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What is bobtail insurance?

Bobtail insurance has you covered in the event that you experience damages or injuries as the result of third parties while driving without having your trailer attached to your truck. However, this type of insurance is only applicable when you are operating a vehicle under someone’s trucking authority. 

If you need to pick up your trailer before starting your long drive, bobtail insurance will cover you during your trajectory without a trailer. Bobtail insurance is different from non-trucking insurance as it only covers you while at work without a trailer. Keep reading to find out everything you need to know about this essential service.

And when you’re finished, check out the other articles in our ‘Bobtail insurance’ series:

How does bobtail insurance work?

Bobtail insurance works like this. First, you’ll drop your trailer off with your client. Then, you’ll need to drive to your next client to pick up your next load. While you’re traveling from one client to the next without a trailer, bobtail insurance will cover you if there are any damages or medical expenses that occur to third parties due to an accident.

Your carrier company’s insurance usually doesn’t cover you for accidents that happen when you’re not carrying a load. Bobtail insurance bridges this coverage gap to ensure that you’re always covered whenever you’re on the clock. 

What is a bobtail insurance policy? 

It’s a type of insurance policy that is liability-only. It will cover you for damages to others when using your truck without a trailer for work purposes. If you get in an accident while on the way to pick up your first load, when you’re picking up a new trailer, or when you’re on your way home after delivering your last shipment, this insurance will cover the following issues that might arise: 

  • Damages that are done to the property of third parties
  • Medical expenses as a result of injuries to third parties during an accident
  • Legal fees for settling lawsuits as a result of being in an accident without a trailer 

Is it mandatory?

If there are moments when you’re on the clock where you have to drive your truck without a trailer attached, then you need bobtail insurance. Since your carrier company’s policy does not protect you during this time, this insurance will cover you in the event of any damages or injuries done to third parties. Independent truckers who work for different clients also need it so that they’re covered when they’re en route to pick up another trailer.

What are the requirements?

Bobtail insurance only covers you while you’re driving under someone else’s trucking authority and not carrying a load. Most companies will require you to get it since you are not covered under your carrier company’s insurance in those circumstances. 

It only covers damages done to third parties. It does not cover damages done to your truck. Therefore, the policy does not offer complete coverage by itself. You will often also need a physical damage policy to cover any damages caused to your truck.

What is the average cost?

On average, bobtail insurance costs between $20 to $70 per month. This rate varies depending on several factors, some of which include the following: 

  • Coverage limit: A higher coverage limit comes with higher rates, whereas less coverage will cost you less.
  • Deductible: The more you’re willing to pay in case of an emergency, the lower your rates will be.
  • Driving history: A history of speeding and traffic violations will increase your rates. 
  • Insurance claim history: If you have a history of accidents and claims, insurance providers will charge you more money, increasing your rates. 
  • Bobtailing frequency: The more frequently you drive without a trailer, the higher the chance of claims for this policy. Your rate will be higher if you bobtail frequently as well. 
  • Operating radius: A larger operating radius means longer hours and unknown routes, adding risks and subsequently increasing your rates.

Can I save money on bobtail insurance? 

Some providers can give you better rates if you bundle your insurance with another policy that they also provide. Otherwise, you can save money by raising your deductible or lowering your coverage. However, be careful about lowering your coverage, as this may end up being the more expensive option in the event of an accident.

What does bobtail insurance cover?

Bobtail insurance bridges the gap left by standard trucking liability insurance when you drive without a trailer. This coverage includes: 

  • Damages caused to third-party properties while driving without a load
  • Medical costs for third parties in case of injuries during an accident
  • Legal fees if you’re sued for an event that happened 

What is not covered?

Bobtail insurance is an essential line of defense for any truck driver. However, it doesn’t cover the following circumstances: 

  • Any damages to your truck
  • Any injuries that you sustain 
  • Damages or expenses that occur while driving with a trailer attached 

Bobtail vs non-trucking liability insurance

So, what is the difference between bobtail insurance and non-trucking liability insurance? Bobtail insurance covers you as you drive to, from, and during work without there being a trailer attached to your truck. On the other hand, non-trucking liability insurance covers you when an accident occurs while you’re driving your truck for reasons that aren’t business-related, like going to the store to buy groceries.

Bobtail insurance:

  • Covers driving without a trailer during business hours
  • Offers broad coverage
  • More expensive than non-trucking liability insurance

Non-trucking liability insurance:

  • Covers driving your truck outside of business hours
  • Offers  more narrow coverage
  • Cheaper than bobtail insurance

Why you need bobtail insurance

Are there times when you’re working and you have to operate your truck without a trailer? Then you need bobtail insurance to cover you! 

If you are involved in or responsible for an accident while driving without a trailer, your carrier company’s policy won’t cover you, but bobtail insurance will. Of course, we can never truly know if or when we might get in an accident, but when it happens, you’ll be happy you’re covered for the expenses resulting from the accident. 


What is another name for bobtail insurance?

Bobtail insurance is also known as non-trucking liability insurance or deadhead insurance.

Why is it called bobtail?

It’s called bobtail insurance because it provides coverage when a truck driver is operating a truck without a trailer attached, or ‘bobtailing.’

Does bobtail insurance cover physical damage?

No, bobtail insurance does not typically cover physical damage. It covers third party liability claims that occur when a truck is being driven without a trailer attached.

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