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California Commercial Trucking Insurance

Local truck drivers and new businesses are required by California law to maintain a certain amount of liability insurance. How much you need depends on the nature and location of the freight you transport.

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    California Commercial Trucking Insurance
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      What kind of truck do you have?

      When do you need it?

      California Commercial Trucking Insurance

      California is a prominent state on the western coast of the United States that is industrially diverse and highly developed. Due to the establishment of various businesses, this area has attracted investors and expanded the number of international settlements. Due to the rise in import and export demand, trucking companies in California are currently in great demand.

      These trucking companies efficiently and efficiently convey vast volumes of goods around the United States, Mexico, and Canada. They include superior storage and warehousing facilities that safeguard your packages and prevent their loss. Few trucking businesses offer door-to-door delivery services and have strong customer support personnel that are always available to resolve client disputes or questions.

      According to the Department of Motor Vehicles, there are 640,445 active Class A and Class B commercial driver's license holders in California alone. As per the state Employment Development Department, there are now just 140,000 jobs in "truck transportation" in the state, making it in high demand.

      Requirements For Commercial Trucking Insurance In California

      Requirements For Commercial Trucking Insurance In California

      Local truck drivers and new businesses are required by California law to maintain a certain amount of liability insurance. How much you need depends on the nature and location of the freight you transport.

      If you do not cross state lines and your vehicle has a GVW of above 10,000 pounds, you are required to obtain a CA Intrastate ID Number (T#) and be insured up to the following levels:

      $1,000,000 Liability Insurance (Oil Transport)
      $5,000,000 Liability Insurance (Hazmat)
      $300,000 Liability Insurance (Household Goods)
      $750,000 Liability Insurance (General Freight)
      $20,000 per vehicle $20,000 per catastropheCargo Insurance (Intrastate Household Goods Movers & Interstate Contract Carriers)

      Comprehensive insurance requirements are imposed on truck drivers who travel to various states. You must also comply with all FMCSA requirements regarding semi-truck insurance. Federal liability limitations are typically $750,000 or $1,000,000.

      Your insurance agent must submit specific filings to both California and the USDOT. Your insurance agent or company should handle these files on your behalf. These forms demonstrate to the government that you have met all DOT truck insurance requirements. They must be submitted prior to receiving authorization. Common forms include:

      Other Coverages Required For Interstate Truckers

      Other coverages you may require include:

      Trucking Primary Liability InsuranceThis is the primary coverage that all truck drivers must carry. All state and federal regulations require it. It covers the third party's bodily injuries and property damage if you are responsible for an accident. It may also include medical payment coverage and noninsured/underinsured coverage.
      Cargo InsuranceThis covers the contents of your trailer. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) does not mandate this coverage, but most for-hire interstate owner-operators will urge you to get one. If you lack it, they will not hire you. Normal cargo insurance limits are $100,000. However, you may require a larger limit if you transport especially valuable items.
      Bobtail InsuranceThis coverage applies when you drive your truck without a trailer. If you operate a truck under your own control, you will require this coverage. If you lease a vehicle from a motor carrier, you can determine whether this or other coverages are required in your leasing agreement. Likely, the motor carrier covers only your primary trucking liability insurance, but you must clarify this with them.
      Non-trucking Liability InsuranceThis coverage protects you in the event of an accident while driving your truck without any cargo.  Often, bobtail and non-trucking liability are comparable but subtly different.
      Trucking Physical DamageThis secures your tractor or trailer in the event of an accident. This coverage is necessary for truck financing. Even if you don't need it, you should purchase one. Your truck is your source of income. If it sustains significant damage in an accident, you may have to pay for repairs out of pocket. Truck repairs are costly, and an accident could threaten the profitability of your trucking company.

      Types Of Trucks Covered By Commercial Trucking Insurance In California

      Every type of truck is insurable. You may need to research to acquire coverage for your vehicle, as different insurers offer coverage for various types of vehicles.

