Bobtail Liability Insurance – Definition

Cite this article as:"Bobtail Liability Insurance – Definition," in The Business Professor, updated June 10, 2019, last accessed October 20, 2020,


Bobtail Liability Insurance Definition

Bobtail liability insurance is an insurance policy that covers only liabilities, it is used by owners or operators of semi truck.  This insurance policy provides vehicle liability coverage and can be used for trucks or trailers that are not presently used for commercial purposes.

Bobtail liability is often purchased when the driver of a semi truck is no longer under the coverage of a company’s insurance policy. This type of vehicle insurance liability provides coverage for drivers of trucks when driving the semi truck or when returning to the terminal after delivering a cargo.

A Little More on Bobtail Insurance Policies

When a truck has no trailer attached to it, it is a bobtail. If it also has a trailer attacked but empty without any cargo, it is bobtail. This is essential for the understanding of the types of vehicles that are covered under a bobtail liability insurance. This means that the driver of a trailer filed with a cargo and being taken for delivery is not covered by a bobtail insurance policy but once the cargo is delivered and the trailer is empty, he is covered by the bobtail policy.

Drivers or owners of trucks purchase the bobtail liability coverage  to provide coverage for them when they are no longer under the coverage of the company’s liability insurance policy.

A bobtail is only effective if a truck is without trailer or is with trailer but empty. A driver is protected by this policy when not hauling a trailer or hauling an empty trailer. Whether the truck is being used for business purpose or not does not determine the coverage of the bobtail policy, only the absence of a trailer or presence of a trailer without cargo does.

Semi-trucks that are not hauling any trailer are covered by this policy, even if the drivers are traveling for business purposes.

Non-trucking liability insurance on the other hand provides liability coverage for owners of operators of trucks whether the trucks are attached with trailer filled with cargo (load) or not.

References for Bobtail Liability Insurance

Academic Research on Bobtail Liability Insurance

Liability Insurance Coverage of Leased Trucks, Brewe, F. D. (1976). Transp. LJ, 8, 107.

Log truck liability insurance in Georgia: Costs, trends, and solutions, Conrad IV, J. L. (2017).

Survey of Recent Developments in Insurance Law, Shoultz, R. K. (1997). Ind. L. Rev., 30, 1191.

Recent Developments in Commercial Transportation Litigation, Flory, M. W., McNamara, K. P., Clark, R. M., & Kennedy, G. A. (1998). Tort & Insurance Law Journal, 343-355.

Survey of Recent Developments in Insurance Law, Shoultz, R. K. (1997). Ind. L. Rev., 30, 1191.

Federal and State Insurance Issues for the Trucking Industry, Franklin, R. T., & Lawless, S. (1996).Brief, 26, 26.

Classifying Workers as Independent Contractors or Employees: Observations from the Transportation Industry, Franklin, R. T., Kota, M., & Milane, R. M. (2011). Brief, 41, 24.

The Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit: A Selective Review and Analysis of the Panels’ 2010-2011 Insurance-Law Opinions, Rice, W. E. (2011). Tex. Tech L. Rev., 44, 733.

Costs of large truck-involved crashes in the United States, Zaloshnja, E., & Miller, T. R. (2004). Accident Analysis & Prevention, 36(5), 801-808.

Construction Risk Control Techniques, Church, R. (2009, January). In ASSE Professional Development Conference and Exhibition. American Society of Safety Engineers.

The Lease and Interchange of Vehicles in the Motor Carrier Industry, Goldstein, J. (2004). Transp. LJ, 32, 131.

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