Trucking authority – also known as operating authority or motor carrier authority – is permission from the government to haul freight. Before carriers can start their own trucking company, they must get their operating authority. Once they have their authority and have met the requirements, they can begin doing business under their Motor Carrier (MC) number. It takes about five to seven weeks to complete an MC authority, including federal and state.  

Insurance Requirements

Truckers will need to obtain insurance within the first two weeks after the MC number is filed to avoid any delays in their authority processing. If they fail to get insurance on file within the first 60 days, their authority application will be dismissed. The minimum liability limit required for most truckers hauling non-hazardous commodities is usually $750,000. For hazmat, it is usually $1,000,000, but sometimes a $5,000,000 limit is required. Some public autos are required to carry filings depending on the seating capacity. Limits range from $1,500,000 to $5,000,000. Agents should make sure the insured has contacted the DOT and Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and know what limits and filings they are required to have.  Common filing form numbers are BMC 91x, MCS90, and Form E; so if your insured is asking for these forms, they are asking for the insurance company to make a filing.

For intrastate truckers – only operating within a single state – they may be required to meet state financial responsibility laws and have a State Filing. Each state differs in the limit of insurance they require and if they require filings to be made. It is the trucker’s responsibility to know what limits they are required to carry and if they need for the insurance company to issue filings.

SAFER Resource

A useful tool when reviewing a trucking risk is the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s SAFER website ( SAFER (Safety and Fitness Electronic Records System) will provide you with the company’s size, commodity information, limit requirements safety records, and more. If you are unsure if your customer will need filings, you can search by name to see if they have their authority or have applied for their authority. Be sure to ask your customers if they have an MC number, a DOT number, or if they will need filings made.

Important Reminders

When making filings, the Insurance Company is stating it will cover all units owned or operated by the insured. For that reason, agents must schedule and insure every unit owned and/or operated by the Insured. Also, the government requires a certain number of days’ notice for cancellation; a policy cannot be cancelled until the cancellation notice requirement for the filing(s) has been satisfied.  Normally, this is 30 days plus mailing.

MJ Kelly is a full-service managing general agency and wholesaler.  Transportation and garage are our key areas of specialization.  Our team of expert underwriters know all of the right questions to ask to ensure your important clients have the coverage they need.