Are trucks required to have bodily injury (BI) liability insurance coverage in Florida?
Certain types of trucks and commercial vehicles in Florida are required to carry bodily injury (BI) liability coverage. In Florida, whether BI liability coverage is required may depend on one or more of the following:
- gross weight of the truck
- if the truck has 3 or more axels
- if the truck is owned or driven by a governmental entity
- if the truck is being used interstate vs. intrastate
- the commodity being transported
I wrote an article about when bodily injury liability insurance is required on Florida automobiles. However, here I focus on the insurance requirements for trucks.
Private Passenger Trucks
A private passenger truck is one where natural persons are the named insureds and the vehicle is not used as a livery or rented to others.
Private passenger trucks are generally lightweight trucks, like the pickup truck in the picture above. Florida auto insurance policies for private passenger trucks are not required to have BI liability coverage.
Example of a Private Passenger Truck
Joe owns a pickup truck like the one in the picture above. He is not required to have BI liability coverage.
Florida BI Liability Insurance Laws for Commercial Vehicles
In order to discuss BI liability insurance requirements for commercial vehicles, I am first going to list the Florida Statutes (laws) that apply.
Don’t panic because they are long and may seem confusing. I am going to give simple examples of how they apply.
Commercial Motor Vehicles; additional liability insurance required (Florida Statute 627.7415)
Florida Statute 627.7415 says:
“Commercial motor vehicles, as defined in s. 207.002(2) or s. 320.01, operated upon the roads and highways of this state shall be insured with the following minimum levels of combined bodily liability insurance and property damage liability insurance in addition to any other insurance requirements:
(1) Fifty thousand dollars per occurrence for a commercial motor vehicle with a gross vehicle weight of 26,000 pounds or more, but less than 35,000 pounds.
(2) One hundred thousand dollars per occurrence for a commercial motor vehicle with a gross vehicle weight of 35,000 pounds or more, but less than 44,000 pounds.
(3) Three hundred thousand dollars per occurrence for a commercial motor vehicle with a gross vehicle weight of 44,000 pounds or more.
(4) All commercial motor vehicles subject to regulations of the United States Department of Transportation, 49 C.F.R. part 387, subpart A, shall be insured in an amount equivalent to the minimum levels of financial responsibility as set forth in such regulations.”
Definition of commercial vehicle for purposes of this liability insurance coverage
For purposes of liability insurance coverage on commercial motor vehicles, there are two statutes that define what a commercial motor vehicle is.
Florida Statute 207.002 says:
“any vehicle not owned or operated by a governmental entity which uses diesel fuel or motor fuel on the public highways; and which has a gross vehicle weight in excess of 26,000 pounds, or has three or more axles regardless of weight, or is used in combination when the weight of such combination exceeds 26,000 pounds gross vehicle weight. The term excludes any vehicle owned or operated by a community transportation coordinator as defined in s. 427.011 or by a private operator that provides public transit services under contract with such a provider.”
Florida Statute 320.01 defines “commercial motor vehicle” as:
“any vehicle which is not owned or operated by a governmental entity, which uses special fuel or motor fuel on the public highways, and which has a gross vehicle weight of 26,001 pounds or more, or has three or more axles regardless of weight, or is used in combination when the weight of such combination exceeds 26,001 pounds gross vehicle weight. A vehicle that occasionally transports personal property to and from a closed-course motorsport facility, as defined in s. 549.09(1)(a), is not a commercial motor vehicle if the use is not for profit and corporate sponsorship is not involved. As used in this subsection, the term “corporate sponsorship” means a payment, donation, gratuity, in-kind service, or other benefit provided to or derived by a person in relation to the underlying activity, other than the display of product or corporate names, logos, or other graphic information on the property being transported.”
Example – Commercial motor vehicle with gross weight of under 26,000 pounds
Mike is driving a truck that weighs 25,999 pounds or less. It is not owned or operated by a governmental entity.
It is not used for interstate travel. The truck is not required to have BI liability coverage because it weighs under 26,000 pounds.
Example #2 – Commercial motor vehicle with gross weight of 26,000 pounds or more, but less than 35,000 pounds
Mike is driving a truck in Florida. It is not used in interstate travel.
It has a gross weight of 26,000 pounds or more, but less than 35,000 pounds. It is not owned or operated by a governmental entity.
The truck is required to have a minimum of $50,000 per occurrence in combined bodily liability insurance and property damage liability insurance.
Let me show you how this liability insurance applies. We will assume that this truck has the minimum required insurance limits of $50,000.
Jenny’s personal injury protection (PIP) pays up to $10,000 of her medical bills and/or lost wages. But she is still left with $35,000 in out of pocket lost wages, medical bills and pain and suffering damages.
