How Much Insurance Do Trucking Companies Have?


In order to better protect motorists, the federal government requires that any carriers (generally tractor-trailer shipping companies) involved in interstate commerce and registered with the Department of Transportation must have some type of insurance. Specifically the government requires a MCS-90 (Motor Carrier Safety-90) endorsement to pay out in case of injury or death caused by carrier’s shipping activities. Because the MCS-90 is mandated by federal law, it exists in every carrier’s insurance policy regardless of whether it’s in the written terms or not. If you are injuring a truck that should be is covered by MCS-90, you have policy that conforms even if the language of the policy contains different law. Maryland does a lot of the same thing, rewriting insurance policies with mandatory statutory language and coverage.

MCS-90 requires the insurance company to attempt to cover the victim’s damages anyway, usually up to a minimum of $750,000. This guarantees that victims of at-fault negligent carriers will be able to recover some of their damages. It is a safety net - just a small one in some cases - designed to protect innocent victims from nonresponsive carrier insurers.

Limitations to MCS-90

However, there are several restrictions on the MCS-90. For example, the truck involved in the accident must be working for a “for hire” motor carrier. “For hire” means that the drivers are being paid by another to transport goods, and this evaluation is made on a truck by truck basis. Sometimes, courts must examine the very nature of a business to see if it’s “for hire.” Additionally, the truck had to have been acting in interstate commerce. What exactly interstate commerce is can be a murky and convoluted issue, but it is again controlled by federal law. And finally, often suing the driver is not enough. Some MCS-90 provisions will only pay out only if the award is against the carrier as opposed to the driver.

Accidents involving commercial trucking vehicles can be very costly. For instance, a 2012 jury in Maryland awarded a nearly $8 million verdict for a catastrophic tractor-truck crash that severely injured a fellow driver. While $750,000 is nice guarantee for American drivers, it does not protect against anything resembling the full risks involved in truck accident cases.

Hiring a Lawyer for Your Truck Accident Case

Sometimes, the most challenging issue in a truck accident case is sorting our the insurance issues. We can sort them out. One of our lawyers is an insurance law professor and our firm has a tight handle on these issues. Whether you are a victim or a referring lawyer, if you need help with you case, call 800-553-8082 or get a free online consultation.

49 C.F.R. § 387.15


Empire Fire & Marine Ins. Co. v. Liberty Mut. Ins. Co., 117 Md. App. 72, 89-90 (Md. Ct. Spec. App. 1997)

Harco Nat'l Ins. Co. v. Bobac Trucking, 107 F.3d 733 (9th Cir. Cal. 1997).

49 C.F.R. § 387.3


Sentry Select Ins. Co. v. Thompson, 665 F. Supp. 2d 561,567 (E.D. Va. 2009).

Jamie Blake v. Jeffrey Crain and Lacoboni Site Specialists Inc; 2012 Jury Verdicts LEXIS 18329

Finding Coverage in Truck Accident CasesHandling Truck Accident Cases: What Lawyers Need to Know

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