While not legally required in most cases, motor truck cargo insurance is still essential for most carriers.
To help you find the right policy, we’ve reviewed the best cargo insurance companies based on coverage, customer experience, pricing, and financial strength.
For those just looking for a few recommendations, below are our top picks. Keep reading to learn more about motor truck cargo insurance including what it covers, insurance requirements, how much it costs, and more.
Motor truck cargo insurance is a type of inland marine insurance that protects freight while it’s being transported by a carrier.
Some policies also extend coverage to cargo while it is being loaded/unloaded or while it is at a terminal or dock waiting to be distributed.
While not required by law in most cases, all for-hire motor carriers will be required to carry motor truck cargo coverage by their shippers and brokers.
Most private carriers also carry cargo insurance to protect their own freight.
For interstate carriers transporting household goods, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) actually does mandate coverage. Intrastate carriers not regulated by the FMCSA may still be required to carry coverage by state law if transporting household goods.
Motor carriers can purchase commercial cargo insurance in one of three ways:
While cargo insurance is no longer mandated by the FMCSA for most for-hire motor carriers, practically speaking trucking companies still need to cary coverage. However, requirements can vary.
Motor truck cargo insurance covers freight that is lost or damaged while being transported and also the expenses a carrier incurs as a result of lost or damaged cargo.
Most policies will cover the following:
Regarding the events that are covered, commercial freight insurance can be broken down into two broad categories: all-risk policies and named perils policies.
Sometimes referred to as open perils policies, all-risk policies cover all causes of loss or damage unless they are specifically excluded. Because all-risk policies are more comprehensive, premiums are typically higher.
As the name implies, named perils policies only cover specific types of events named in the policy. Events commonly covered include:
While coverage will vary by insurer, most policies will not cover the following scenarios:
In addition to the scenarios above, most policies exclude the following events:
Additionally, refrigerated cargo that spoils because of an equipment breakdown will only be covered if the insurance policy includes a reefer breakdown endorsement. However, if the refrigeration equipment breaks down from a covered event, like an accident, the cargo would be covered under the standard cargo insurance policy.
Lastly, while nearly all cargo can be insured, most policies exclude high-value freight so a specialty policy may be required. Cargo frequently requiring a specialty policy includes:
Cargo insurance typically costs motor carriers $500-$2,000 a year in premiums for a $100,000 policy limit. However, costs can vary widely based on the type of cargo, the driver’s history, and more.
While cargo insurance can be purchased as a stand-alone product, most policies are bundled together with other truck insurance policies like physical damage insurance, trailer interchange coverage, and occupational accident insurance.
While the cheapest cargo insurance isn’t always the best option, there a few tricks carriers can use to find an affordable policy. To find the best rate, carriers should:
To curate our list of the best cargo insurance companies, we started with more than 20 popular insurance carriers and then narrowed down our list based on the following factors.
While our list below is a great starting point, ultimately it’s important to get quotes from multiple companies to compare coverage, premiums, policy limits, deductibles, and customer service.
Most buyers will want to work with an insurance agent but some sell directly to trucking companies.
No, Geico does not offer cargo insurance nor do they insure semi-trucks.
No, any damage done to the insured’s truck or trailer is covered under a physical damage policy.
Most policies will cover parked loads but only if the vehicle is in a secure area. Leaving a semi-truck on a city road over night would not be considered a secure area.
Most shippers and brokers require for-hire carriers to have at least $100k in coverage.
While motor truck cargo, sometimes referred to as motor carrier cargo insurance, is insurance designed for carriers to purchase, transportation insurance is typically purchased by the shipper. The carrier’s insurance is typically the first line of defense and the shippers insurance covers in the gaps.
Motor carriers are legally required to carry primary liability insurance, sometimes referred to as carrier liability, to protect damage or injuries to third parties and their properties. Primary liability doesn’t cover goods being transported, however, which is why carriers also need cargo insurance.
Motor truck cargo insurance is most frequently purchased by for-hire motor carriers and is sometimes referred to as motor truck cargo legal liability insurance.
When purchased by a for-hire motor carrier, it acts as a form of carrier liability insurance that protects third-party goods while in their possession. Coverage should not be confused with contingent cargo insurance, which is typically purchased by a shipper, broker, or freight forwarder.
While shippers, brokers, and freight forwarders require trucking companies hauling their loads to carry motor truck cargo insurance, they usually also purchase contingent cargo insurance for several reasons: