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Bobtail vs. Non-Trucking Liability

Bobtail vs. Non-Trucking Liability

Over the years, many of you have been asked to provide your trucking clients with a quote for insurance when they intend to operate under the authority of a motor carrier. You may be asked to provide a quote for either Bobtail liability or Non-trucking liability. The lease agreement your client intends to sign with the motor carrier will sometimes dictate which of these would be required of your client and at what limit of liability. Many folks think that Bobtail and Non-trucking liability policies are the same in respect of the coverage provided, but that couldn’t be further from the truth.

As you probably know, so long as your client is under dispatch, the motor carrier’s primary liability policy will provide liability coverage for your client. Bobtail insurance will provide liability coverage when your client’s truck-tractor is being operated while not under dispatch, and without a trailer attached. Bobtail insurance will not provide coverage for your client while pulling a trailer, whether the trailer is loaded or empty.

Examples of when Bobtail insurance might apply include:

  • When your client is driving to/from a garage for maintenance without a trailer attached
  • When your client has left the terminal and is driving home without a trailer attached

Many owner-operators will pull empty trailers, even while not under dispatch. Operating in this manner is referred to as “deadheading”.

In short, a Non-trucking liability policy will provide coverage for your clients while Bobtailing or while Deadheading. Therefore, it would be wise to always suggest a Non-trucking liability policy for your owner-operator clients, as opposed to a Bobtail liability policy.

Posted by Jeff Wright, AU, TRS on May 5, 2020