If you plan to file for operating authority, which is required for owners of trucking companies who wish to operate as for-hire motor carriers that transport passengers or federally-regulated commodities, you will be required by the Federal Motor Carriers Safety Association (FMCSA) to carry primary liability insurance of at least $750,000. For drivers of hazardous materials or other special circumstances that present greater risk, the minimum limit could be $5,000,000 or more. Once you have the proper insurance in place, you must submit the forms to the FMCSA.
Primary liability policies cover bodily injury, property damage, and environmental restoration after an accident. The FMCSA also requires a cargo insurance policy at a minimum of $5000 per vehicle for drivers who transport household goods. Currently, the FMCSA does not require cargo insurance for carriers of other types of goods, but it is advisable for drivers to obtain this coverage anyway. Most businesses will not contract with a carrier who does not have cargo insurance.
After you have submitted your application to the FMCSA and paid the $300 fee, your insurance company will need to submit the required forms on your behalf. These include the BMC-91, the BOC-3, and the MCS-90. The FMCSA will not issue you a MC (motor carrier) number until these forms are submitted with your application. Your MC number gives you the legal right to cross state lines with commercial vehicles and also enables the government to better track all freight brokers.
In addition to protecting yourself with adequate insurance coverage, make sure you protect your driving record and your future with an affordable legal plan. For a minimal fee, you can be sure you have immediate legal defense if you get a ticket and are at risk of losing your license or having excessive points added to your record. Driver's Legal Plan has been protecting drivers for more than 25 years.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, a division of the United States Department of Transportation (USDOT), oversees all commercial vehicle safety guidelines as published in the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR). Although each state establishes its own safety guidelines at the state level, all commercial drivers and owner-operators are subject to compliance with national FMCSA guidelines. The FMCSA has established extensive safety guidelines in five key categories: controlled substances and alcohol, driver qualifications, operational safety, hours of service, and inspection, repair and maintenance. The guidelines are published in the CFR and are updated every year.
According to the FMCSA, all commercial vehicle drivers are subject to compliance with the established safety guidelines. A commercial vehicle is defined as any vehicle that meets any of the following criteria:
a gross vehicle weight rating or gross combination weight rating of 10,000 pounds or more
vehicles designed to transport 9-15 passengers, including the driver
vehicles designed to transport 15 or more passengers, including the driver
vehicles used in the transportation of hazardous materials
Compliance with FMCSA guidelines is monitored by your USDOT number. All commercial vehicle drivers must register for a USDOT number before operating their vehicle. All companies who own/operate commercial vehicles used to haul cargo or transport passengers are also required to have a USDOT number. When a commercial vehicle undergoes an inspection, audit, compliance review or crash investigation, the vehicle's USDOT number will be used for identification.
In addition to a USDOT number, most carriers will be required to register for either Interstate Operating Authority or Intrastate Operating Authority, depending on whether the commercial vehicles they operate travel only within the state in which they are registered, or will be traveling across state or national borders. Interstate Operating Authority is required for companies who haul cargo for a third party or whose trucks travel outside of their state of registration. Intrastate Operating Authority applies to companies or drivers who only travel within their state of registration. Rules vary by state and vehicle, so make sure you have the most recent information from the FMCSA website here.
Depending on the state in which your vehicle is registered, you may also need an International Fuel Tax Agreement (IFTA) license, which helps to simplify the reporting of fuel use by carriers who operate in the lower 48 states and the Canadian provinces; and registration with the International Registration Plan, which enables the United States, the District of Columbia and provinces of Canada to recognize the registration of commercial motor vehicles registered by other jurisdictions.
Making sure you meet regulations and have the proper documentation on all of your vehicles is one of the most responsible things you can do as an independent driver or for your company and the drivers who drive for you. Make sure you also have experience legal representation on your side for any issues that arise as well, with Driver's Legal Plan. For a low monthly fee, you can have access to experienced attorneys, ready to defend you 24/7.