What You Need to Know About DOT Audits

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), an agency of the Department of Transportation (DOT), oversees nearly 600,000 motor carriers and millions of commercial drivers across the U.S. The agency is responsible for ensuring carriers comply with regulations. DOT regulations cover driver qualifications, hours of service (HOS), vehicle maintenance requirements, drug and alcohol testing, cargo securement, accident reporting, and insurance requirements.

The FMCSA performs DOT audits to ensure regulatory compliance. Regulatory violations can result in fines, penalties, downgraded safety ratings, or even the suspension or revocation of a motor carrier’s operating authority.

Several factors may trigger a DOT audit, including a carrier’s high number of safety violations, complaints against a carrier, and a history of accidents. In addition, audits may be targeted to specific carriers or industries based on data analysis, or carriers might be randomly selected as part of the FMCSA’s enforcement efforts. Carriers that transport hazardous materials may also be targets of audits due to the increased risks associated with their shipments.

There are several types of audits: comprehensive, focused, on-site, off-site, new entrants, etc. Historically, the FMCSA has favored on-site and comprehensive reviews; however, off-site audits have become more popular. Off-site audits enable FMCSA investigators to analyze papers from their offices, saving time and money by eliminating the need to travel to and from a carrier’s terminal and instead rely on electronic document transfer. According to the National Transportation Association (NTA), “FMCSA offsite audits are up over 400% over the last couple of years, and they’re not slowing down.”

Documentation for a DOT Audit

A motor carrier has 48 hours to get ready once notified by the FMCSA of a DOT audit. The agency requires a motor carrier to provide the following documentation for the audit:

  • Proof of operating authority, such as a DOT or MC number, to confirm the carrier’s legal authorization
  • Insurance certificates for required coverage, including Truck Liability and Cargo insurance
  • Driver information, including license, medical certificate, driving record, and job history
  • Logs or electronic records that show drivers’ compliance with HOS regulations
  • Vehicle maintenance records, including routine inspections, maintenance, and repairs
  • Accident records for the motor carrier’s vehicles, including injuries and property damage details
  • The motor carrier’s safety policy, including drug and alcohol testing, driver training, and incident reporting

DOT safety ratings (also known as safety fitness determinations) represent a motor carrier’s compliance with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations as of the date of the FMCSA audit that led to the rating. There are three possible ratings: satisfactory, conditional, and unsatisfactory. If an audit reveals significant noncompliance, the FMCSA will give the carrier an unsatisfactory rating, eventually leading to its closure.

Motor carriers must ensure compliance and keep all records up to date.

About Western Truck Insurance Services

Western Truck Insurance Services is an insurance brokerage specializing in commercial truck insurance. We know this stuff and want to make sure you do, too. Our clients appreciate our dedication to finding competitive rates and offering unparalleled service beyond excellent insurance options. They also value how our state-of-the-art automation provides lightning-fast truck insurance quotes, customer service, insurance certificates, and coverage changes. Contact us today at (800) 937-8785 to learn more.

Behind the Wheel of Truck Liability Insurance

Truck Liability insurance is the backbone coverage for commercial trucks and their operators. The policy protects truck operators who become legally liable for bodily injury and/or property damage to others related to operating the truck. All truck owners or lessees are required to purchase this coverage and meet state and federal agencies’ regulatory guidelines.

The following coverages comprise Truck Liability insurance:

  • Bodily Injury Liability: Covers medical expenses, rehabilitation, and lost wages for third parties injured in an accident caused by the truck driver.
  • Property Damage Liability: Covers the expense of repairing or replacing property damaged in an accident caused by the truck driver. This could entail damage to other vehicles, structures, or property.
  • Legal Defense Costs: Covers legal expenses incurred in defending against claims or lawsuits arising from an accident. This includes legal bills, court costs, and settlements.

Certain minimum levels of Liability coverage are required by federal and state governments, and failure to maintain these amounts can result in fines, penalties, or prohibitions on operating commercial vehicles. For example, for operations with trucks over 10,000 pounds gross vehicle weight, the policy limit requirement is typically $750,000; an amount set by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) on interstate travel that is generally matched at the state level.

In addition, the federal and state regulatory agencies usually require the insurance company to provide evidence of Liability coverage for the operations of commercial trucks. This evidence demonstrates compliance with federal and state insurance regulations for motor carrier operations.

Motor carriers (businesses with a fleet of vehicles) and owner-operators (individual truck drivers who own and operate their own truck) may have different insurance requirements. Truck Liability insurance policies are tailored to meet the demands of all types of operations.

For comprehensive protection, in addition to Truck Liability insurance, trucking companies should also purchase additional coverages such as Physical Damage insurance, Motor Truck Cargo insurance, and Truckers Pollution insurance, among others.

About Western Truck Insurance Services

Western Truck Insurance Services is an insurance brokerage specializing in commercial truck insurance. We know this stuff and want to make sure you do too. Our clients appreciate our dedication to finding competitive rates and offering unparalleled service beyond excellent insurance options. They also value how our state-of-the-art automation provides lightning-fast truck insurance quotes, customer service, insurance certificates, and coverage changes. Contact us today at (800) 937-8785 to learn more.

The Key Differences Between General Liability Insurance and Truck Liability Insurance Coverage

General liability insurance and specialized commercial truck insurance may sound like they are one and the same, or interchangeable, but there are some key differences that can be addressed to clear up confusion. The main thing to know is that a general liability policy  is not be enough to cover a trucking operation that wants to protect their company from costly bills and reputational damage.

To better understand the right option for your trucking operation, let’s go over a few key comparisons that can help you make the right coverage decision depending on your needs.