The property damage to her car is $20,000. This means that her total damages are $55,000.
Mike’s $50,000 per occurrence in combined bodily liability insurance and property damage liability insurance will pay $50,000 to Jenny. Jenny will be out of pocket $5,000.
While she can sue Mike or other liable parties for $5,000, the easier option is to make a claim under any underinsured motorist (UM) liability coverage in an auto insurance policy to which she is an insured.
Example #3 – Commercial motor vehicle with gross weight of 35,000 pounds or more, but less than 44,000 pounds
Take Example #2 except let’s assume that Mike’s truck gross weight is between 35,000 and 44,000 pounds. For this vehicle weight, the truck is required to have $100,000 in combined bodily liability insurance and property damage liability insurance.
Let’s assume that the truck has these minimum limits. Let’s assume that Jenny’s total damages are $110,000.
Jenny will be out of pocket $10,000.
Example #4 – Commercial motor vehicle with gross weight of 44,000 pounds
Take example #3 except we will assume that the gross vehicle weight of Mike’s truck is 44,000 pounds or more.
If the truck’s insurance complies with the law, it will have at least Three hundred thousand dollars per occurrence in combined bodily liability insurance and property damage liability insurance.
Let’s assume that the truck has $300,000, which is the minimum required in this scenario.
Assume that Jenny’s damages are $350,000. The most that Mike’s insurance will pay Jenny is $300,000.
Jenny will be out of pocket $50,000.
Example #5 – For-hire (In interstate commerce, with a gross vehicle weight rating of 10,001 or more pounds)
Mike is driving a truck in Florida. The truck is a for-hire (In interstate commerce with a gross vehicle weight rating of 10,001 or more pounds). For-hire carriage means the business of transporting, for compensation, the goods or property of another.
49 CFR Part 387.9 requires that the truck has minimum limits of $750,000 public liability. Public liability means liability for bodily injury or property damage.
Let’s assume that this truck has the minimum insurance that complies with this law, which is $750,000.
Jenny is driving a car. Mike makes a left hand turn and cuts Jenny off. To keep it simple, I will assume that Mike is 100% at fault for the crash.
As a result of this accident, Jenny has neck pain, back pain, lower leg fractures (tibia and fibula), a fractured ankle, a knee fracture, a upper arm (humerus fracture) and a wrist fracture. She has surgery on several of these broken bones.
Jenny’s personal injury protection (PIP) pays up to $10,000 of her medical bills and/or lost wages. Let’s say that she is still left with $800,000 in out of pocket lost wages, medical bills, pain, suffering damages, and property damage.
Mike’s $750,000 per occurrence in combined bodily liability insurance and property damage liability insurance will pay Jenny at most $750,000. Jenny will be out of pocket $50,000.
She may sue able to sue Mike or the motor carrier for $50,000. A motor carrier includes, but is not limited to, a motor carrier’s agent, officer, or representative; an employee responsible for hiring, supervising, training, assigning, or dispatching a driver; or an employee concerned with the installation, inspection, and maintenance of motor vehicle equipment and/or accessories.
If she can’t discover any insurance above the $750,000 on the truck, she may be to make a claim for the $50,000 from an underinsured motorist (UM) liability coverage in an auto insurance policy to which she is an insured.
If the Tractor Has a Trailer, Does the Trailer Have Additional Insurance?
If the trailer was owned by a different company than the tractor, the trailer may have a secondary insurance policy. This policy is in addition to the tractor’s insurance policy.
This may help you get fair value for your case if you’re badly hurt.
Do Florida’s Financial Responsibility Laws Apply to Commercial Motor Vehicles?
Commercial motor vehicles that are private (owned by the company) don’t have to meet Florida’s minimum financial responsibility requirements.
Public commercial vehicles have to comply with Florida’s BI liability limits.
State, City, Municipality and County Trucks and Buses
The state of Florida, its counties, cities and municipalities are not required to carry insurance on their commercial vehicles. The most that you can get is $200,000 per person and $300,000 per occurrence.
This is true whether a state, local or city bus, or trolley, caused your injury. Learn more about the limits on compensation if a governmental entity (county, city, etc.) or the state of Florida’s carelessness causes someone’s injury.
US Post Office Trucks and other vehicles (No limit)
There is no limit on the United States government’s liability if its driver’s negligence caused your injury. This is true whether United States Postal Truck, a customs vehicle or another federal vehicle hits you.
So you don’t have to worry about there being enough money to pay for your damages.
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I want to represent you if you were hurt in an accident in Florida. If you were injured in another state but live in Florida, I may also be able to represent you.
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