Cargo protection may be overlooked if you’re only concerned about the basics of commercial trucking insurance. Motor truck cargo insurance is the most common way for-hire drivers to protect the commodities you haul. When you’re hauling freight for a company you’re leased under, you must ensure the delivery is protected against incidental or accidental damages.

There are different tiers of motor cargo coverage. In addition, there are optional add-ons making it easy to customize your coverage and bulk up your protection. Many carriers today are requiring all for-hire drivers to carry their own motor cargo insurance. But even then, the required coverage may leave you exposed. If you’re just starting out or looking for new jobs, you will want to take a closer look at cargo coverage. 

Motor Cargo Insurance Defined

Primary liability insurance covers physical damage and bodily injury you cause to others. Physical damage insurance can cover the cost of repairs to trucks you own or lease. But how do you protect against damages or losses to the cargo you’re hauling? That’s where motor cargo insurance comes into play.

When you’re transporting cargo, there are many things that can go awry. An accident can cause a load to be dumped onto the road, a collision can damage a shipment, and you may even lose the entire cargo to a fire, theft or a bad accident.

When a loss occurs while you’re headed to your destination, motor cargo insurance has your back. Paying for damages out of your own pocket may financially impossible. And you may be held financially accountable for losses that are not your fault.

If you are the cause of an accident, however, you can still rely on motor cargo insurance. Cargo policies are extremely specific. The limits, deductibles, and costs all vary based on the type of cargo you are hauling. Obtaining the right coverage requires open communication and collaboration with your independent insurance agent to insure all potential loss exposures are accounted for.

Select Your Limit

Cargo insurance is unlike many other types of trucking insurance in that there is no legal limit required. Individual carriers may require drivers to have a certain level of coverage, but you’re ultimately the one who decides how much you want to insure the cargo you are hauling.

Motor cargo truck insurance limits typically range between $5,000 to $250,000. Some providers will offer excess coverage for particularly valuable cargo. The limit you choose for your policy represents the maximum amount your insurance provider will pay to cover damages or a loss. This is to consider when you contemplate the risk of damages and how much you can personally afford to pay out of your own pocket. 

Coverage Exceptions

Most commercial loads will be covered under a cargo policy, but there are some exceptions. If you’re transporting art, jewelry, live animals, pharmaceuticals, cars and any hazardous or radioactive materials, then you won’t be able to purchase a regular motor cargo insurance policy.

Cargo insurance also doesn’t cover property you own or property that’s being held by another carrier or shipping containers. The exclusions vary by provider, so if you have a specialty freight or vehicle, you’ll have to find the right type of coverage.

However, most commercial truckers will find that standard cargo insurance is perfectly acceptable for the types of jobs they run. 

Optional Enhancements

While standard cargo insurance helps pay for damages to a shipment, you can also improve your policy to cover additional expenses. A few enhancements to consider include:

  • Pollution 
  • Sue and labor
  • Earned freight 
  • Debris removal

Adding debris removal expense coverage will help pay the cost of cleanup if you spill a load onto the roadway while pollution coverage will pay for any environmental remediation. Sue and labor coverage can help protect the remaining damaged cargo until it’s delivered as well as any legal expenses resulting from claims filed by the recipients or carrier. While earned freight coverage reimburses customers for lost or undeliverable freights. 

The legal repercussions of damaged cargo can be covered when you purchase motor truck cargo coverage. The best way to ensure you obtain the strongest coverage at the most competitive premium is to contact an independent insurance agent who specializes in the trucking industry. 


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