      The following are examples of common truck types covered by the majority of insurers:

      Types Of Trucks Covered By Commercial Trucking Insurance
      • Box trucks
      • Tow trucks
      • Pickup trucks
      • Tractor-trailers
      • Cement mixers
      • Dump trucks
      • Semis
      • Log truck

      Cost Of Commercial Trucking Insurance In California

      According to research, the annual average cost of commercial vehicle insurance in California is approximately $14,000. This includes coverage for liability, cargo, and physical damage for a single truck. Insurance coverage might range from less than $12,000 to over $16,000.

      Consider these rates as benchmarks. Numerous variables affect the cost of coverage, including:

      • Driving history
      • Vehicle value
      • What you haul
      • Number of trucks
      • Number of drivers
      • Years in business

      Commercial Vehicle Registration In California

      Commercial vehicles in California must be registered if they are designed, utilized, or maintained mainly to carry property or people for hire, pay, or profit.

      Partial Year Registration

      Partial year registration (PYR) may be used for commercial motor vehicles not operated during a calendar year. PYR may be valid for any period between 1 and 12 months.

      Applying For The PYR

      To apply for PYR, you must accomplish the following prior to the expiration date of your yearly registration:

      • Inform the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) via mail or in person of your desire to operate the motor vehicle for a period of the year
      • You must pay applicable fees:
        • Pickups weighing less than 8,000 pounds unloaded or motor vehicles weighing less than 10,001 pounds: Pay the full registration, county, and vehicle license fees, as well as the prorated unladen weight and PYR service fees for the first period of anticipated use.
        • Vehicles with a gross vehicle weight of at least 10,001 pounds: Pay the full registration, vehicle license, county, PYR service, Cargo Theft Interdiction Program (CTIP), prorated Commercial Vehicle Registration Act (CVRA), and CVRA decal fees for the first anticipated use period. The CTIP charge is not required for pickups, tow trucks, or vehicles used primarily to transport people for hire, including buses, electric-powered vehicles, ambulances, limousines, taxis, and some vans (if used only for passenger transport).

      To register your commercial motor vehicle for the second and subsequent uses during the same calendar year, you must inform DMV by mail or in-person to:

      International Registration Plan

      The International Registration Plan (IRP) is an alternative for registering commercial vehicles that permits interstate operation with a single license plate and registration certificate (cab card) provided by the "base" state.

      How Does It Work?

      IRP can help you save money on registration fees if your commercial vehicle is used in two or more states. When registering a commercial vehicle in IRP, fees are prorated based on the proportion of highway distance traveled in each jurisdiction.

      For instance, if an interstate vehicle travels 50% of its total distance in California and 50% in Nevada, it is billed 50% of the registration fees in each state (instead of paying the full amount in each state). Your base jurisdiction processes the fees for all jurisdictions where the vehicle works through IRP Clearinghouse.

      Which Vehicles Qualify?

      You may register any vehicle that fulfills the description of "commercial vehicle" in the California Vehicle Code (CVC) and operates in California and at least one other state.

      When traveling outside of California, the majority of commercial vehicles with a gross vehicle weight (GVW) or combined gross weight (CGW) of 26,001 pounds or over must obtain IRP registration or alternative commercial trip licenses from the appropriate foreign jurisdictions. Under reciprocal agreements, vehicles weighing 26,000 pounds or less and traveling entirely interstate may be free from IRP or temporary commercial trip permits.

      If you opt not to register for IRP, you must always contact the foreign jurisdiction you are heading to, regardless of your vehicle's operating weight or operational plans.

      Applying For The IRP

      Submit the following to register a car or fleet of vehicles in IRP:

      The validity of an IRP registration is one year, beginning on the first day of the designated month. To avoid penalties, IRP vehicles and fleets must be renewed annually by midnight on the last day of the designated registration period.

      Permanent Fleet Registration

      The Permanent Fleet Registration (PFR) program is a straightforward solution for fleet owners to maintain vehicle registration. After eligible intrastate commercial fleet vehicles are registered in the PFR program, owners can exhibit continuous registration credentials on their vehicles and renew registrations via a monthly vehicle listing instead of receiving individual vehicle-renewal reminders.

