Bottom Line
Insurance Update
Spring Into Action

I don't know about you, but springtime is my favorite season. The definition of "spring" in the dictionary just doesn't do it justice, as it simply calls this time of year, "the season between winter and summer." However, when used as a verb, "spring" means to jump, arise or emerge, and to cause to act suddenly. That's more like it!

Now that the weather is getting warmer, and the interstates and highways are busier, many of us will be thinking about updating our insurance coverages. Now's the time for you to "spring" into action and give your agent a call to make sure that you're adequately covered in case you have an accident, or to simply update your coverages.

The kids should be getting out of school for vacation soon (if they haven't already), and you'll probably have to make good on that promise to take them on a road trip. Some motor carriers are reluctant to allow you to take your family with you because of the added exposure, but others have gotten wise to a coverage offered by OOIDA. It's called "passenger accident," and you should have it to protect your loved ones. With a passenger accident policy, "little Suzie's" medical expenses are covered if she twists her ankle while climbing out of the truck, and you won't even have to pay a deductible.

While you're talking to your agent about passenger accident coverage, you may also want to check into a "breakdown" policy. If it hasn't happened to you already, it's bound to happen someday! I'm talking about an emergency roadside breakdown. It's bad enough having to wait for a tow truck on the shoulder of a busy interstate, but thinking about having to pay for that tow can be even more frustrating. However, with breakdown coverage, you'll be reimbursed for any roadside labor and/or a tow to the nearest repair facility. The money you'll save with this policy will more than pay for the premium.

If you've recently changed your motor carrier, or just haven't taken a good hard look at your lease lately, now's the time to start reading. Take particular note of the insurance section of your contract. The authorized motor carrier is required by law to provide liability protection to the public for all owned and/or operated equipment, as stated in your lease agreement.

However, most motor carriers include "hold harmless" clauses within the lease that transfer some insurance responsibilities to the owner-operator. If your contract specifies that you agree to maintain "bobtail liability," you'd better check your insurance coverages to make sure that's what you have, because "non-trucking liability" does not provide the same protection. The same thing applies if your lease requires "unladen liability." These are three liability coverages that are often confused, and you can't always count on your motor carrier to know which is which, so it's best to check with your agent.

"Non-Trucking liability" is liability protection for leased owner-operators that provides coverage while the truck is being operated for personal convenience, outside the scope of the motor carrier's control or direction, and with no economic benefit to the owner-operator or the lease company. In addition, you must have reached your regular place of garaging, then set out again for a personal endeavor (i.e. trip to the grocery store for milk), in order for the NTL to apply. This is a very limited coverage and not intended to pay for losses incurred while driving to and from your terminal, or to the repair shop.

"Bobtail liability" is liability protection for leased owner-operators that provides coverage while the truck is being operated without a trailer attached, whether dispatched or not. This coverage does not include "deadhead," so if you're pulling a trailer, whether empty or loaded, "bobtail" is not for you.

"Unladen liability" is liability for leased owner-operators that provides coverage while the truck is being operated with an attached empty trailer, or without any trailer at all, whether dispatched or not. This coverage offers more protection than either non-trucking liability or bobtail liability, but it is more expensive. Always check your lease agreement to make sure you are meeting your contractual obligation and save you from any "financial headaches" if you become involved in an accident.

"Physical damage" is a coverage that most owner-operators want in order to protect the investment they have in their equipment. However, keep in mind that unless you request protection for items such as tarps, chains, and binders, they won't be specified on your policy, and therefore won't be covered. Permanently attached items such as auxiliary generators and headache racks that become an integral part of the truck may be included on the physical damage policy as long as your agent is aware that you want coverage for them.

Personal items such as cellular phones, personal computers, CB radios, and other items that have their own function apart from the truck, can be insured with a "personal property rider." You should speak with your agent and request this rider if you want any personal items covered that are not insured under another policy (such as your homeowner's insurance).

You can call your OOIDA truck insurance agent any season of the year to update your coverages and get your questions answered. However, since you're probably getting started on that "spring cleaning" routine anyway, there's no better time than the present to dust off that old lease agreement and make sure your current policy still offers adequate protection. It's also an excellent time to ask about upgrading your coverages by adding breakdown, passenger accident, or personal property insurance to your portfolio.

We will be happy to answer any of your insurance questions.  Simply contact OOIDA's truck insurance agents toll free at 800-715-9369 or e-mail me at .