What Is Bobtail Insurance? Definition, Coverage And Cost

What is bobtail insurance and why is it crucial for truck drivers?

Learn about its coverage, who needs it, and how much it typically costs.

Within the trucking industry, various methods of transport and freight carriage exist, each carrying its own set of risks, costs, and rewards.

One particularly risky practice is bobtailing, wherein a driver operates a semi-truck or 18-wheeler without the trailer attached.

This scenario commonly arises when picking up a load or returning from a delivery.

Regardless of the circumstances, engaging in bobtailing often necessitates additional insurance coverage.

What is bobtail insurance?
How much does bobtail insurance cost?

Bobtail insurance serves as a safeguard for both you and your finances in the event of an accident and may be a requirement set forth by your motor carrier.

If bobtailing is a regular occurrence in your semi-truck operations, it’s crucial to understand how to secure adequate  insurance coverage.

What is bobtail insurance?

Bobtail insurance provides liability coverage while driving your truck without its hauling equipment.

It’s particularly useful when:

  • En route to pick up a new load
  • Between dropping off a load and picking up the next
  • Heading home after completing your last drop-off

Though bobtail truck insurance doesn’t cover damage to your rig, it can help with medical bills, legal fees, repairs, and other costs if someone else (or their vehicle) is injured in an accident.

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Who needs bobtail insurance?

If your motor carrier mandates it, you’ll likely require at least some level of bobtail insurance if you operate under someone else’s trucking authority.

You should consider bobtail insurance if:

  • Your motor carrier requires it
  • You regularly drive your semi-truck without a trailer or hauling equipment
  • You frequently drive your semi-truck with an empty trailer
  • You lack the funds to cover legal fees, damages, and other costs in the event of an accident

If you only drive your truck without a trailer (or with an empty trailer) during personal trips, then bobtail insurance isn’t necessary; non-trucking liability insurance would be more suitable.

Also Read: Can I Get Medicare Through My Spouse? Navigating Coverage for You and Your Partner

A note on safety:

Bobtailing is considered more hazardous and challenging than driving a loaded truck due to the absence of a trailer and much of the weight.

Bobtail trucks may be more difficult to brake, steer, or maneuver around turns.

What does bobtail insurance cover?

Bobtail insurance exclusively covers liability, so it doesn’t extend to physical damage to your rig (typically covered by your motor carrier).

Instead, it addresses damages to other vehicles and injuries to other individuals in accidents where you’re at fault.


  • Accidentally hitting a light pole while heading home after dropping off your last load
  • Getting in a wreck while en route to pick up another load with an empty trailer

Not Covered:

  • Rear-ending a vehicle at a stoplight while on personal errands
  • Getting in an accident while en route to the next stop with cargo still in your trailer

Most bobtail policies offer around $1 million in coverage, with the option to add additional coverage if you frequently bobtail or have concerns about accidents.

Also Read: Can You Lose Your Medicare Benefits? Debunking Common Myths and Explaining the One Exception

How much does bobtail insurance cost?

The cost of bobtail insurance varies based on factors like your driving history, chosen coverage limit, frequency of bobtailing, and more.

On average, drivers pay around $400 annually for this insurance, according to East Insurance Group.

Factors influencing your cost include:

  • Driving experience: More experience typically results in lower premiums
  • Coverage limits: Higher coverage limits mean higher premiums
  • Frequency and duration of bobtailing: More frequent bobtailing raises risk and premiums
  • Insurance claims history: A history of claims leads to higher premiums

Given the potential for massive damage in truck accidents and the challenges of bobtailing, forgoing insurance for this activity can be financially devastating.

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