Choosing truck insurance to keep you moving in the right direction

Your trucks are on the road day after day. You know the hazards of trucking. And you know the importance of insurance. But knowing what’s the best coverage for you is a little trickier. There’s a lot to consider when it comes to company, coverage, and price. Here are some suggestions that’ll keep you moving in the right direction.

Finding the best company for you

Most motor carriers can’t afford to self-insure and the cost of an insurance policy can vary widely—from $2,500 to $10,000 for each unit every year. That premium is affected by several factors—including your average driver’s age, the type of trucks you’re driving, your safety and inspection record, and the type of cargo you expect to haul.

That’s why it’s important to identify the best insurance company for you. What you’re looking for is a company that specializes in truck insurance. They’ll understand the specialized coverage you need—like upgrading insurance for a temporary job or single-trip haul, handling the USDOT MCS-90 endorsement, the motor-carrier filing requirements of various state regulatory agencies, or the best way to investigate and verify claims.

Once you’ve identified insurers who specialize in trucking, compare the differences. How do the they measure up when considering:

  • Knowledge: Check that the agent and company you’re buying from have experience in trucking.
  • Experience: Learn how long the insurance carrier’s been in business and how long it has specialized in truck insurance.
  • Financial strength: Find out if the company has sufficient reserve money to cover many expensive claims at one time.
  • Coverage: Learn what damages are covered by the basic policies and if they can be adapted to your needs.
  • Cost: Determine what basic coverage will cost and what additional or optional coverage will add to your premium.
  • Value: Take a close look at the products and services provided to make sure they’re what you need without being over or under covered.
  • Claims Expertise: Find out if the claims team specializes in transportation and provides 24/7 service.
  • Safety Services: See if the company offers free accident prevention advice and consultations by safety experts to keep you in compliance with USDOT regulations.

Finding the highest rated companies

When you do business with an insurance company, you want to make sure they’ll be there when you need them. That’s why it’s in your best interest to do some research. Determining if an insurer is in good financial health is easier than it sounds. National rating companies continually monitor and report on the financial strength and customer service performance of insurance carriers. The A.M. Best Company assigns ratings for financial strength. When you meet with an agent, ask to see the latest numbers and grades from the rating services. You can also find them online or at a public library.

Finding the coverage you need

Knowing what insurance to buy and how much to pay can be a challenge if you don’t know what to look for—or what to ask. Some coverages are required by USDOT regulations, while others are required by state authorities or shippers.

If you’re an owner-operator, the coverages you need depend on whether you run under your own authority or under someone else’s on a permanent or trip lease. If you’re operating under your own authority, you’ll need:

  • Primary liability coverage—including uninsured motorist and personal injury protection.
  • Physical damage coverage that includes your electronics, load handling, and in-cab equipment.
  • Bobtail coverage for non-trucking use.
  • Cargo coverage for the trailer contents, temperature-control machinery, and other appliances or accessories that keep cargo secure. Also be aware:
    • ­Coverage should be tailored to the type of commodities hauled and the requirements of the shipper
    • ­“All-risk” cargo coverage is not normally available

You may want to consider optional coverages, including workers’ compensation, general liability, and cyber coverage.

If you operate under another’s authority, don’t accept an assignment until you have read the lease carefully to determine who’s responsible for insurance coverage. In most cases, the leasing motor carrier will carry the primary liability coverage. However, you need to understand that few leases carry physical damage coverage for the owner-operator. You’ll need your own coverage since you may be liable for damage to trailers you pull but don’t own.

Finding your best price

Finding a bargain is always a good thing—except when it comes to your insurance. While it’s good to compare prices, be sure to compare the coverage with it. Here’s what to look for:

  • Look closely at any policy that appears to be a lot cheaper than those offered by other companies
  • Compare the terms, conditions, and extent of coverage
  • Remember that if it sounds too good to be true—it probably is

Like your car insurance, the use of higher deductibles for your truck can reduce your rates for both liability and physical damage coverages. For liability insurance, the loss is paid by the insurance company and the deductible is billed back to the customer. For physical damage coverage, the loss payment is reduced by the deducible amount.

The best way to control your insurance costs is by maintaining a good driving record. Showing that you’re minimizing your losses can mean better rates. But each insurer considers driving records in a different way. Talk with your agent for more details.

Finding your best value

While there are tangible benefits—like online access to resources, premium payment options to fit your fiscal schedule, and easy access to insurance certificates when you need them—remember, part of what you’re paying for is a relationship with your insurance company. That way if an accident does happen, you know you have someone who’ll guide you through the claims process every step of the way. When you have questions, you know there’s someone who can get you a solid answer. When you need safety advice, you know exactly who to call.

It’s the relationships you build with the people in the company you choose to do business with that will help keep you moving in the right direction.

Finding Sentry Insurance

We understand what you’re looking for in an insurance company because we’ve been there ourselves. We got our start in 1904, when members of the Wisconsin Retail Hardware Association formed their own insurance company. Backed by personalized care and Midwest roots, we’ve since grown to become one of the largest and most secure mutual insurance companies in the nation. We deliver peace of mind to more than one million policy holders who know we’ll be there when they need us most. And we can be there for you.

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