For general liability insurance, the name itself should be an indicator as to its coverage and extent. This kind of coverage pertains to very broad third-party liability coverage not related to automobiles or trucks. Protection for injuries or property damage, such as injuries sustained while on company premises, are the types of things this kind of coverage is made for.

Truck (auto) liability insurance is meant to zero-in on the use of, and third party liability for, trucks and their operations. This kind of protection is a requirement and is usually the costliest type of insurance.Truck liability insurance protects for property damage or injuries to other people as a result of truck accidents and is required by State and Federal agencies.

Policy Limits

For Commercial General Liability insurance, policy limits are usually issued at $1,000,000 per any one occurrence and $2,000,000 in aggregate for the policy for one year. Of course, higher limits can be set depending on your operation and needs.

Truck liability insurance is generally issued at limits of $750,000 per any one occurrence which is the limit set by US DoT for trucks having a GVW over 10,000 lbs. Most trucking companies are carrying $1,000,000 limits of coverage and the recent trend is to get higher limits. For those vehicles under 10,000 GVW, or not subject to Federal DOT requirements, lower limits may be obtained. Your insurance broker can verify the requirements you are subject to.

Additional Considerations

When it comes to truck liability insurance, various policy endorsements are available. Some additional coverage to keep in mind include pollution liability, Federal MCS90 and State form endorsements that extend coverage to regulatory agencies.

Additional broader forms are available where  the policy can be issued on an “any auto,” basis, or issued with Hired and/or Non-Owned Autos which further protects the trucking company from other liability they may have on vehicles they do not own.

Regardless of all the moving parts that need to be taken into consideration, consulting with your commercial truck insurance representative is always a good rule of thumb to follow to get accurate pricing and coverage options.

About Western Truck Insurance Services

Western Truck Insurance Services is a commercial truck insurance agency with roots dating back to 1954. We have evolved into a highly respected, professionally managed, truck and transportation insurance brokerage. The hallmark of our organization is our desire to provide unparalleled service. We go way beyond what you expect to receive from an insurance brokerage. Equipped with state of the art automation, Western Truck Insurance can provide you with lightning fast truck insurance quotes, customer service, Insurance certificates and coverage changes.

What You Need to Know About Truck Liability Insurance

Just as you want to properly insure your personal vehicle, the same is most certainly true when it comes to commercial trucks. Not only does insurance provide you and your drivers with peace of mind, it could also be just the thing to keep your trucking business up and running without having to cover insurance-related damages on your own. Learn more about truck liability insurance from Western Truck Insurance Services and why it should be included on your policy.

Different Types of Truck Liability

One of the very first things you should know about liability insurance is there are several different types. Various kinds include:

  • General liability
  • Primary auto liability
  • Non-owned trailer liability & Trailer interchange
  • Motor Truck Cargo Liability

Primary Auto Liability Insurance

At the very least, you should have auto liability insurance on all your trucks, which is a requirement in all 50 states. With this liability insurance, any damage or injuries to other motorists that result from an accident deemed the fault of one of your drivers would be taken care of. In addition to primary auto liability insurance being required in all states, there are also specific minimum limits required, so be sure you meet those limits. Because there might be more than one vehicle and/or person involved in an accident, which can compound costs, it’s often a good idea to have more than the bare minimum.

General Liability Insurance

With general liability insurance, your trucks are covered when they otherwise aren’t on the road, such as when they’re parked at restaurants, in a parking lot and even while loading and unloading. You can also be covered against theft and vandalism. One thing worth pointing out here is that general liability insurance can be broken down into several smaller packages, so be sure you look over and understand your options before reaching a final decision.

Further Examples of Incidents Covered by Truck Liability Insurance

So you understand what you’re truly getting with liability insurance, there are some specific covered incidents we’d like to share. If a package is delivered and later discovered to be damaged, your liability insurance will take care of it without you having to spend money on a replacement. Should anyone become slip and fall inside a truck, any resulting injuries will be handled by liability coverage.

There’s a chance you or your business could be made the target of slander or libel. Should you decide to take legal action, your liability policy will take care of the legal fees, which is sure to bring you great personal and financial relief.

Understand Your Limits

As you can see, there’s a lot that can be covered by liability insurance for trucks. That being said, there’s just as much that is not covered by this particular type of insurance. While you’re talking with agents about cultivating your policy, be sure you ask about your limits and common incidents that fall out of the range of your policy. Even better, ask if there are any riders you can or should add to your liability policy. Also, be sure to ask about insurance restrictions you should be made aware of.

Do What You Can to Lower the Cost of Liability Insurance

Because you’ve got more to pay for than just the cost of truck insurance, it makes sense for you to find ways to reduce the overall cost of coverage. For instance, make sure your drivers remain safe while on the road since their driving records directly influence how much you can expect to pay for coverage.

Just as driving records impact how much you can expect to pay for insurance, the same is true of your credit score. This is because insurance carriers often consider consumers with low credit scores as financial risks who are likely to be poor drivers as well. No matter how you might feel about this comparison, it’s always in your best interest to do everything you can to improve your personal as well as your business credit score.

You should also make sure your drivers are dependable and trustworthy. Putting reckless and poorly experienced drivers behind the wheel can increase the chances of an avoidable accident, which can drive up your premium costs. Additionally, make sure your drivers are well-aware of the latest trucking laws and your company’s safety policy.

To know which types of truck liability insurance are best for you and your drivers, sit down with an experienced agent to go over each type and talk more about where your business is now and where you’d like to take it in the future so you always have the coverage you need no matter how or when things might change.