As an owner-operator in the trucking industry, your business needs commercial trucking insurance, which provides a wide range of coverages. But even the best standard transportation coverage, however, may not be enough to cover all the expenses that can occur when there is an accident with an uninsured driver.
According to a 2019 study, more than 12% of drivers in the United States, or roughly one out of every eight drivers, were uninsured during this time. That means there were around 32 million people who were uninsured and driving on the road at any given time. There are probably even more uninsured drivers on the road today, perhaps 50 million or more, as a result of lapsed coverage and drivers not prioritizing paying for insurance due to the economy. In this post-pandemic world, these numbers are not good; especially since your business is centered around driving.
This is one of the reasons why owner-operators need UM/UIM (uninsured and underinsured motorist) coverage now more than ever, and this is particularly true when you live or work in an area with a high percentage of uninsured drivers.
Several states, including Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Texas, and Tennessee, don’t require drivers to have uninsured or underinsured coverage, and Florida has the highest rate of uninsured drivers at about 27%. If these uninsured drivers cause an accident, they are not required to pay compensation if the accident injures a truck driver or a passenger in the vehicle. Many other drivers in the state are underinsured and simply required to carry $10,000 in personal injury insurance, which only covers the driver and their immediate family members.
Similar to Florida, Tennessee also has a sizable number of uninsured drivers (around 23%).
As you can see, UM/UIM coverage is not only necessary when you are a self-employed owner-operator; it is also a risk management best practice for protecting you, your family, and your business.
These are some of its advantages.
UM/UIM Coverage Benefits
You may think, as an owner-operator, that your personal health insurance policy will pay for any medical expenses related to injuries brought on by an uninsured or underinsured motorist. But several conditions must be satisfied first. Your health insurance provider could consider your trucker insurance policy as the primary policy and require them to pay using your medical payment coverage first. Your health insurance is then considered the secondary policy, and will only kick in after your medical payment coverage on your trucker insurance is used up. You must also pay any deductibles or co-pays before your health insurance will even start paying. If your medical bills exceed your policy limits, you could find yourself without coverage and may be left out in the cold.
In comparison, UM/UIM coverage does not require these conditions and simply pays for the medical bills and other expenses for you and your passengers who are traveling with you in the vehicle at the time of the accident. This coverage is effective immediately and covers more than just medical bills. It provides compensation for lost wages, pain and suffering, and if your truck is damaged, this coverage can help pay the difference in expenses. For just a minimal additional premium, you could purchase up to $1,000,000 in UM/UIM coverage and have a strong safety policy in place. This is worth the extra protection.
Having unpaid medical bills is one of the leading causes of bankruptcy in the United States today, and these accidents can cause some serious injuries. There could be a need for surgeries, extended hospital stays, physical therapy, and more. Your expenses start at the scene of an accident when an uninsured or underinsured driver is at-fault, and an ambulance ride, alone, can cost you hundreds to thousands of dollars. This depends on the services that are provided on the way to the hospital, how far away the hospital is, and what your insurance will cover.
As an owner-operator, you are your business and if you are injured or your truck is damaged, you are out of work and out of money. No matter how well you drive, you cannot protect yourself from careless and reckless drivers who are sharing the road with you, but UM/UIM coverage can give you the added peace of mind you need.
Even if your state does not require you to have uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage, as an owner-operator, it is well worth the investment. When there is an accident and the driver at fault doesn’t have enough — or any — insurance, just depending on your standard liability insurance as well as a health insurance policy, may not be enough to cover you. The majority of small business owners in the trucking industry cannot afford to pay for injuries and property damage out of pocket. But adding UM/UIM coverage to your owner-operator insurance can save you thousands of dollars in the long run.
In this industry, proper planning is never an accident, and having an experienced insurance agent like J.E.B. Insurance Services will provide you with the in-depth knowledge and understanding you need. We help owner-operators in Florida, Georgia, Texas, South Carolina, North Carolina, Iowa, Illinois, Nebraska, and Tennessee make the best possible decisions to safeguard the future of their businesses.
Speak with an agent who understands your industry, listens to your needs, and finds you the best overall coverage for maximum protection. Learn more because time is of the essence, and in this post-pandemic world, where many drivers are cutting expenses, which may include eliminating auto insurance payments, owner-operators need the added protection of UM/UIM coverage now more than ever.