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Learn about the differences between bobtail and deadhead coverage. In trucking speak, Bobtail refers to the operation of a tractor without an attached trailer – where Deadhead is the operation of the tractor with an attached empty trailer.

Bobtail And Deadhead Coverage

Truckers are a special type of profession when commercial insurance coverage is concerned. There are different situations that occur on a daily basis when truckers are completing their routes.
Many trucking professionals also work independently, causing a complication with coverage. Those that work for large corporations all the time usually have better coverage.

Bobtail and deadhead coverage falls outside of some policies, and should be asked for by owner-operators specifically to ensure the safety of truckers.


A delivery route may take a trucker out of state, only to leave the trailer behind. The trucker must then travel hundreds of miles back to their home station with no trailer attached and no merchandise. This situation is called bobtailing.
The trucker and his or her vehicle are covered during this time by bobtail coverage. Bobtail and deadhead coverage – large companies usually include this coverage in their commercial fleet insurance policy because they like to secure their employees. Independent truckers, however, may only be covered while completing a transfer of goods. The coverage may end as soon as the trailer of merchandise is delivered.

Deadhead Activity

Deadheading is similar to bobtailing, as the goods have been delivered. A deadhead situation, however, means that the trailer is still with the trucker. The trailer is empty of all goods at this point. Again, a large company prefers for this type of transit to be covered. In most cases with a popular company, the trailer belongs to the company. It is in their best interest to have deadhead coverage. The trucker may deadhead for only a short time while moving between customers, or may have a long trip back to the main business site.
Independent owner operators that own their trailers and may need to consider a specific deadhead coverage extension.


Bobtail and deadhead coverage – many truckers work both for a company and independently. This allows them to make extra money on the side. This, however, falls into a self-employment category. Contract work severely limits coverage in many cases. A trucker that works for a company part time is covered when on the clock for that company only.
Independent trucking insurance is provided by the company that hires the trucker only for the duration of the delivery. This leaves a trucker uncovered during independent work when they are bobtailing or deadheading. A commercial truckers policy can provide coverage at all times, however, they are quite pricy. This causes a dual coverage situation if a trucker is covered at times from a company.

A commercial auto policy is usually considered by solely independent truckers, since that is their sole source of employment.

Bobtailing And Deadheading Coverage

Coverage during a delivery is comprehensive and should take care of the merchandise, vehicle damage, and injury. It is important to ask the company, however, what they provide. Independent truckers may not be covered for anything by their client. Liability for the merchandise may be the only thing provided. Large corporations are usually in the habit of providing complete coverage. This means that a drive working for them can visit the doctor, take time off to recover, and the vehicle can be repaired.


The complication with bobtail and deadhead coverage becomes an issue of who is liable when an accident happens. The owner of the truck is usually the one that is expected to have coverage in most cases. Independent truckers are especially vulnerable when they are on the road without a load. Responsibility then concerns only the vehicle, the driver, and other drivers on the road./p>
A company may not want to extend their coverage to these extra miles, especially if it was a one-time hire. A commercial trucker’s policy must be executed to cover bobtailing and deadheading during these times. Otherwise, many drivers could be negatively affected.

Bobtail And Deadhead Coverage - The Bottom Line

We hope this article on bobtail and deadhead coverage has been informative. Bobtailing and deadheading can be tricky when it comes to coverage. Large companies usually take responsibility at all times since they own the equipment. The complications happen when a driver works independently as an owner-operator. As with any self-employed position, insurance policies can be very expensive. There is a necessity, however, to be covered while bobtailing and deadheading. These moments can add up to many hours on the road, leaving truckers and other motorists at risk. Trucks are extremely large, and damage can be extensive in an accident. Bobtail and deadhead coverage are a necessity, even if handled independently.

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