Bobtail Insurance

"“I needed to call in a claim, thanks to their policies I was able to get my entire truck paid in full. My old company would of given me only half the amount needed."


Carl S | Baltimore, MD

All You Need to Know about Bobtail Insurance Coverage

There are various types of insurance out there and these days, almost anything can be insured and given varying levels of protection. If you’re the owner or operator of a commercial truck, then bobtail insurance is something you should definitely educate yourself on.

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“Bobtailing” or “deadheading” is the action of using your commercial truck without the trailer attached to it. In case you meet with an accident while “bobtailing”, a bobtail insurance would cover any damages resulting from the accident. The best part about bobtail liability coverage is that it covers any damages regardless of whether or not you are under dispatch for a job. However, like all insurance policies, it is necessary to know exactly what your policy covers and what it doesn’t.

Bobtail Coverage

Truck Risks

Bobtail insurance, also called “deadhead insurance” provides coverage for damages from accidents in the following situations:

  • While driving your truck without the trailer attached (regardless of dispatch)
  • While driving your truck without its cargo trailer to and from the terminal
  • While traveling between loads and the trailer isn’t attached at this point

Generally, bobtail insurance provides a much broader range of coverage than other liability insurance, but for this reason, it can also be more expensive. Additionally, the broad coverage can also limit the exposure of the carrier. Thus, bobtail insurance covers the following:

  • Damages to properties of third parties
  • Medical expenses in case of injuries to third parties
  • Defense costs in case of a lawsuit

Thus, bobtail insurance essentially covers any damages that may occur as the result of an accident while truckers use their trucks for recreational purposes, off the job site, at a servicing station, or any other place or situation where they aren’t under the authority of the trucking company.

Bobtail Insurance and Non-Trucking Liability

Often, bobtail insurance is confused with non-trucking liability (NTL). However, though both types of insurance refer to a similar coverage, there are important differences between the two.

Non-trucking liability or NTL refers to insurance coverage provided in case of any accidents that occur while using your commercial truck for personal purposes. It pays for any medical expenses or damages that may occur to third parties due to the accident.

Some of the differences between the two are:

  • NTL covers independent drivers when they use their vehicle outside the range of their lease agreement with the motor carrier.
  • NTL only applies when drivers are driving their trucks without trailers for personal reasons and on personal time.
  • NTL does not cover drivers while they are under dispatch.
  • NTL provides more narrow coverage than bobtail insurance and for this reason, is less expensive than bobtail insurance.

Thus, NTL doesn’t provide any coverage during business hours or when under dispatch, such as driving to and from the terminal, traveling to service the vehicle, or even stopping to refuel, or the use of the vehicle for any revenue-generating activities, all of which are considered business hours. These activities are generally insured by the trucking company’s primary trucking liability insurance.

Do You Need Bobtail Insurance?

Apart from the fact that it insures you against damage and thus, is a logical policy to have. However, trucking companies may also require independent truck drivers to already have bobtail insurance, as “bobtailing” is highly common, even under dispatch. Thus, bobtail insurance covers truckers in case of accidents under dispatch, which reduces the liability of the trucking company as the insurance policy will cover the expenses, instead.

It’s important to understand that bobtail insurance alone isn’t enough to completely insure your truck. Bobtail insurance usually requires other truck insurance policies that are complementary to it, such as physical damage coverage, to fully protect your vehicle against damage or in any situation. Therefore, commercial truck insurance and bobtail insurance work hand-in-hand; both are equally important.

How Much Does Bobtail Insurance Typically Cost?

As we said, bobtail insurance costs more than other truck insurance policies due to the wider coverage it provides. The most popularly requested amount of coverage for bobtail policies is $1 million, though higher limits are available. The cost of coverage will also depend on the amount of coverage you require.

For example, if you plan to purchase a $1 million coverage policy, the monthly amount that you have to pay could work out to an amount ranging from $35-60. Also, remember that different insurance companies may quote different prices for their insurance policies, so make sure you triple-check and read the fine print! 

Saving on Bobtail Insurance

What many people fail to understand is that there are ways to save on insurance policies as well! Many insurance companies offer discounts and deals on insurance policies, such as “bundling” (buying more than one or two different policies from the same company), discounts on the premium for meeting certain criteria, and so on.

You can save on bobtail insurance with the following tips as well:

  • Finding an insurance company that offers you low rates (such as 2.5% of your vehicle’s stated amount).
  • Adjusting your deductibles is a highly efficient way to save on insurance premium. Adjusting your deductible to as low as $100 or as high as $3,000 can really help to lower the costs of your insurance premium.

Bobtail insurance is quite an important part of commercial trucking insurance for independent truck owners and operators. As we mentioned, apart from being a protective device in many situations, it may also be a requirement by many trucking companies so as to minimize their losses, and bobtail insurance is one of the many insurance policies that a diverse trucking industry requires. Though commercial truck insurance policies provide covers for their employees, a huge part of the trucking industry is composed of independent truckers (an estimated 9% of 3.5 million truck drivers in the United States are deemed independent owners and operators), which makes bobtail insurance all the more essential.

Get a Bobtail Quote

Ultimately though, ensure you put in some research and talk to insurance experts to get a clear idea of how bobtail insurance works. This will also help you decide on the amount of coverage you need and even receive reasonably priced quotes for your insurance needs.

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