Trailer interchange, or pulling a trailer not belonging to the commercial or owner operator truck driver, is often done for logistical reasons. The practice minimizes gas consumption, mileage, and delivery times. Many owner operator truck drivers rarely pull their own trailers, and large trucking companies often use truckers local to different parts of the country to pull their trailers for them in those areas. A single trailer may be pulled by multiple truck drivers as it makes deliveries and picks up loads over a large part of the country.
When the truck driver agrees to pull a trailer belonging to another truck driver or trucking company, he signs a trailer interchange agreement which makes him responsible for the trailer and any damage incurred while he is pulling it. The driver ceases being held liable for the trailer once it’s been dropped off at the agreed upon place. Since it doesn’t belong to the trucker, his regular comprehensive insurance won’t pay for any damages to the trailer while under his care.
The commercial or owner operator truck driver must purchase trailer interchange insurance which provides coverage for physical damage to the trailer pulled under the interchange agreement. For example, if the trucker gets into an accident while pulling a trailer under an interchange agreement and the trailer is damaged, the trailer interchange insurance will cover the damage up to the policy’s limit minus the deductible. It’s important that the policy’s limit cover the value of the trailer, otherwise you could be held responsible for the difference.
Without trailer interchange insurance, costly damage to a third-party trailer is a big set back for the commercial trucking company responsible for pulling the trailer. However, this situation could financially ruin the independent owner operator.
Make sure that you sign a trailer interchange agreement and that you are pulling the trailer with a vehicle type that is allowed by your trailer interchange insurance policy. If you have questions about commercial or owner operator truck insurance in South Carolina, or about trailer interchange insurance in particular, contact us at J.E.B. Insurance Services, LLC.