A DOT or United States Department of Transportation Number is issued by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). It is a unique identifier assigned to companies operating commercial transportation services, either for cargo haulage or transporting of passengers. The primary role of FMCSA is to improve highway safety for all road users. The agency uses the DOT number for different purposes. They include compliance reviews, audits, collecting safety information, crash investigations, and compliance reviews for certain vehicles engaging in interstate commerce. Registering a USDOT number involves several requirements, and one of the basic requirements is insurance coverage.
Do I Need a DOT Number?
You will be required to file a USDOT number in most states in the United States if you own a commercial vehicle that:
- Weighs more than 10,000 pounds
- Plies the interstate routes
- Transports up to 8 passengers for payment
- Transports more than 15 passengers for compensation, even if you don’t carry them for payment
- Transports materials deemed hazardous by the Secretary of Transport
Operating Authorities Under FMSCA
A certain amount of insurance coverage is required to get an operating license and meet other obligations in the US commercial transport industry. As a commercial vehicle operator, the type of operation your company can run, types of cargo you are permitted to carry, and the insurance requirements will be dependent on which operating authority granted to you by FRSCA. The following are some of the operating authorities under FMSCA:
- Household Goods Motor Carrier: This is for vehicles that transport household goods for general household use from factories or stores.
- Motor Carrier of Property (Except Household Goods): This authority is granted to for-hire motor carriers transporting regulated goods, except household goods.
- Broker Household Goods: This applies to individuals, corporations, or partnerships that arrange transportation of household goods for compensation.
- Broker of Property: This is for individuals or companies that arrange transportation of property for compensation, except household items.
- United States-Based Enterprise Carrier of International Cargo
- United States-Based Enterprise Carrier of International Cargo (Except Household Goods)
Having ascertained the type of operating authority your company requires, you will need to obtain and submit proof of the appropriate insurance coverage to the FMSCA in order to get a USDOT number.
Types of Insurance Coverage Required for FSCSA Registration
Most of the operating authorities explained above have various types of amount of insurance coverage requirements. Some of them are:
- Public Liability Insurance: This is meant to cover liabilities from property damage, environmental restoration, and bodily injury. The required coverage amounts are $750,000 to $5 million for freight, $3,000 for non-hazardous freight transported in vehicles weighing 10,000 pounds or less, and $5,000,000 for passengers.
- Proof of cargo insurance: This is required for both household goods motor carriers and freight forwarders. The coverage amount is $5,000 per vehicle and $10,000 per occurrence.
- A Surety Bond: This is for both brokers of freight and freight forwarders. A surety bond of $75,000 and a trust fund agreement of $75,000.
- Service of Process Agents for all operating authorities
- Endorsement for Motor Carrier Policies of Insurance
After completing your registration, your operations will be monitored under the New Entrant Safety Assurance Program for 18 months. If after the 18 months, you are deemed to be compliant with the regulations, you will then be issued a permanent operating authority.