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Updated: Apr 13

semi truck backed into a warehouse door

Trucking companies and independent owner-operators (O/Os) alike, listen up! It’s a given that you want to keep your business safe, profitable, and sustainable, and it’s easy to talk yourself out of spending extra on specialty insurance. But what happens when a cargo load is damaged, lost, stolen, or otherwise ruined? If you don’t have the right insurance coverage, you could be on the hook for those goods. Knowing the risks you’ll face is just the beginning–we’re here to offer solutions.

Start With the Basics: Primary Liability Insurance

Before you take on any specific coverages, you’ve got to make sure you’re protected against baseline risks. You know us–we're always talking about why it’s so important to carry a primary liability insurance policy. A bare minimum of $750,000 will cover bodily injury and/or property damage to third parties. It could be though, that some clients will want and need to see a higher coverage limit. For them, you’re looking at a primary liability policy of at least $1M. Their insistence benefits you too, since that round number means that you’re better protected while behind the wheel. If you’re an O/Os under a permanent lease (LO/O) then the motor carrier you work with will typically provide a primary liability package. But if you’re an O/O with authority, then listen up–this necessary coverage is on you. When you’re looking to secure your own primary liability coverage there are plenty of options out there, but don’t get overwhelmed–your friendly neighborhood trucking insurance expert is right here to help.

What is Motor Truck Cargo Insurance?

When you’re moving goods, loading or unloading cargo, or waiting at a terminal, the potential for loss, theft, or damage is high. Trucks overturn, spill contents, and break down every day. Sure, you’re doing your best to keep your rig in good working order and you’ve secured your cargo as best you can. But you can’t account for flukes, accidents, and intentional vandalism, planned theft or hijacking. The best way to control your circumstances is to know that if something happens, you and your client are protected. This is the job of motor truck cargo insurance. Also known as freight insurance or just cargo, motor truck cargo insurance is a form of inland marine liability coverage. It insures the value of the freight you haul for your clients. And if your clients decide to take legal steps, cargo insurance will also cover the resulting expenses. This coverage typically doesn’t replace cargo but offers funds to your client of the value of their product. For most commercial vehicles, this coverage is required. That’s especially true if you’re a moving company that hauls household goods across state lines–in that case, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) requires it. What else can motor truck cargo insurance do for you? Clients will know that they’re safe to ship with you. Your reputation ultimately benefits if they know they can trust that whether a load is fine or damaged, they won’t lose out. Word of mouth is a top way to earn business, in any industry.

From base policy to additional endorsements, the potential safety net from cargo insurance is wide. You’ll be protected in the event of:

  • Collision or overturned trailer

  • Striking a load

  • Theft (actual or attempted)

  • Vandalism

  • Fire

  • Lightning

  • Explosion

  • Windstorm

  • Accidental damage

  • Water damage (due to a covered loss)

  • Equipment failure (due to a covered loss)

Depending on your policy, motor truck cargo insurance can also step in to help with lost income, rewards for tracking down stolen freight, and incident data collection. Remember that this coverage is all about the cargo–you’ll want physical damage insurance and a general liability policy to ensure that third parties and your truck are also protected. Word to the wise: motor truck cargo doesn’t mean that loads can be packed dangerously or haphazardly. We know you’re more upstanding than that, but it has to be said–like any insurance, this policy doesn’t cover negligence. That could mean a lackadaisical approach to loading and unloading, or not performing necessary maintenance and upkeep on a truck. There are certain high-profile items that are not included in a cargo policy (or most other policies for that matter) and coverages like debris removal and pollutant cleanup that might fall under another policy. Get with your trusted agent to ensure that you’re covered.

How Much Does Motor Truck Cargo Insurance Cost?

As with any insurance policy, there is no fixed price. Costs can vary widely, and they’re most dependent on the driver themselves. From one person to the next, key data points will differ, and those combine to form a comprehensive cost. Here are a few factors that can affect the cost of any type of trucking insurance, including motor truck cargo:

  • Ownership status

  • Vehicle type and quantity

  • Driving history and experience

  • Driver age

  • Claims history

  • Business location

  • Operating radius

  • Downtime storage location

  • Cargo types

  • Business type

  • Coverage limits

  • Deductible amount

Motor truck cargo insurance is built to offer coverage for specific shipments instead of broad continuous coverage, as a general liability policy does. For this reason the required coverage limits aren’t too wild. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) requires a minimum of $5,000 per vehicle plus $10,000 per occurrence of loss. That said, this is the very base level of coverage necessary. Higher limits are generally recommended, but your typical cargo will best determine the coverage you need. For the most accurate estimate, your agent will also need to know just what your truck is worth, along with all the other above-listed info. But don’t worry–whatever your policy premium is, there are always ways to save. Your trusted Insurance For Truckers by Zinc agent can help.

Work With Trucking Insurance Pros

Accidents happen. In fact, they happen more often than we might assume. If your cargo doesn’t turn up to its destination or is damaged in transit, what will you tell your customer? If you have a solid motor truck cargo policy you’ll be able to assure them that everything will be fine. It’s all about protection on the road, for you, your drivers, and your customers. At Insurance For Truckers by Zinc our trained group of trucking insurance experts know your industry and the risks you face day in and out. They can help you to decipher coverage options and insurance jargon to track down the right policy for your needs. Together we can get you on the road to protection without compromising profits. Reach out to learn more and request your free quote.



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This blog post does not provide insurance advice and is intended for information purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional insurance advice from a licensed representative. Never ignore professional insurance advice because of something you have read in this blog post. Contact your licensed representative if you have any questions about your insurance policy.

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