According to the most recently available annual statistics from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, trucks were involved in more than 164,000 reported collisions occurring on the nation’s roadways. As a truck owner, one of the concerns you may have in the aftermath of a truck accident should be about what action, if any, your insurance company takes to cancel or refuse to renew your insurance coverage.
For anyone whose livelihood depends on keeping a truck on the road, an inability to comply with insurance requirements set by state and federal laws could mean financial ruin. Here is the information you need to help you to recognize the options available to you to make informed decisions about insurance for your truck after an accident.
Complying with state and federal insurance regulations
Mandatory insurance requirements exist under state and federal law, but the challenge is to first decide which of them apply to you and your truck. Some of the questions you need to ask to decide on the laws that apply to your vehicle include the following:
(1). Where will you be registering the truck?
(2). What is the gross weight of the vehicle?
(3). Is the vehicle used in a commercial enterprise?
(4). Will the truck be used in more than one state?
(5). What type of cargo, if any, will the truck carry?
Federal law requires that trucks weighing over 10,000 pounds that carry non-hazardous cargo across state lines must have at least $750,000 in liability insurance. If the truck weighs less than 10,000 pounds, the federal minimum liability insurance requirement is $300,000.
If you plan to register and title your truck in only one state, you should check with its department of motor vehicles to find out what its regulations are about insurance coverage. Some states, such as Maryland, enforce the federal insurance requirements for commercial vehicles, but others may have their distinct insurance requirements.
Registering a truck that is not used commercially still requires that you comply with mandatory insurance laws to receive license plates and legally operate it on roads in your state. For instance, all vehicles registered and titled in Maryland must carry at least the following minimum insurance coverage from an insurance carrier authorized to do business in the state:
(A). $30,000 in bodily injury coverage for each accident.
(B). $60,000 in bodily injury coverage for accidents involving claims for injuries by two or more people.
(C). $15,000 in property damage coverage.
Bodily injury coverage protects you against claims made by someone injured in an accident involving your vehicle. If an auto accident lawyer files a lawsuit against you claiming that you were at fault in causing the truck accident, the liability insurance policy containing the bodily injury coverage applies. Your insurance company will pay the cost of legal representation to defend you against the claim and pay any negotiated settlement or court verdict up to the coverage limits of the policy.
Know your insurance policy
An insurance policy is a contract or agreement between you and the company that issued it. As with other types of contracts, it creates the rights and obligations that each party may enforce against the other. It creates the obligation of the insurance company to defend you and pay claims arising from an accident involving your truck provided you notify the company of the accident in the manner required by the policy.
Also included in the policy are conditions under which an insurance company may cancel or refuse to renew the coverage. For example, the company may cancel the policy when you fail to pay the premium. An accident may not cause a company to cancel your policy, but it could cause it to refuse to elect not to renew it when the policy expires.
While state law may not prevent a company from refusing to renew a policy, it may require that you be given notice of the decision. For instance, Maryland law requires that an insurance company send a written notice of its intention to cancel or refuse to renew your policy to your last known address. The notice must be sent at least 45 days before the expiration or cancellation of the policy.
Getting insurance for a truck after an accident
If your insurance company paid a claim because you were found to be at fault for causing an accident, it may refuse to renew the policy. The accident may also make other companies refuse to issue a policy. You may have an option through an assigned-risk or high-risk insurance program available in your state.
An assigned-risk program matches insurance companies willing to issue policies to motorists with less than stellar driving records. In exchange, the company may charge more for the policy.
Another option may be specialized insurance agencies and brokerages that cater to truck drivers and owners who may be unable to obtain coverage because of an accident. The premiums may be higher than normally charged and the coverage limited.
Do not concede fault
If you have been injured in a truck accident, it is in your best interest to schedule a consultation with a personal injury attorney. The fact that someone injured in the accident makes a claim against you for damages may not mean that you were at fault. Let an attorney review the case and advise you about your rights.