Are Commercial Trucks Required to Have Minimum Insurance Coverage?
Part 3 in an 8-Part Summary of Trucking Regulations…
FMCSA Reg. Parts 387 re insurance requirements
Just as regular car and truck drivers are required to maintain minimum levels of insurance coverage in order to legally operate their automobiles; operators of commercial trucks must carry a minimum amount of coverage as dictated by federal regulations. However, given their relative size and the inherent danger involved in transporting the commercial items they carry, commercial vehicles are rightly held to a higher insurance requirements than the average car traveling on the road.
Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration Regulation 387.301 prescribes that no commercial carrier shall receive an operation certificate or permit until they appropriately file surety bonds equal to the minimum levels set forth in Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration Regulation 387.9.
Additionally, to ensure compliance, Regulation 387.17 mandates that truckers found in violation of these requirements may be fined up to $11,000 per day that they fall to maintain the set surety minimums.
The primary threshold that necessitates the maintenance of elevated levels of insurance coverage is the shear size of the vehicle being used. Under Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration Regulation 387.9, vehicles that are involved in interstate commerce and have a gross vehicle weight rating above 10,001 pounds fall within the heightened coverage parameters. The gross vehicle weight rating is calculated by adding together the weight of the vehicle itself, along with any passengers and cargo.
After the gross weight threshold is reached, Regulation 387.9 requires differing levels of minimum insurance coverage based on the nature of materials that the commercial vehicle is transporting. The primary concern is whether or not the cargo being transported is statutorily defined as hazardous material.
If the commercial vehicle is transporting nonhazardous property, then the minimum coverage begins at $750,000. From there the coverage increases up a sliding scale, proportional to the level of danger presented by the hazardous material transported, toping out at $5,000,000 for vehicles transporting the most dangerous of materials. If you need to reference this sliding scale it may be viewed in full here. Additionally, the definition and classification of hazardous materials as used in the regulation maybe found here.
When initiating litigation stemming from a trucking accident, the issue of insurance coverage quickly comes to the forefront. Along with the damages that are suffered, the surety level of the carrier has a significant practical impact on the recovery limits in many cases. Of course, there are often several sources of insurance, as well as possible tortfeasors in any given accident which experienced trucking attorneys can help you investigate and evaluate.
Read Part 4 of Trucking Regulations…
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Starr Austen and Miller, specialized truck accident lawyers in Indiana, focus on representing individuals and their family members in serious personal injury and wrongful death cases, such as those often involved in Indiana truck accidents. If you or a loved one have been in a truck accident you can contact us for a free consultation to discuss your case.