Non-trucking liability insurance

Non-trucking liability insurance

Is a policy that covers you if you cause damage or injury to a third party while you’re driving your truck for personal purposes.

As a truck driver, you’re used to handling major responsibilities, from safety on the road to the security of the cargo you haul. Your motor carrier has insurance coverage to protect you while you’re working—but who’s protecting you when you’re driving your truck off the clock? Without a policy to cover the times when you drive your truck for personal errands and trips, you could be responsible for a lot more than you planned for, including medical bills, property repairs and the cost of lawsuits. To avoid taking on these risks, you need a non-trucking liability policy.

What is non-trucking liability insurance?

What exactly is non-trucking liability (NTL) insurance? It’s a policy that covers you if you cause damage or injury to a third party while you’re driving your truck for personal purposes.1 With a non-trucking liability policy, you could be protected against expensive losses in situations like these:

  • You’ve dropped off your load and you’re on your way home. On the drive, you stop by the grocery store and accidentally back into an expensive convertible that’s following too close behind your rig in the parking lot. You could be responsible for the cost of repairs.
  • You and your family are headed to the soccer fields in your truck so you can watch the kids’ games before you leave on your next long haul. On the way, a car in front of you slams on its brakes, and you’re unable to completely stop before hitting their rear bumper. The driver says he has whiplash from the impact and expects you to cover his medical bills.
  • En route to a gathering with friends, a child runs into the road ahead of you. You swerve and avoid the child, but you take out a fence and shed next to a house. The homeowner’s insurance company sues for the cost of repairs.

Why could you be liable for property damage or bodily injury that happens to someone else while you’re driving your truck off the clock? When you’re using your truck for personal activities like running errands and going on outings, your motor carrier’s trucking liability policy or commercial auto policy doesn’t apply—and neither does your personal auto insurance.

When can non-trucking liability be claimed?

There are a number of situations when non-trucking liability coverage can protect you from claims of injury and property damage while you’re driving your truck off the clock, including:

  • Driving from your rest location to a restaurant
  • Driving to a place to rest after loading
  • Driving to a truck stop to rest after unloading
  • Driving to your home from your home terminal
  • Driving your kids to and from their activities
  • Family outings and road trips
  • Hauling personal property off the clock
  • Personal errands
  • Visits with family and friends

If any of these are things you typically do in your truck, getting a non-trucking liability policy may be a wise move.

Who’s responsible?

Because trucks are large and heavy and take a long time to stop—even without a load in the trailer—you know they can do much more damage than a passenger vehicle in the same kind of accident, no matter how carefully you drive.

And even if the other party is found to be at fault, that decision might only come after a long, expensive legal battle that requires you to come up with attorney’s fees to get things sorted out. In the meantime, your income, and possibly your savings as well, could be tied up in defending yourself against claims brought by an injured party. 

With a non-trucking liability policy, you have coverage in case of a claim or lawsuit that results from an accident while you’re driving the truck on your own time. You also have the peace of mind that comes from knowing you have that coverage.

Commercial trucking liability, personal auto insurance, and non-trucking liability

When you drive for the motor carrier you have a contract with, you’re covered by the commercial motor truck liability policy, and the cargo you haul for the motor carrier is insured by their motor truck cargo policy. And while some carriers’ policies include liability coverage for bobtail coverage (bringing a load back on your way home) or limited non-business driving—like driving home after unloading—many don’t. It’s a good idea to review the current motor truck liability insurance information and make sure you understand the limitations of coverage.2

What’s more, your personal auto insurance—the coverage you have for non-work vehicles you and your family members drive—won’t cover the personal driving you do in your truck. Unless you have a non-trucking liability policy to bridge that gap in coverage, you could be responsible in these types of situations:

Bodily Injury

If you’re in an accident while driving your truck for personal business and someone else gets hurt—a driver in another vehicle, a passenger in your truck, or someone else—you could be held liable for their medical care, lost income due to the injury and other expenses.

Third-party property damage

Even a minor accident with minimal damage can cost hundreds or thousands of dollars to repair.3 If you hit or otherwise damage someone else’s property with your truck while you’re running errands or on a personal trip in your truck, you would likely be responsible for covering the cost of that damage out of your own pocket.

Defense

If you accidentally injure someone or damage their property while driving your truck off the clock and they sue you, you’ll an attorney to defend you against the suit.

What isn’t covered by non-trucking liability insurance?

Not all off-the-clock, personal driving in your truck is covered by a non-trucking liability policy. For example, non-trucking liability excludes:1

  • Driving between two work sites.
  • Driving past rest stops to get closer to your destination.
  • Driving to a place to rest after maxing out your on-duty hours.
  • Driving without a trailer attached (aka bobtailing).
  • Taking your truck to the shop for repairs and maintenance.

Some of these scenarios should be covered by your motor carrier’s policies. For coverage while bobtailing, you may need to buy a separate bobtail liability policy.4

Safeguard your small business

As a truck driver, you already have a lot of responsibilities. Protecting yourself from liability while you’re driving your rig on your personal time is an easy way to ensure that you don’t end up responsible for more than you bargained for. With a non-trucking liability policy, you shield yourself from unforeseen expenses that could arise from an accident while you’re driving your truck for personal business. That can lighten your load of worries on the road.

And beyond non-trucking liability, there are also plenty of other risks while you’re on the job. General liability and professional liability insurance are considered the most essential types of insurance for any line of work, and especially as a trucker, you’ll likely need your own policies to protect you, even if an accident happens in a vehicle you don’t own. Meet Thimble: liability insurance designed for independent workers like truckers.

Sources:

The content on this page has been verified by
Terri Hitchcock, JD
Chief Insurance Officer, Thimble
Terri has 38 years of industry experience and knows a thing or two about insurance, so she reviewed and approved everything on this page.

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