Non-Trucking Liability Insurance, Commercial Auto Insurance