Most States have insurance laws that require certain levels of insurance coverage for passenger vehicles (cars). These laws, however, typically do not apply to large trucks. Some States have enacted minimum levels of insurance that trucks with certain gross weights must carry.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has issued regulations specific to large trucks that require them to carry certain levels of insurance coverage. Section 387 of the FMCS Regulations governs these mandatory insurance requirements.
Section 387.1 states:
This subpart prescribes the minimum levels of financial responsibility required to be maintained by motor carriers of property operating motor vehicles in interstate, foreign or intrastate commerce. The purpose of these regulations is to create additional incentives to motor carriers to maintain and operate their vehicles in a safe manner and to assure that motor carriers maintain an appropriate level of financial responsibility for motor vehicles operated on public highways.
Section 387.7 states in part:
(a) No motor carrier shall operate a motor vehicle until the motor carrier has obtained and has in effect the minimum levels of financial responsibility as set forth in Section 387.9 of this subpart.
Section 387.9 provides that “For-hire, in interstate or foreign commerce, with a gross vehicle weight rating of 10,001 or more pounds, for non-hazardous property the carrier must maintain insurance coverage of at least $750,000. If the For-hire and private carrier is carrying hazardous substances, the minimum level of insurance is $5,000,000.
The exception to this rule is for motor vehicles that have a gross weight of less than 10,001 pounds. However, the exception does not apply if the vehicle is used to transport hazardous substances.
Although the FMCSA regulation requires at least $750,000 in insurance coverage, many trucking companies carry much more in insurance coverage, especially if the company utilizes a fleet of trucks for its operations. Policies with coverage as high as $100,000,000 are not uncommon with large carriers.
These higher coverages are a direct recognition of the massive damage large trucks can cause when they are involved in accidents, especially with smaller passenger vehicles.