Motor Truck Cargo Insurance: FAQs


Motor Truck Cargo

What is Motor Truck Cargo Insurance?

Motor truck cargo insurance is insurance coverage for cargo during transit via truck. It is critical for truck drivers transporting expensive cargo, as they can be held liable for damages and losses. Insurance policies protect against third-party claims and apply to the extent of the insured’s legal responsibility for the cargo being transported. It is intended to prevent liability from being assigned to the driver or the carrier service, which often amounts to tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of dollars.



Who is Eligible for Coverage?

Anyone who transports cargo via trucks should have insurance. This includes everyone from for-hire truckers to individuals who own shipping companies and want to make sure their employees are covered. In many cases, motor truck cargo insurance coverage is required by federal law. The following businesses are usually required to purchase coverage:

  • Moving companies
  • Owner-operators
  • Private carriers
  • Motor carriers
  • Freight forwarders
  • Furniture movers

To be eligible, drivers must demonstrate reliability and responsibility. Qualifications include:

  • A valid Commercial Driver’s License (CDL)
  • A copy of the driver’s Motor Vehicle Record (MVR) for both personal and commercial automobiles
  • A current physical examination which includes drug and alcohol screening results
  • The results of a written test
  • The results of a road test

What is Covered by Motor Truck Cargo Insurance?

Motor truck cargo insurance provides insurance on freight hauled via truck. It covers liability for cargo that is lost or damaged during transit. Insurance is usually written on a continuous basis and is subject to annual re-rating. Coverage begins when the policyholder takes possession of the property being transported and continues during all of the stops along the journey up until it arrives at the predetermined destination and is accepted by the consignee. Coverage plans are affected by things like type of cargo, driver experience, distance and routes traveled, and equipment, so it is best to speak with a motor truck cargo insurance professional about your specific needs.

What Causes Motor Truck Cargo Loss or Damage?

Common causes of loss or damage to cargo during transit include:

  • Traffic accidents
  • Vandalism
  • Theft
  • Weather events
  • Water damage
  • Environmental damage
  • Damage due to poorly secured load
  • Natural disasters
  • Transportation hazards

Read more about loss prevention.

What are the Inspection Requirements for Motor Truck Cargo?

Vehicles used by policyholders to transport insured cargo must be inspected pre- and post-trip. Inspections cover the following:

  • Air lines
  • Battery
  • Brakes
  • Fifth wheel
  • Fuel tanks
  • Horn
  • Lights (head, tail, dash, stop and turn indicators)
  • Mirrors
  • Muffler
  • Reflectors
  • Safety equipment (fire extinguishers, flags, flares, etc.)
  • Springs
  • Tires
  • Wheels
  • Windows
  • Windshield wipers

How Do I Report Accidents with Motor Truck Cargo Insurance?

There are specific requirements for handling accidents that occur while transporting insured goods. It is important that the driver does not assess blame or assume responsibility verbally. Cargo should never be abandoned. All truckers should be trained in the proper procedures for accident reporting, which include:

  • Marking off the scene with flares
  • Making calls to dispatchers and emergency personnel
  • Securing the cargo and mitigating losses/damage as much as safely possible
  • Contacting shippers/cargo owners for instructions
  • Monitoring clean-up and salvage
  • Requesting a copy of the police report

What Kind of Insurance Coverage Do I Need if I Own a Trucking Business?

The following insurance coverage products are common for owners of trucking businesses:

  • Commercial auto liability
  • Physical damage coverage
  • Motor truck cargo
  • Non-owned trailer coverage

Accidents happen, theft occurs, and weather events cannot always be predicted. You can choose the best, most responsible drivers, but can never fully guarantee that no harm will come to the cargo they are transporting. Driving is a dangerous activity, especially when it comes to large trucks and vehicles. If you own a cargo or freight business, it is critical that your employees are insured. Consult with a motor truck cargo insurance professional to identify the products for your specific needs.

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Is Motor Truck Cargo Insurance a Requirement to Travel Cargo?

A growing number of risk managers are instituting requirements for truckers to insure their cargo. In some cases, federal and/or state law requires coverage. Generally, it is a good idea to obtain coverage, as transit routes often involve multiple states.

Will I Need Specific Permits if I Operate Commercial Vehicles Nationwide?

To operate in the 48 contiguous states, you will need FMCSA certification with a US DOT number. Truck registration requires IRP, Single State Registration (SSRS), and IFTA. You may also need individual state permits.

How will a Motor Truck Cargo Claim Affect my Premium?

A claim will affect your premium for approximately three years, depending on the circumstances.

What can Happen if I Do Not Insure My Cargo?

If you do not insure your cargo, you are exposing yourself to great risk. Transporting tens of thousands of dollars-worth of goods without protecting leaves a driver liable for any damages or losses. Since the cargo is the responsibility of the trucker or carrier while it is en route, and it is impossible to predict accidents, weather events, and other damages, it is critical that cargo is insured. Paying for an insurance policy is undoubtedly a better option than potentially being on the hook for an enormous sum should losses occur.

What are Common Motor Truck Cargo Limitations and Exclusions?

Some common exclusions and limitations to policies include:

  • Art
  • Jewelry
  • Money
  • Live animals
  • Storage greater than 72 hours
  • Shipping containers
  • Contraband
  • Tobacco
  • Alcohol
  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Property owned by the insured

Insurance is generally only available for for-hire trucking risks on policies with one or more of the following vehicle types:

  • Cargo vans
  • Car haulers
  • Dump trucks
  • Dually pick-ups
  • Flatbeds
  • Cement mixers
  • Box trucks
  • Trailers

How do I Choose a Policy or Insurance Product?

There are a variety of motor truck cargo insurance products available. It is best to work with a motor truck cargo professional in order to choose the best coverage for your particular needs and circumstances.

Contact Us

If you are interested in motor truck cargo insurance and would like to request a free quote, fill out our quick form or give us a call at 888-9OSPREY (888-967-7739) today. Our agents can help you choose the best comprehensive insurance products and get covered ASAP.