      PFR Program Benefits

      The PFR program is intended to improve fleet registration for large fleet owners:

      • To renew the registration card and year sticker, fleet owners do not have to locate each vehicle in their fleet
      • Instead of receiving individual notices to renew their vehicle registration, fleet owners are reminded monthly through a listing
      • Weight decal PFR stickers, permanent license stickers, and registration cards with the expiration month are issued to vehicles
      • The vehicle registration credentials are active so long as the fleet owner owns or leases the vehicle and it is currently registered. If the vehicle's registration has expired or will expire within 75 days of its inclusion in the fleet, you must pay all renewal fees and penalties

      Qualifying For The PFR Program

      For fleets to qualify for the program, they must:

      • Comprise at least 50 commercial motor vehicles or passenger vehicles (motorcycles and trailers are not eligible). Participation is permitted for fleets with a minimum of 25 vehicles provided an authorized registration service agent submits multiple fleets totaling 250 or more vehicles
      • Show the business name, trademark, or logo of the company on both the right and left sides of each vehicle. This information must be clearly legible from 50 feet away. Additionally, there are exceptions for certain utility company vehicles
      • If necessary, provide any additional renewal requirements, including owner's responsibility citation clearance and service fee, parking violation bail or clearance, and smog certification

      Applying For The PFR Program

      To apply for the PFR program:

      If the application is accepted, DMV will assign and write the PFR account number on the MC 3500 P and fax it back to you.

      To finish the application process:

      • Your Side B of the MC 3500 P should contain a list of all PFR-eligible vehicles
      • Send the application to the address stated on Form MC 3500 P
      • If necessary, provide any additional renewal requirements, including owner's responsibility citation clearance and service fee, parking violation bail or clearance, and smog certification

      When the PFR application is submitted within 75 days of the renewal date, all fees and penalties associated with vehicle registration renewal must be paid.

      Categories Of Commercial Vehicle 

      Categories Of Commercial Vehicle 

      The majority of trailers and commercial motor vehicles with a gross vehicle weight (GVW) or combined gross vehicle weight (CGW) of 10,001 pounds or more must be registered as commercial vehicles. Depending on their intended use, commercial motor vehicles may include:

      • Buses: When used to transport individuals for compensation or profit.
      • Motor trucks: A motor vehicle mainly intended, operated, or maintained for the transportation of goods.
      • Pickups: A commercially utilized motor vehicle with a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of less than 11,500 pounds, an unladen weight of less than 8,001 pounds, and an open box-style bed less than nine feet long.
      • Tow trucks: A motor vehicle used to transport vehicles with a hoist, crane, tow line, tow bars, or dolly, and operated primarily for this purpose.
      • Truck tractor: A motor vehicle built and utilized largely for towing and not constructed to carry a load other than a portion of its own weight and load.
      • Water-well drilling rigs: Aside from agricultural and oversized water-well drilling rigs, all other vehicles must be registered as commercial vehicles.
      • Yard trucks: Specialized vehicles for transporting trailers in and around freight operation yards in preparation for storage or loading.
      • Depending on their intended usage, passenger vehicles, multipurpose vehicles, pickup trucks, and station wagons can be registered as either passenger or commercial vehicles.


      These vehicles are not classified as commercial vehicles for registration purposes:

      • Vanpool vehicles: A motor vehicle, other than a motor truck or truck tractor, built to accommodate more than 10 but fewer than 15 passengers (including the driver), which is kept and used largely for the transportation of adults for work-related purposes.
      • Passenger vehicles: Not used to transport individuals for hiring, compensation, or profit.
      • Housecars or motorhomes
      • Trailer coaches: Trailer coaches may transport goods, but they are primarily intended for human occupancy.
      • Military equipment: Owned or operated by the U.S. Department of Defense, including the National Guard, by non-civilian people.
      • Implements of husbandry: Vehicles driven by individuals who are not required to possess a valid driver's license.

