Expedite Loads: What Insurance Coverage and DOT Requirements Are Needed?

Expedite Loads: What Insurance Coverage and DOT Requirements Are Needed?

Expedited trucking is all about rush transportation of goods. While like hotshot trucking, there are general differences.


Are you looking to haul rush orders or rush freight anywhere in the US? Then there are important insurance and DOT requirements you need to be aware of as there is a wide range of vehicles and trailers that trigger different requirements.

While the term expedite and hotshot are used interchangeably, it is important to note their similarities and differences first.

Hotshot and Expedite Similarities:

  • Both are “Trucking for Hire” operations (often owner-operators) for time-sensitive loads
  • Tend to operate unlimited miles to get the load delivered as quickly and safely as possible

Hotshot and Expedite Differences:

  • Hotshot carriers are often large pickup trucks pulling flatbeds, RVs, and other trailers for machinery, farm equipment, random large cargo, vehicles, and more. The combination weight of the vehicle is usually over 10,001 pounds, requiring more insurance coverage.
  • Expedite carriers are often cargo vans, and sprinter vans for pharmaceuticals, laboratory specimen, auto parts, smaller machinery, and more. The combination weight of the vehicle is usually under 10,001 pounds, requiring less insurance coverage.

Unlike other workers in the transportation industry, an expedited driver typically does not have a predetermined regular route and can deliver cargo regionally or anywhere in the US.

Overnight shipping, express shipping, and 2-day shipping are all forms of expedited shipping.

With this out of the way, let’s look at insurance and DOT requirements that expediters need to be aware of.  

What insurance coverage do Expediters need?

Let’s break this down by the different types of insurance coverages carriers need.

General Liability:

Commercial auto liability requirements depend on the overall gross-vehicle weight (GVW) when hauling.

  • Commercial Vans under 10,001 pounds GVW are only required to carry $300,000 Commercial Auto Liability.
  • Any vehicles over 10,001 pounds GVW are required to carry $750,000 Commercial Auto Liability but most brokers or shippers require $1 million coverage.

Regardless, make sure you are covered for Unlimited Mileage to make sure you are covered going over 500 miles from home base.

Cargo Coverage:

FMCSA does not require a certain amount of cargo coverage, but the shippers and brokers will. Due to the nature of expedited freight, most carry $100,000 in cargo coverage but limits can start as low as $25,000 to as high as $250,000.

Non-Owned & Hired auto coverage:

While not required, this coverage is needed when there’s bodily injury or property damage caused by a vehicle you hired but is not scheduled on your policy.

Non-trucking liability:

While not required, it is important to note that all time spent in a truck or sprinter van isn’t billable, but it is insurable. When you use your vehicle for non-business purposes, you need insurance coverage. Non-Trucking Liability offers liability coverage for property damage or bodily injury to a third party when trucks are being used for non-business purposes.

Physical damage coverage:

Any time you drive, you are exposed to risk. Your truck could be damaged in an accident or from another disaster. It could be stolen or vandalized. Any of these issues could put your truck out of commission and compromise your business. While not required on your vehicle unless it is leased, it does offer 24-hour collision coverage for damages to your equipment.

Uninsured motorist insurance:

While not required, if your vehicle/trailer is damaged or you sustain injuries in an accident that is caused by a party that does not have sufficient Auto Insurance coverage, this coverage will pay for your injuries.

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Other requirements for starting an Expedite or Hotshot business?

Federally, if your vehicle is under 10,001 pounds, then there are no DOT requirements that you need UNLESS you are hauling placard-required HAZMAT cargo.

However, this also depends on if you are contracting with another company who will find your loads for you or not.

If you are going on your own, driving a cargo van, and plan to work with a broker or use load boards, you need a USDOT and MC Number to accept freight from them.

If you are contracted with a company, you will haul cargo under their DOT and MC number, so you do not need additional compliance requirements.

For intrastate carriers (staying with your home base state lines), most states require a USDOT number if your vehicle is 10,001 pounds GVW or more.

However, some states have less strict weight requirements for a USDOT number. For example, Pennsylvania only requires commercial vehicles of 17,001 pounds GVW or more driving withing state lines to have a USDOT number.

Once a DOT number is required, you may also need:

  • MC Number
  • BOC-3 Process Filing Agent
  • IFTA Registration (if applicable)
  • Driver Files
  • Drug and Alcohol Consortium
  • UCR
  • and more (depending on what you plan haul)

Additionally, it is important to note that within the first 12 months of starting you business (with a DOT number), the FMCSA will require a new entrant audit that looks at your paperwork and make sure you are following driver file, drug testing, and other requirements.

Get help from DOT compliance experts to start your expedite or hotshot company.

If you have any questions, call (888) 260-9448 or email at info@cnsprotects.com.

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