No trucker can drive without insurance. But you don’t have to spend a fortune for good coverage. Although commercial truck insurance will always be a major expense, there are many ways you can lower the cost of your premiums and find a policy that’s right for your needs and budget.
Whether you’re an owner-operator or for-hire driver, lowering your semi-truck insurance rates starts with understanding why they cost so much in the first place.
Factors That Influence Your Commercial Truck Insurance Costs
The average cost of commercial truck insurance is between $3,000 to $5,000 per year. For an owner-operator, that figure commonly doubles. Drivers who transport hazardous material or owner-operators with high-risk cargo and routes could pay even more. This means you’re facing at least several hundred dollars per month in premiums, but some drivers may pay far more.
The primary reason commercial truck insurance is expensive is due to the risk drivers pose to insurance providers. Semi-truck accidents cost over $20 billion each year in settlements.
Between paying injured drivers and compensating losses, an insurance company is looking at losing hundreds of thousands of dollars per year when they insure even a small amount of semi-truck drivers. Because of the risk insurance companies take offering coverage to commercial drivers, insurance providers have a list of criteria they use to calculate a driver’s individual rate. The most influential factors are:
Your Trucking Experience
Drivers who have been professional truck drivers for at least two years will have lower rates than those with less experience. Additionally, drivers who have held a CDL license for at least two years are also often eligible for a discount on their insurance.
Experienced drivers are also favored by carriers because they pose less of a threat. After all, accidents aren’t the only concern when it comes to trucking. Aside from damages, collisions and other accidents pose the risk of damaged cargo, delayed delivery, and major losses to both the carrier and recipient.
While you cannot magically increase the amount of time you have been driving, the number of miles you logged can be helpful. Showing a steady history of hauling is more attractive than drivers who may be driving part-time. References from motor carriers or additional training can also improve the chances of lowering your premiums.
Your Driving Record
As with regular auto insurance, fewer accidents translate into lower rates. The safer you drive, the less you will have to pay for trucking insurance. Insurance providers will look at your accident history before providing you a quote. It really does pay to be as safe as possible. This means setting limits with yourself, not driving when you’re too tired, and always playing it safe.
If you drive in densely populated areas with heavy traffic, your risk of an accident will be higher and your rates will reflect it. Traffic is just one factor, though. Weather, terrain and mileage are also taken into consideration. Although long-haul jobs can pay well, they may cost more to drive and be insured.
Real Ways to Save on Your Trucking Insurance
Aside from practicing safe driving and taking low-risk routes, there are some other ways you can lower your insurance costs.
Pay Off Your Policy When You Sign Up
Consider whether you could pay your policy in-full. Paying the annual premium up-front can lower the total cost by 10 to 15 percent. This may not be viable for everyone, but truckers who want to renew their policy and have the cash to on hand should consider it. Doing so will also take away the hassle of monthly premiums.
Don’t Pay for Unnecessary Limits
Most trucking insurance providers offer packages that incorporate multiple forms of coverage. You can’t go without primary liability and should also carry non-trucking liability and cargo insurance. But challenge additional coverages and the limits provided if they are not protecting exposures you actually have. Lowering or removing limits on policies that are not relevant to you can reduce your overall costs.
Be Your Own Advocate
Working with an independent insurance agent specializing in the trucking industry is the best way to meet your needs without overpaying. That said, you can also do some of the investigative leg work yourself. This will educate you enough to determine if the agent you are working with really has your best interests in mind.
Don’t hesitate to ask your agent and the companies themselves about the discounts they offer. Many are not advertised or applied automatically. Knowing your own needs will allow you to pose better questions, better positioning you to choose the right coverage, and becoming the champion of your own operation.