When shopping for trucking insurance, it's important to understand how your needs vary from other owners' needs. While most people lump all truck drivers into a single group, there are significant differences in how short-haul drivers need to protect themselves and their investment. Here are a few things to keep in mind as you talk with your insurance agent about the right coverage.
When you drive short-haul routes, you tend to have different road environments than most long-haul drivers. You'll be navigating cities more often, delivering more directly to customers in tight spots, having to maneuver around smaller roads, and interacting with more pedestrians or cyclists.
Long-haul drivers, on the other hand, tend to spend time in locations better designed for large rigs and share the road with fewer drivers. They load and unload less often and spend more time in their trucks.
In addition to the driving risks, short-haul drivers do more physical work and spend more time on customer property. All of these activities present more opportunities for you to injure yourself or for damage to occur to your truck or to a customer's property.
The risk you assume for your cargo depends on what you haul. If you carry refrigerated items, for instance, you may need added insurance that protects against loss of your cargo if the refrigeration unit physically malfunctions. Similarly, if you haul expensive electronics or garments, you may need higher theft protection maximums than if you haul beer or potato chips.
Short-haul owners also often haul trailers that aren't their own. You can choose targeted insurance to protect you from liability in the event that something happens to a trailer you don't own. Non-owned trailer coverage has several components, and it covers damage to the trailer and damage to other people or property.
Owner-operators generally take on a lot of risk because they themselves are the business. If you rely on your continued health and income to keep your business running, you need sufficient coverage for yourself and anyone who depends on your income.
To protect yourself and your income, make sure you have health and life insurance in place. Remember, your business or auto insurance policy only pays for medical bills for business-related accidents - and may not cover all your health expenses after an accident. Health and life insurance policies give you an extra cushion to cover injury expenses.
Similarly, if you fall and break a leg at home, though, you may be out of work - and uncovered - while you recover. For this reason, you should also consider disability insurance that supplements your income if you cannot work for a stretch of time.
The key to avoiding unnecessary coverage is to fully understand what you will be hauling and where you will be taking it. Try to find out specifics about the types of goods, their values, the areas you'll be delivering in, and any particular hazards you could encounter on your route. This information will help you assess coverage limits, added coverage for particularly valuable goods, or the need for specialty insurance (like terminal or warehouse legal coverage).
In addition to being informed when first purchasing insurance, carve time out to discuss coverage needs with your insurance agent at least once per year. You need to adjust your insurance coverage any time your business goes through major changes, such as taking on many new clients. Talk to your agent right away in these instances to guarantee you have the appropriate amount of coverage.
Whether you're new to short-haul trucking or just need to make sure your coverage is appropriate, make an appointment to talk with the trucking insurance experts at Finley Pinson Insurance today. We can help you tailor your coverage to your specific situation so you can save money without sacrificing protection.