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  • Madeline Eby

7 Common Questions New Fleet Owners Ask

Getting started in the commercial trucking industry can be daunting. There are so many factors to consider from the types of freight you’ll carry to factoring and telematics options and so much more. Luckily, we can help you learn about one of the big items on most new fleet owners’ to-do lists: commercial fleet insurance. If you have commercial fleet insurance questions, we’ve got the answers! Here are 7 common questions and answers about motor carrier insurance:

Q: What is commercial truck insurance?

A: Commercial truck insurance is a legally required grouping of auto insurance policies that are specific to the policyholder and meet the needs of trucking companies. Typically commercial truck insurance comprises of auto and general liability, in addition to other coverages based on the specifics of their fleet.

Q: What is cargo insurance?

A: Cargo insurance, also known as Motor Truck Cargo Insurance, is a policy that provides insurance for the freight, or cargo, that a trucker hauls. This kind of policy covers liability for cargo should it be damaged, lost due to collision, fire, or striking a load.

Q: What does FMCSA mean?

A: The FMCSA, or Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, is an agency within the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT). The agency was established in 2000, with the mission to “reduce crashes, injuries, and fatalities involving large trucks and buses.” The FMCSA is important to commercial truck drivers because it:

  • Creates and enforces driver safety regulations that drivers must comply with

  • Gives driving scores to carriers and drivers. These scores can affect insurance rates and career prospects for drivers

  • Sets rules related to maintaining & enforcing commercial motor vehicles’ equipment

Q: What is an FMCSA score, and why should it matter to me?

A: FMCSA scores are a crucial part of the agency’s Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) safety compliance and enforcement program. A driver’s score can have a large impact on his or her insurance rates & career prospects. The CSA analyses commercial driver performance using the Safety Measurement System (SMS) scoring system. SMS scores, which are updated monthly, rate driver safety based on two years’ worth of data including vehicle violations and crash reports. The CSA states that the SMS scores consider:

  • The number of safety violations and inspections

  • The severity of safety violations or crashes

  • When the safety violations occurred, with recent events weighted more heavily

  • The number of trucks/buses a carrier operates, and the number of vehicle miles traveled

  • Acute and critical violations found during investigations

Q: How can I check my FMSCA score?

A: Carriers can check their score by logging in with their D.O.T. number and pin on the FMCSA’s Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) website, or they can access it through their DOT Company Snapshot page. The FMCSA scores motor carriers, using the Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) enforcement program. The CSA is key to enforcing commercial truck safety and can have an effect on insurer rates. The higher a score the worse the carrier’s performance is, and that can lead to higher deductibles and premiums. It would even possibly lead to denial of coverage.

Q: What type of fleets or drivers are subject to FMCSA regulations?

A: The FMCSA specifies that carriers and drivers are subject to their regulations if they operate any of the following:

  • A vehicle with a gross vehicle weight rating or gross combination weight rating (whichever is greater) of 4,537 kg (10,001 lbs.) or more (GVWR, GCWR, GVW or GCW)

  • A vehicle designed or used to transport between 9 and 15 passengers (including the driver) for compensation, whether direct or indirect

  • A vehicle designed or used to transport 15 or more passengers including the driver and not used for compensation

  • Any size vehicle used in the transportation of materials found to be hazardous for the purposes of the Hazardous Materials Transportation Act (49 U.S.C. 5101 et seq.) and which require the motor vehicle to be placarded under the Hazardous Materials Regulations (49 CFR Parts 100-177). This includes INTRASTATE Hazardous Materials carriers.

Q: What are the main types of insurance a trucking company needs to have?

A: Auto and general liability are typically the primary commercial auto insurance coverages needed for commercial trucking fleets. Other kinds of coverage are subject to the specific needs of each carrier, and may include:

  • Physical Damage

  • Hired Auto

  • Trailer Interchange

  • Cargo

  • Uninsured Motorist (UM)*

  • Under Insured Motorist (UIM)*

*Note this can be specific per each insurance company. If you do not elect additional UM/UIM coverage, your policy will include your state’s minimum requirements.

Now that you’ve got an overview of commercial truck insurance, from coverages to FMCSA scores, why not delve deeper? Whether you are an owner-operator or have a multi-truck fleet, CarrierHQ has an option for you. You can learn more about motor carrier insurance details here or get a quick quote for your fleet!

Would you like to speak with our team? Give us a call at (866) 621-4145 or send an email to

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