FMCSA Insurance Requirements

Do you know the minimum amount of liability insurance you are required to carry for the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration?

GAWDA members are motor carriers of property, and the financial responsibility regulations for them are found in parts 387.1-387.17.

The minimum levels of financial responsibility are listed in a table found in 387.9. This table can be difficult to understand, based on the number of calls I get asking me to explain exactly what the member needs in coverage amounts. For 99 percent of our membership, the amount is easy to figure based on these simple questions:

1. Do you transport any 2.3 Hazard Zone A poisons?

2. Do you transport any 2.1 or 2.2 materials in cargo tanks in excess of 3,500 water gallons?

If you answer yes to either of the questions, then you need at least $5 million in liability coverage. If you transport hazardous materials but answer no to both of the above questions, then you only need $1 million in liability coverage. This coverage could be obtained under two or more separate policy numbers and insurance companies. A typical example of this would be $1 million under the business auto policy and the remaining $4 million under an excess or umbrella liability policy with either the same or a different insurance company.

How to Prove You Have the Required Amount
Form MCS 90 is an endorsement issued to a carrier by an insurance company to show proof that the carrier has in effect the minimum levels of financial responsibility required by the FMCSA. The MCS 90 serves only as proof the carrier is in compliance with the FMCSA’s requirements that carriers maintain coverage for protection of the public for injury or property damage resulting from the operation of the vehicle.

When issued, the MCS 90 stays in effect as long as the insurance company and policy number stay the same. There is no expiration date on the MCS 90. Typically, the insurance company prints and includes a new MCS 90 in your insurance binder every year, but not always. Please make sure that you have a current copy on file. This is a very common oversight and it can be very costly in penalties. The form only needs to be on file at the principal place of business. It does not need to be at every location or carried on the vehicles.

Carriers meeting the public liability requirements with a surety bond must have an MCS 82 issued by a surety as evidence of compliance. If you are self-insured and meet the requirements under Sec. 387.309, a written decision, order or authorization from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration authorizing a motor carrier to self-insure will satisfy the proof of financial responsibility requirement. Most of our members will be using the MCS 90. Mexican motor carriers entering the U.S. have other requirements that must be met.

Anyone knowingly violating the financial responsibility regulations can have penalties up to $11,000 per violation, and each day can be made a separate violation.

Make sure that you have a current copy of your MCS 90 with the proper amount of coverage on file at your principal place of business, and you will never have to worry about any penalties in this area.

Gases and Welding Distributors Association
Meet the Author
GAWDA DOT & Security Consultant Michael Dodd is president of MLD Safety Associates in Poplar Bluff, Missouri. Members can reach him at 573-785-5111 and at