Trucking owner operators have unique insurance needs, which are different depending on whether they’re operating through a permanent lease to a motor carrier or under their own authority.
In this article we’ll explain everything both types of owner operators need to know to get the insurance that’s right for them. We’ll also reveal the 6 best owner operator truck insurance companies.
- 6 best owner operator truck insurance companies
- What types of insurance do owner operators need?
- What insurance coverages do owner operators under permanent lease need?
- What types of insurance do owner operators operating under their own authority need?
- How much does owner operator truck insurance cost?
- How to get cheap owner operator truck insurance?
6 best owner operator truck insurance companies
- Progressive: Best Overall and for discounted coverage
- Simply Business: Best for comparing quotes from multiple providers
- Sentry: Best for personalized service
- The Hartford: Best for owner operators looking for a sound and ethical insurer
- biBERK: Best for low-cost owner-operator truck insurance
- Smart Financial: Best for a wide network of knowledgeable agents
Progressive: Best Overall and for discounted coverage
Progressive may seem like a less than serious company because of its ongoing series of commercials featuring Flo. You might feel concerned about entrusting your truck and business to the insurer.
The truth: It’s a reputable company that’s been offering vehicle insurance for more than 80 years and is the top commercial vehicle insurer in the United States, which is a sign that it’s doing something right. The company is known for its flexibility, great rates, and top-tier service.
Progressive is famous for its discounts, which could help you save on your owner operator insurance. You can earn discounts for things like:
- Paying your premium in full rather than monthly or quarterly
- Bundling your insurance
- Having a safe driving record
- Avoiding making claims
- Allowing Progressive to track your driving in real time
- Agreeing to autopay.
Progressive makes it easy to get a quote online or get coverage through a licensed insurance representative.
Simply Business: Best for comparing quotes from multiple providers
The surest way to get good owner operator insurance while saving money on your coverage, is to get quotes from multiple providers. The easiest way to do that is through Simply Business.
Simply Business is a cutting-edge insurance provider. The firm developed its own state-of-the-art platform, based on its proprietary algorithms, to ensure it is able to connect truck owner operators with the coverage they need at the most reasonable price. The platform makes it quick and easy to get quotes from several providers at once, making it possible to compare coverage and premium prices from highly reputable insurers all on a single screen.
The firm’s experts used their extensive experience to make sure you only have to input the information needed to generate quick and accurate quotes. The entire process should take less than ten minutes.
Once you get your quote, Simply Business makes it easy to purchase owner operator insurance online or through an agent. When you get your policy through Simply Business, it’s simple to manage your coverage online, including downloading proof of insurance, filing a claim, renewing your coverage, and more.
Sentry: Best for personalized service
Compared with many of the insurers on this list, Sentry is relatively small, which makes it possible for it to offer a more personalized level of service, especially when it comes time to make a claim. If you have unique owner operator truck insurance needs, your agent may be able to work with Sentry to get you the specialized coverage.
Sentry has been in business since 1904 and has a solid reputation.
If you choose Sentry as your owner operator truck insurance provider, you can expect:
- Flexible coverage options
- An experienced claims team that understands trucking
- Certified safety directors with more than 20 years of industry experience.
Sentry is committed to the trucking industry. The company is an allied member of the American Trucking Association and several other industry groups. It currently insures more than 37,000 truckers.
Another plus: Sentry has received an A+ rating from A.M. Best, an insurance rating agency, 30 years in a row.
The Hartford: Best for owner operators looking for a sound and ethical insurer
The Hartford is one of the oldest companies of any kind in the United States. It’s offered insurance solutions for more than 200 years and has helped one million plus businesses with their insurance needs. The company takes pride in the fact that the Ethisphere Institute named it a World’s Most Ethical Company twelve times. The Hartford’s longevity and focus on ethical business practices makes it a company that you can feel good about doing business with.
The Hartford’s dedicated and highly experienced small business team is available to help owner operators explore their commercial insurance options. If you decide to purchase insurance from The Hartford, you can rest assured knowing you’re entrusting your truck to a strong, stable, knowledgeable, and ethical provider.
biBERK: Best for low-cost owner-operator truck insurance
biBERK is a direct-to-customer carrier, ie. they sell commercial truck insurance policies directly to truckers and trucking businesses online. They offer an excellent digital experience. You can get quotes and buy a policy online in just. a few minutes.
This direct business model helps them save costs and they pass savings to their customers. In fact, they claim that their customers can save on average 20% on their premiums which buying insurance form or switching policies to them.
biBERK is a subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway, the parent company of Geico. So you can rest assured that they have a great reputation and excellent financial strength to lean on when they need to pay the claims.
Smart Financial: Best for a wide network of knowledgeable agents
If you believe that your situation is quite unique and prefer working with a knowledgeable agent who has rich experience in situations like yours, you may want to consider Smart Financial. They are a national broker specializing in small businesses. They work with a wide network of agents who are very knowledgeable about small business insurance and have rich experiences in many areas of trucking businesses.
The way it works is that after you fill out the request form on commercialinsurance.net, one of their customer services will immediately discuss with you your situation. After understanding your situation and your needs, they will find the best agent in their network who has experience in similar cases and are ready to take on your case. They will have this agent speak to you immediately. However complicated or unique your situation is, you can count on Smart Financial to find you the best agent. This agent will find you the best coverage for your owner-operator trucking business at the most affordable price.
Learn more at the best commercial truck insurance brokers.
