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What Is a COI in Trucking and Do You Need One?


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Aside from a driver’s license and your MC number, a certificate of insurance (COI) is one of the most important documents for owner-operators. It shows that a driver is properly insured, and without it, most brokers and shippers wouldn’t consider hiring an independent driver to fulfill a job.

We outline the importance of a COI in trucking, what a COI covers, and the proper channels for requesting and sharing a COI.

What is a COI in trucking?

A COI is more than just a policy number. It’s a formal document that an insurer creates, and it includes:

  • The name of the insured and their contact information
  • Policy number(s) and expiration dates
  • Limits on cargo coverage, liability, personal injury, and property damage
  • Deductibles

The COI also includes the name(s) of any “additional insured” parties, if there are any. Brokers or shippers may sometimes ask to be listed as an additional insured, but carriers should defer to their insurance underwriters for guidance.

What’s the purpose of a COI?

  • Verification of coverage and identity

    A COI proves that an owner-operator has at least the minimum insurance mandated by the FMCSA, and that they are who they claim to be. Fraud and identity theft continue to be a problem in trucking, so brokers and shippers will want to make sure the name on the policy matches the owner-operator’s name and government-issued identification. Only insurance companies can file insurance forms online to submit to the FMCSA. Once that’s complete, your status can be verified using QCMobile to access your records on file.

  • Compliance with business policies

    Freight brokers and shippers may have an internal policy that requires them to request a COI before signing a contract with carriers.

  • Risk assessment

    In some cases, the minimum insurance requirements for carriers may be inadequate to cover potential losses for a broker or shipper. If that’s the case, these other parties might ask a carrier to amend their coverage with a rider, which is a document that customizes insurance for specific situations.

Why Your COI Matters in Trucking

Hit the road with confidence knowing you’re covered. A COI is essential to stay compliant and keep your truck hauling more loads. A COI verifies you have the required insurance for the job, protecting both you and the shipper. Don’t get caught without one – keep your COI updated and readily available to avoid delays on every haul.

FAQ

Brokers and shippers should request a COI from the carrier’s insurer. That ensures the COI is legitimate and up-to-date, and it protects carriers from entities posing as brokers and carriers who are trying to access their information.
Insurance policies can easily lapse due to non-payment or carrier violations, so it’s not uncommon for brokers and shippers to request a new COI before each job. (Brokers who use insurance monitoring tools won’t have to manually verify coverage before every job).
Generally, independent carriers can expect to pay $9,000-$12,000 per year for coverage.

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