How Much Does 18 Wheeler Insurance Cost – We Break It Down

For a commercial trucking business, the cost of 18 wheeler insurance is a large portion of their overhead and trying to get it as low as possible is the goal.  Truckers want to retain as much of the profits as they possibly can, or if they have independent contractors, they want to keep them happy by not charging them as much for their portion of the insurance bill.  In this post, we’ll look at what 18 wheeler insurance costs by breaking down each line of coverage.

18 Wheeler insurance costs approximately between $14,000 to $25,000 per tractor and trailer per year.  I understand that this is a wide range, but no two insureds (your trucking company) are exactly alike and no two premiums are rarely ever the same either.  There are a lot of factors that go into determining your insurance rate, but approximately 90% of our clients will fall within this range. Certainly you could get better or worse rates than this, but it’s unlikely.

New rating factors

Actuaries are always crunching numbers and trying to understand where their risk lies most, and then charge accordingly for it.  Trucking companies are always trying to get their 18 wheeler insured for next to nothing, understandably so. The premium to transfer that risk to the insurance company lies somewhere in the middle.  

Loss severity has been going up over the last few years and in an attempt to understand their clients better, some insurance companies have started looking at credit profiles.  Ultimately, their data says they should reward those who have a higher credit score with lower premiums and discourage those who have poor credit scores from purchasing the coverage.  With some carriers, having a poor credit score can easily bump up your liability premium by 20% if not more.

What kind of driver are they looking for

It’s certainly understandable to see how having a driver with a poor record can increase your premium, that’s because insurance companies are putting up a tremendous amount of capital to insure your company.  In the worst case scenario, an accident causing severe bodily injury could trigger a limit loss and could cripple a trucking company. It’s important that you vet out your drivers to make sure they have clean records and plenty of years of CDL experience.  Till this day, we are shocked at the number of businesses that will hire a CDL driver without ever taking a look at their motor vehicle report. If you don’t vet out your drivers, we promise the insurance companies will not overlook charging you for it.

What kind of cargo you transport

As we’ve mentioned in the past, not all cargo is created equal and not all cargo insurance rates will be the same.  Cargo insurance will reimburse you in the event that your cargo is damaged, stolen, or otherwise deemed useless during your transport from pickup to drop off, but which load do you think is more valuable, the scrap metal hauler who has junk in the back or the auto hauler who transports new vehicles?  Of course you’d expect to pay a higher premium for the auto hauler, should there be an accident the value of the vehicles is worth much more than scrap metal. Truckers who transport refrigerated products, large machinery and hazardous material will also see slightly higher rates due to their value.

Liability rates

Liability rates do fluctuate from state to state and they can change from time to time, however, most states are seeing liability rates between $9,000 to $20,000 per truck for a $1M liability policy.  Every insurance carrier has their own appetite for who they will insure and who doesn’t fit their guidelines, so you’ll want to make sure that your agent understands exactly what your operations are so that they can submit your information to the right companies. 

Cargo rates

Cargo prices have a much tighter premium range as the exposure isn’t as large as the liability is.  In general you’ll see cargo insurance rates between $800 to $1500 per truck based on the goods that you haul.  That being said, you also don’t want to start shipping everything you can get your hands on because that also raises red flags for the insurance carriers.  Jumping from auto hauling to refrigerated goods to hazmat and then grains tells them that you aren’t consistent with the types of loads you accept and makes it more likely that you’ll have a cargo claim.  When underwriters see this, they will likely decline to quote your company.

Physical damage rates

Physical damage is more predictable because it is calculated based off of the value of your truck.  Depending on the underwriter, you’ll see these rates between 5-12% of the value of your truck or trailer.  As an example, if your tractor is worth $50,000 then your rates would range between $2,500 to $6,000.


Some insurance carriers are willing to provide discounts which can include sharing driving information from your Electronic Logging Device, having prior insurance, or even being a military veteran.  You should definitely mention this to your agent as these discounts can add up to 15% or more in premium savings.