      How To Register Commercial Vehicles

      To register a commercial vehicle, submit the following:

      How To Register Trailers

      Except for park trailers and trailer coaches, which are exempted from the permanent trailer identification (PTI) program and registered annually, all trailers are registered under the PTI program. Depending on its length, width, and size, fifth-wheel trailers and camp trailers are listed as a trailer coach (not PTI) or a camp trailer (PTI).

      In California, tow/auxiliary dollies are not required to be registered. You may, however, choose to register as PTI. If you do not register as a PTI, you must remove and return your current license plate.

      While registration as a PTI is optional for tow/auxiliary dollies in California, you may wish to register it as such if you intend to tow it out of state, as the registration procedures of other states differ.

      To register a permanent trailer, submit the following:

      Frequently Asked Questions 

      Below are some of the frequently asked questions regarding vehicle registration:

      What is the difference between declared GVW and GCW?

      Declared GVW equals the sum of the vehicle's unloaded weight and the heaviest load that will be transported.

      Declared CGW is the entire unladen weight of the vehicle combination (vehicle and trailer) plus the heaviest load that will be conveyed by that combination.

      What should I do if I make body changes or alterations to a registered commercial vehicle?

      DMV must be notified of any alterations and/or additions that bring a registered used commercial vehicle into a different weight classification. If the altered vehicle falls into a heavier weight class, additional weight fees are owed on the date of its first use after the modification or addition. It is not possible to receive a refund of weight fees paid when a modified vehicle falls into a lower weight class.

      I made a change to my vehicle requiring it to be registered as a commercial vehicle. How do I convert from auto to commercial license plates?

      The following vehicles are eligible for registration with automobile or commercial license plates:

      - Pickups with a permanently attached camper body type code (BTC) PM
      - Station wagons
      - Passenger-type vehicles transporting individuals for hire

      Is there any trucking association or union per state? 

      The trucking industry, like many other significant industries, has a number of excellent associations. These trucking associations were established to advocate on behalf of owner-operators, fleet owners, and trucking companies. Below is a list of the best trucking associations:

      1. American Trucking Associations
      2. Trucking Industry Defense Association
      3. Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association
      4. National Association of Small Trucking Companies (NASTC)
      5. National Association of Independent Truckers
      6. National Truckers Association
      7. Women In Trucking Association

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      Truck Stops In California

      • Alameda
      • Butte
      • Fresno
      • Glenn
      • Humboldt
      • Imperial
      • Kern
      • Kings
      • Los Angeles
      • Madera
      • Mendocino
      • Merced
      • Monterey
      • Placer
      • Plumas
      • Riverside
      • Sacramento
      • San Bernardino
      • San Diego
      • San Joaquin
      • San Luis Obispo
      • San Mateo
      • Santa Barbara
      • Shasta
      • Solano
      • Sonoma
      • Stanislaus
      • Tehama
      • Tulare
      • Ventura
      • Yolo

      Visit this for more information about the truck stops in California.

      Quick Traffic Safety Statistics In California 


      • Statistic of overall traffic fatalities in California
      • The Mileage Death Rate (MDR) for 2019 is 1.06 fatalities per 100 million miles driven

      Alcohol-Impaired Driving

      • Alcohol-impaired driving fatalities declined 4.5% from 1,116 in 2018 to 1,066 in 2019

      Drug-Impaired Driving

      • 50% of all drivers died in motor vehicle accidents in 2019 who were tested tested positive for legal or illegal drugs, an increase of 8% from 2018

      Occupant Protection

      • Deaths of unrestrained car occupants in all seating positions declined by 2.4% from 635 in 2018 to 620 in 2019

      Other Insurance Types

      Also Learn about New Jersey Bonds Insurance

      It is advisable to obtain many commercial truck insurance quotes and compare them in order to choose the most affordable insurance.

      As you navigate the realm of California Commercial Trucking Insurance, don't miss our blog post for a deeper dive. Explore our insights on California General Liability Insurance to ensure your business is well-rounded in its coverage. Your path to comprehensive protection begins now.

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