Trucker . . . or Motor Carrier?

tractor  So . . . Are you a “trucker” or a “motor carrier?”

Ask anyone involved in trucking if they are a “trucker” or a “motor carrier” and they might scratch their heads as they give you a funny look.

While it’s true that when it comes to insurance, the policies are almost identical, the two terms are not—at least in the world of insurance.

Why the difference?

One effect of Motor Carrier Act of 1980 was that private carriers who were not in the trucking business could sell some of their capacity. Perhaps a widget factory hauled a load of widgets to a destination, and returned empty (deadheaded back). This was not only an inefficient use of resources, but clogged the highways with empty trucks. Once trucking was deregulated, in 1993 the Insurance Services Office, Inc. (ISO), created the Motor Carriers Coverage Form for private carriers.

The term trucker is defined as “A person, firm or corporation in the business of transporting goods, materials or commodities for another.” Commercial Lines Manual

Who is a Trucker?

The term trucker is defined as “A person, firm or corporation in the business of transporting goods, materials or commodities for another.” So says the Commercial Lines Manual. So anybody that in the business of hauling stuff for others is considered a trucker for insurance purposes.

On the other hand, the definition of a motor carrier is, “A person or organization providing transportation by auto in the furtherance of a commercial enterprise.” This is anybody using trucks, but not really in the trucking business.

Does it make a difference?

Unless you are directly involved with insurance, there is not much difference in the terms. “Trucker” or “motor carrier” can be used interchangeably.

But if you are dealing with your insurance company, for purposes of clarity, you may want to specify if you are a trucker or a motor carrier.

Keep in mind that the U.S. Department of Transportation has its own set of definitions as well.

And if you are involved in approving trucking contracts, be sure the terms are defined to your satisfaction.

Thank you for reading this.

Picture of John Taratuta

John Taratuta, Safety & Risk Engineer, 989-474-9599