Auto Transport Insurance Requirements – What You Need To Get On The Road

If you’re a new trucking company who hauls autos, or if you’re an existing company who has shopped around for insurance, then you realize that not every insurance company will insure auto haulers.  In fact, many of them will consider auto hauling nearly as risky as hauling hazardous material. Because this is a risky class, you’ll want to make sure you approach all the markets that have an appetite for auto hauling.  Read on to make sure you meet all the auto transport insurance requirements you’re going to be faced with.

Liability Insurance

Getting insurance for auto haulers isn’t necessarily tricky, you aren’t required to have any set of unique coverages on your auto policy, the challenge comes in finding a carrier that is willing to insure the goods you transport – in your case, autos.  So what will you need to get loads? Well, because you’re hauling hazardous material (gasoline in the car) the FMCSA will require a minimum of $1M in liability coverage. We’ve seen requirements as low as $750k but those are one-off circumstances and is irrelevant because even though the FMCSA may have a minimum requirement of $750k, your shippers are guaranteed to want at least $1M in coverage from you.

Cargo Coverage

In addition to Liability insurance, auto transporters will also be required to have cargo insurance.  The FMCSA won’t mandate the cargo coverage but your shippers certainly will. The amount of coverage will vary based on how many vehicles you’ll be hauling at one time.  For the guys with hot shots who only transport 3 to 5 vehicles at once, you’ll likely only need $100k, but for you folks with truck tractors who haul 6 or more automobiles you may be required to carry up to $250k or more.  If you haul exotic vehicles that are worth more than your run-of-the-mil vehicles are (think Porsche, Ferrari, Lamborghini, etc) then your shipper can require more from you.

Why is auto transport insurance more expensive?

Simply put, automobiles themselves are expensive and if your client receives the shipment with even the slightest scratch on them, then they will reject the load.  The smallest of repairs can easily cost hundreds (if not thousands) of dollars and if your load gets totalled then you’re pretty much guaranteed to reach a limit loss.  

In addition, the insurance carriers assume that you have been properly trained and have experience but loading and unloading vehicles into and out of the auto hauler.  Small accidents can occur before your trip has even begun, this is why you’ll find that some insurance companies won’t provide quotes for new ventures. Don’t worry, there are others out there that will.

Which types of businesses need auto hauling insurance?

There is a wide spectrum of businesses that would need auto transport insurance, but the most common ones are:

  • Trucking companies that haul autos directly to dealers
  • Businesses that do auto transport for their clients
  • Dealerships that transport using their own car carriers
  • Auto body shops that have car carriers
  • Many others…

What is not covered?

In terms of auto transport insurance requirements, you are only required to have the $1M in liability coverage, which will cover you for any damages you cause to someone else’s property, and cargo coverage which covers damages to any goods you will be transporting, but what if something happens to any of your vehicles?  If you’re involved in a collision or if any act of nature damages your truck/trailer are you covered? Not without physical damage coverage you’re not. Physical damage coverage will reimburse you for any damages that are caused to both your trucks and trailers. It is something that is rated per truck and trailer so you’ll want to make sure that all vehicles are scheduled on for this coverage.

Which factors affect your insurance rates?

Just like any other line of insurance, there are factors that can increase and decrease your premium.  The best risks in the insurance carriers’ eyes will get the best rates, but what can you do to ensure you aren’t paying more than you need to on your auto haulers policy?  Here are a few things:


  1. Radius – the further you travel the more at risk you are of getting into an accident and the more at risk you are of causing a loss. Haulers who travel shorter distances will get a credit on their insurance quotes as opposed to those who travel coast to coast
  2. Frequency – similarly, taking multiple trips per day will cause your premium to increase as opposed to taking a single load per day
  3. History – if you’ve had insurance coverage in the past (even for 24 hours) you can obtain a loss run report for your company showing how many claims have been reported and what the total loss is. A company with severe losses will pay much more than one with no losses at all
  4. Drivers – probably the most important piece of the equation is how good your drivers are. If they have moving violations or accidents (at fault or not) they you can expect higher insurance rates than one who has a completely clean record.  Insurance carriers will want to see MVRs for a three year period.


Keeping your rates as low as possible can be accomplished by focusing on just the few things that were mentioned directly above.  Insurance carriers don’t want to make it tricky on you, so you shouldn’t make it more difficult than it has to be either.

Do you have auto transport markets that will provide quotes for my business?

Absolutely we do.  We only focus on insurance for trucking companies and we have access to many markets, including ones that are very limited and exclusive.  No matter what size auto transport company, we can meet any insurance requirements you need. If you’re a new venture or an established trucking company, if you’ve had losses or are completely clean, if you have new drivers with accidents, we have markets that can provide terms.  Whatever your situation is, we can help with a quote and/or guide you in the right direction.