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Why Truckers Need Bobtail Liability Insurance

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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 coverage will protect your tractor in the instance you are driving it without your trailer attached (i.e. “bobtailing” or “deadheading”).

Does an Owner-Operator or Motor Carrier Need Bobtail Insurance?

Owner/operators need insurance coverage for a commercial truck—whether you provide it or the trucking authority you drive under provides it. Check to see if it's included in your motor carrier's primary liability policy. But do you actually need bobtail insurance included in your truck insurance? Here are some reasons why you’d need it:

  • Bobtail insurance covers you if you use your truck on personal time—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 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.

So who needs bobtail coverage?

  • A trucking company
  • Independent owners-operators
  • Anyone truckers that lease a trailer
  • Anyone that uses their tractor for personal use

If you drive your truck without a trailer at any point you'll want to carry bobtail coverage as part of your trucking insurance package.

What Does Bobtail Insurance Cover?

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. Bobtail insurance provides coverage in these scenarios:

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 pay to repair the property damage to the other person’s vehicle, their medical expenses, legal fees, and even the costly settlement if they sue you.

What is Not Covered by Bobtail Insurance?

A bobtail insurance policy does NOT cover damage to your truck. Those expenses would fall under your primary trucking insurance. Likewise, it will not provide coverage for the load you're hauling. That would fall under cargo insurance coverage.

Is Bobtail Insurance Different From Non-Trucking Liability (NTL)?

Non-trucking liability insurance (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 also 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 covers the costs of an accident. So how is it different? It will not provide coverage if you’re doing anything under dispatch that could fall under the umbrella of work. 

Bobtail Insurance

Bobtail insurance also covers you when you're bobtailing, 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. With costs that low, why would you not consider the added protection for your business? Some factors that are taken into account when calculating your rate include:

  • The cargo that you haul
  • Your operating radius
  • The type of vehicle you use
  • Your personal driving history
  • How many trucks your business is operating
  • The annual revenue of your trucking business

Check with your motor carrier or insurance company to see if your commercial insurance already includes bobtail insurance or non-trucking liability insurance. The right insurance agents can help you determine if you can add it as an endorsement and how much you might pay for coverage.

Get a Free 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. Our goal is to help you save money while getting the liability coverage you need. We can help you get free quotes from multiple insurance companies. We can also help answer questions about additional commercial insurance you may want to consider (such as auto insurance). If you'd like your help getting quotes, complete the form at the top of the page or call us at 877-907-5267.

Reviewed By: Sarah Reid, Licensed Agent

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