To help you find the right bobtail insurance policy, we reviewed more than 25 of the most popular insurance carriers for owner operators based on coverage options, customer experience, pricing, and financial strength.
Our guide below also cover the differences between bobtail insurance and non-trucking liability, how much it costs, what it covers, and more.
For those just looking for a few recommendations, here are our top choices.
To curate our list of the best bobtail insurance companies, we started with more than 25 companies and then narrowed down our list based on the following factors listed below.
While all of our recommended companies are financially sound, these ratings can give peace of mind.
While this list is a great starting point, it’s important to get quotes from multiple companies as there is no single “best” insurance company. The best option can vary depending on your unique situation.
Buyers should speak with an agent or broker about their specific insurance needs because many insurers and trucking companies use terms like bobtail and non-trucking liability interchangeably.
Working with an insurance agent can also help you save time and money because they should provide quotes from multiple insurers. They may also have access to insurers that only sell through agents and not directly to trucking companies. That said, multiple insurers listed below do sell directly so you can easily get online quotes yourself.
NITIC uses the terms bobtail insurance and non-trucking liability interchangeably, so buyers should discuss their specific coverage needs with an agent and their motor carrier before obtaining a policy.
Customers can purchase insurance directly from NITIC.
Run by the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, OOIDA is an international trade association for professional truckers. Owner operators can purchase insurance directly from OOIDA without working with an insurance agency.
OOIDA distinguishes between bobtail liability, non-trucking liability, and unladen insurance so truckers can get the exact coverage they need. The company also offers temporary bobtail insurance.
While Progressive does not offer bobtail liability policies, they do offer non-trucking liability, unladen, and physical damage coverage, which will satisfy the requirements of many motor carriers.
Progressive has a great online tool for obtaining quotes and their insurance can be purchased online or through an agent.
As its name suggests, Owner Operator Direct specializes in trucking insurance for owner operators, whether they operate under their own authority or someone else’s authority.
Owner Operator Direct uses the terms bobtail insurance and non-trucking liability interchangeably, so prospective buyers should discuss specific coverage needs with an agent from Owner Operator Direct and their motor carrier. Its business is underwritten by Lancer Insurance Company.
Northland has specialized in trucking for decades, and insures local drivers and long-haul truckers alike.
Northland uses the terms bobtail insurance and non-trucking liability interchangeably, so prospective buyers should discuss specific coverage needs with an agent and their motor carrier. Insurance through Northland will need to be acquired through an independent insurance agent.
1st Guard sells directly to truckers, and specializes in commercial truck insurance and fleet insurance.
While it does not offer bobtail liability policies, 1st Guard does offer non-trucking liability and physical damage coverage, which will satisfy the requirements of many motor carriers.
Bobtail insurance provides liability coverage when an owner operator drives their tractor without a trailer. Unlike non-trucking liability insurance, bobtail insurance can cover both business and personal trips.
Motor carriers often require owner operators to carry bobtail liability or non-trucking liability insurance to avoid claims against the motor carrier’s primary liability insurance while owner operators are not hauling for the company.
Bobtail insurance is often confused with non-trucking liability (NTL) insurance and some insurers and motor carriers even use the terms interchangeably despite a few key differences.
Because of this, it’s important to confirm that the requirements set in your lease agreement match the coverage offered by your insurance company.
Covers owner operators whenever they drive without a trailer, whether they are driving for business or personal reasons.
Covers owner operators anytime they are driving for personal reasons, whether or not they are driving with a trailer.
Covers owner operators whenever they drive with an empty trailer.
Covers owner operators anytime they are not loaded with cargo, whether they are deadheading or bobtailing.
Bobtail insurance is almost always paired with a physical damage policy.
While bobtail insurance provides liability coverage when not hauling a trailer, physical damage insurance protects tractors whether they are hauling a trailer or not.
For example, if an owner operator gets into an accident while hauling a load, the motor carrier’s primary liability insurance will cover third-party injuries and property damage. However, an owner operator would still need physical damage insurance to repair or replace their own vehicle.
Sometimes the term “bobtail insurance” can refer to bobtail liability or NTL plus physical damage.
Owner operators that are leased onto a motor carrier and occasionally drive without a trailer may be required in their lease agreement to carry bobtail insurance.
Some motor carriers, however, will only require non-trucking liability insurance but may still refer to this coverage as “bobtail insurance.” In this case, the motor carrier would cover bobtailing for business purposes under their primary liability insurance policy.
While neither bobtail nor non-trucking liability insurance is generally required by law, motor carriers typically require owner operators to carry bobtail or NTL to minimize claims against their primary liability insurance.
Owner operators that own their own trailer will likely need non-trucking liability, deadhead, or unladen insurance and not bobtail liability.
Owner operators should read their lease agreement and discuss specifics with their motor carrier before purchasing a policy.
Motor carriers and owner operators driving under their own authority also do not need bobtail liability or NTL because their primary liability insurance covers their vehicles whenever they are in use.
While it may seem obvious, box trucks, cement mixers, tow trucks, and many other commercial vehicles also don’t need bobtail insurance because they cannot be driven without a trailer. Bobtail insurance is specifically tailored to lease operators driving under a motor carrier.
