Bobtail vs. Non-trucking Liability: What You Need to Know

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If you’re an independent driver and own a semi-truck, you need to fully understand how trucking insurance works for you. Typically, when driving for a commercial trucking business under dispatch, you’re covered by your employer’s business insurance policy. However, once you’re off the clock, your own trucking coverage intervenes. 

You will often hear about “bobtail” insurance from various people in the transportation industry. Although many use the terms non-trucking liability and bobtail insurance, conversely, this is incorrect. 

Non-trucking and bobtail insurance are similar in many extent, and hence people in the industry often get confused regarding the coverage and liability of these two policies.  However, if they choose these types of additional coverage, then they will benefit from many situations. Therefore, it’s necessary to know about both non-trucking and liability insurance for truckers. 

Bobtail Insurance Coverage: What is it? 

Bobtail insurance is a type of policy that covers you and your truck while on the route without a hauling trailer or another type of load. For instance, you drop off a load in Massachusetts and need to pick up another load in Summerville for a different carrier. This policy will cover you for the time you’re driving between loads, as when you end your shift and drive home after dropping a trailer or a load. 

Bobtail coverage doesn’t apply if you’re hauling another load or trailer. Even with an empty trailer, they may not be protected if you’re in a collision. You can still use your truck for personal reasons and may be covered by the bobtail insurance as long as you don’t haul a trailer to do your weekly errands. 

A bobtail policy typically ranges from $35-$60 monthly, but prices can vary depending on what’s covered and what’s excluded when comparing policies. 

Non-Trucking Liability Insurance: What is it? 

The non-trucking liability insurance covers all costs for injuries or property damage that you cause while the truck is not being used for commercial purposes. 

Most drivers need this type of coverage as there are times when the vehicle is used for personal reasons. For example, one may drive the truck home or to the truck wash between transporting loads.

Bobtail vs Non-Trucking Liability 

Bobtail insurance coverage is often confused with non-trucking liability coverage, but there are a few differences. In contrast, non-trucking insurance covers independent semi-drivers when they are outside the scope of their lease agreement with the commercial carrier. Typically, this policy is available when semi-truck drivers are driving their big rigs without trailers on their own time. 

Liability insurance is somewhat narrower in scope and doesn’t apply to liabilities and legal exposure by shippers when truckers are bobtailing. On the other hand, liability insurance does not protect semi drivers while under dispatch.

Both additional types of liability coverage can offer coverage for circumstances that fall between the cracks. And, knowing how you’ll be using your truck will determine how much of these coverages you will need.

Adam Hansen

Adam is a part time journalist, entrepreneur, investor and father.