If you are a truck operation and you use owner operators, then yes, you should have bobtail coverage.
We have spoken to safety directors, managers, and owners at truck operations and have heard “we don’t need bobtail coverage, because our owner operator drivers are always under dispatch”. While that may be true, there is always a possibility that a driver may not follow the rules.
We have heard nightmare stories from owners of truck operations that thought they were covered, a driver had a serious accident, and the truck operation’s commercial liability insurance company had to step in and pay the claim. Think about your automobile liability insurance deductible. Do you want to pay that when you really shouldn’t have to? Of course not. So, what should you do to protect yourself?
First, if your company has more than 5 owner operators, you should contact your insurance agent and obtain a blanket policy for bobtail coverage. A blanket policy covers all of your owner operators under one insurance policy. Second, your owner operators should pay for the insurance policy. For example, if you have 10 owner operators and you purchase a blanket bobtail insurance policy for $1,000, then each owner operator driver would pay $100. Generally, this is cheaper for the owner operator driver.
What the blanket policy does for you is give you peace of mind that you have the policy in place, the premium is paid, and “knocking on wood” if your owner operator driver has an accident “while not under dispatch” you have coverage.
So, if you have less than 5 owner operator drivers you can either buy a blanket policy or verify the owner has a valid certificate of insurance showing they have bobtail coverage.
Our recommendation: call your insurance agent and purchase the blanket policy for bobtail coverage. It’s simply better risk management.