What types of insurance do owner operators need?
That depends on whether the owner operator is permanently leased to a motor carrier or operating under their own authority. The coverage requirements for each are different.
What insurance coverages do owner operators under permanent lease need?
When an owner operator is leased to a motor carrier, they’re usually covered under the trucking company’s commercial truck primary liability insurance. This insurance covers injuries to other people, and damage to property owned by others or businesses, caused by an accident while hauling goods. (It’s important to know that this coverage doesn’t provide protection for accidents that occur when not transporting things or when using the vehicle for personal reasons or not from operating the truck.)
Other coverages owner operators are required to purchase — or typically buy — include:
- Non-trucking liability insurance, which provides protection when you’re using your vehicle for personal use and not under dispatch. Learn more at the best non-trucking liability insurance companies
- Occupational accident coverage, which covers injuries that happen on the job. This is similar to yet different from workers comp insurance. Occupational accident coverage is a “lighter” or less comprehensive than workers comp insurance. It is usually half the price of workers comp insurance. Learn more at the best workers comp insurance for truckers.
- Physical damage insurance, which covers the cost of repairing or replacing your truck if it’s involved in an accident or stolen. Learn more at the best trucking physical damage insurance companies.
- Trailer interchange coverage, which covers a trailer not owned by the driver that’s damaged while being transported under a trailer interchange agreement.
- Cargo insurance, which covers damage to — or losses related to — the things you haul. Learn more at the best motor truck cargo insurance companies.
Some motor carriers offer these specialized types of trucking insurance. However, you owe it to yourself to check out other options because it’s likely you’ll get a better deal by buying coverage yourself. Getting your own insurance allows you to customize your owner operator insurance to meet your specific needs.
What types of insurance do owner operators operating under their own authority need?
Owner operators working under their own authority are required to purchase commercial truck primary liability coverage based on Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulations. Commercial vehicle insurance covers bodily injuries and property damage caused by you to others while hauling goods. The FMCSA required limit is $750,000 for almost all business classes. However, most shippers and freight brokers contractually require $1 million of coverage.
Owner operators operating under their own authority also usually purchase:
- Non-trucking liability insurance
- Physical damage coverage
- Cargo insurance
- Trailer interchange insurance
- Non trucking liability coverage.
These types of insurance are explained in the previous section.
Although not required by most states for independent business owners, some owner operators get workers’ compensation insurance, or a lower cost alternative, occupational accident coverage, which is covered in the section above, to protect against job related injuries, which are relatively common for truckers because of the hazards they face every day.
There may be additional coverages owner operators operating under their own authority may need to secure because of the nature of the commodities they transport (auto hauling typically requires specialized coverage), contractual requirements, or state regulations.
If you’re new to trucking, it’s important to be aware that insurance for inexperienced truckers and new ventures is expensive. You must do a cost benefit analysis to figure out if a business is viable if insurance costs are factored in. It’s likely that it will make more sense to lease out to a motor carrier that will pay for your commercial truck primary liability insurance while you gain experience since this is the most expensive coverage in your commercial truck insurance package. Because of today’s trucker shortage, motor carriers are more likely to take a chance on inexperienced drivers.
This isn’t a complete list of the coverages independent owner operators may need. FMCSA rules, unique load types, certain contracts and state regulations may require you to get different types of insurance before you can start working. Make certain you always have the coverage you need before hitting the road. Your insurance agent or representative from one of the five companies on our list can help you know for sure.
Which factors affect the owner operator truck insurance cost?
Many factors affect how much you’ll pay for your owner operator truck insurance. Below are the main ones:
- Business type
- Types of things transported
- Vehicle and it’s value
- Coverage needs
- Driving record
- Operating radius
- Claims history
- Years of experience.
How much does owner operator truck insurance cost?
As we learn above, the cost of owner operator truck insurance varies depending on several factors. However, below are the average owner operator truck insurance costs for a semi truck in different scenarios:
|Truck owner operator types||Owner operator truck insurance cost|
|Owner operators that lease on to a motor carrier||$3,000-$5,000 a year|
|Owner operators that operate under their own authorities||$9,000-$12,000 a year|
|Owner operators with new authorities||$12,000-$16,000 a year|
The average costs above include all coverages an owner operator may need to operate their semi truck. Below are the average cost breakdown for each coverage:
|Coverage types||Average cost|
|Trucking primary liability coverage||$5,000-$7,000/year|
|Non-trucking liability coverage||$350-$400/year|
|Trucking general liability coverage||$500-$600/year|
|Occupational accident coverage||$1,600-$2,200/year|
|Trucking physical damage||$1,000-$3,000/year|
The surest way to know you’re getting the right insurance for you at the best possible cost is to get quotes from two or three of the insurers on our list so you can compare premiums and coverages and find the combination that makes the most sense for your needs.
How to get cheap owner operator truck insurance?
Commercial truck insurance is generally expensive, especially when you just start out as an owner operator. Below are a few tips to save money on your owner operator truck insurance policy.
- Keep your driver records clean. When you start out, your owner operator truck insurance rate is based on your personal driving record. After gaining 2 years of trucking experience with clean records, your rate will become better.
- Keep a driving logs
- Consider enrolling in a safe-driving program (apps, or other devices to monitor driving)
- Follow the best safe driving practices
- Shop around for the best rates. Different companies will give you different rates, be sure to always shop around with a few companies or with a broker to compare several quotes before making your final decision.
- Maintain and service your vehicles regularly