It’s not uncommon for owner operators to need temporary or short-term bobtail insurance after they purchase a new truck but before they sign onto a carrier. Owner operators in between carriers may also need temporary insurance as some bobtail and NTL policies require a lease agreement to be in effect.
Depending on the insurance provider, policies can be purchased over 1-5 day periods or up to 30 days.
Like regular bobtail insurance, most temporary policies are paired with physical damage insurance.
Bobtail liability insurance covers owner operators when they drive a semi-truck without a trailer for business or personal reasons.
In the event of an incident, bobtail liability insurance will cover third-party injuries, property damage, and legal fees and other expenses.
Common scenarios where bobtail coverage kicks in include the period between dropping off one trailer and picking up another, the drive home from a delivery where the trailer was dropped off, and driving without a trailer for personal reasons.
As the name suggests, bobtail liability insurance never covers trucks while a trailer is attached.
Because it is liability insurance, it won’t cover physical damage to the insured’s truck or medical expenses incurred by the driver or passengers.
Some bobtail policies are also only available to permanently leased operators so new owner operators or those between contracts may need to look for temporary insurance.
While bobtail liability typically only costs $20-60 per month, most owner operators will also need other coverage like physical damage and general liability. In total, most owner operators can expect to pay $3,000-$5,000 a year in premiums.
Owner operators looking for the cheap quotes should use the following tactics to find the best price:
Bobtail insurance covers owner operators whenever they drive without a trailer, whether they are driving for business or personal reasons.
Non-trucking liability (NTL), on the other hand, protects owner operators anytime they are driving for personal reasons, whether or not they have a trailer in tow.
The two types of coverage are easy to confuse, and they are sometimes used interchangeably by insurers and trucking companies. Owner operator should discuss the specifics with their motor carrier and potential insurers before making a purchase.
A driver under lease needs to obtain coverage for the times they drive when not on the job, for example if they use the truck for shopping or other errands on their day off. Non-trucking liability insurance covers instances like these, whether driving with or without a trailer.
Owner operators might drive their tractor without a trailer while on the job or in their personal time. For example, a driver might head from a drop-off location to a new pick-up without a trailer, which bobtail liability insurance would cover.
The two terms are often used interchangeably because there are many instances when either bobtail insurance or non-trucking liability would cover the operator. For example, driving without a trailer for personal reasons could be covered under either insurance type. Leased owner operators are typically required to get one type of coverage or the other but not both. The motor carrier will be the entity that makes that determination.
Driving without a trailer is more common for the average owner operator than driving a semi for personal reasons so bobtail insurance is often more expensive than non-trucking liability.
Deadheading is driving a truck with an empty trailer attached.
Deadheading is sometimes confused with bobtailing because both situations involve driving without cargo. However, deadheading is driving with an empty trailer that is still attached to the tractor while bobtailing has no trailer attached.
Because the trailer is still attached while deadheading, weight distribution throughout the truck is not compromised to the same extent as it is when a truck is bobtailing, which means deadheading is comparatively less dangerous. The reduced risk means deadhead insurance policies are often less expensive than bobtail insurance coverage.
Unladen liability insurance provides coverage while a truck is driven with an empty trailer or without one.
Unladen liability insurance covers semi-trucks any time they are not loaded with cargo, whether they are deadheading with an empty trailer or bobtailing without a trailer at all.
Unladen liability insurance, which some motor carriers require for their owner operators, makes no distinction between a truck is being used for business or non-business purposes. Coverage kicks any time the truck is without cargo.
Unladen liability insurance is a newer type of insurance and because it is more comprehensive some policies can cost more than bobtail or deadhead insurance. Leased operators should thoroughly explore their options with a motor carrier before obtaining an unladen liability policy.
While bobtail insurance is not required by law, motor carriers typically require their owner operators to either carry bobtail insurance or non-trucking liability insurance.
No, while non-trucking liability and bobtail insurance are often confused, the two policies cover different scenarios.
Non-trucking liability covers owner operators when they are not under dispatch whether or not they are hauling a trailer.
Bobtail, on the other hand, covers owner operators when they are not hauling a trailer, whether or not they are under dispatch.
No, bobtail insurance does not cover damage done to the insured’s vehicle. However, most bobtail policies are paired with physical damage coverage.
No, Geico does not offer bobtail insurance as they don’t offer any commercial auto insurance for semi-trucks.
When a semi-truck is driven without a trailer attached, it is commonly referred to as “bobtailing.”
Deadheading is when a truck driver is not hauling a load but the trailer is still attached.
Bobtail tractors are harder to stop because most of a semi-truck’s braking power is in the rear axles and without the weight of the trailer bearing down on those axles, the braking power is greatly diminished.
Additionally, because most of the weight is over the front axle while bobtailing, steering also becomes more difficult.
In fact, multiple studies including reports by the Society of Automobile Engineers, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, and the Michigan Department of Transportation show that bobtail trucks are overrepresented in big rig accidents, including those that cause fatalities or major property damage.