MCS-90: Endorsement, Form, Filing & More

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So you’re ready to start a trucking business. The business model looks foolproof, the business permit is ready, and you have the trucks and trailers waiting to zoom on the highway. Now, all that's left to do is get a trucking authority from the FMCSA. 

And so, you go to the nearest FMCSA office; confident that you’ll be granted the trucking authority to start your business legally as you already have the BIPD insurance FMCSA (bodily injury and property damage liability) generally requires. However, upon telling the authorities what goods you’re about to truck, they instruct you to get an MCS 90 endorsement. 

If questions are running in your head right now, then take time to read this short guide. Let’s discuss what MCS 90 endorsement is, the MCS 90 requirements, the minimum MCS 90 endorsement limits, and more!

MCS 90 Definition 

The formal MCS-90 endorsement definition goes like this - “an endorsement that must be attached to the auto liability policy of certain regulated motor carriers to ensure that federally mandated coverage (e.g., required liability limits and environmental restitution coverage) is in place” - We know, it’s very confusing. 

But in plain English, FMCSA’s MCS 90 is an endorsement to your motor carrier policy, which ensures your trucking company has enough coverage when it’s held liable for accidents that affect the public. (E.g. road gas or oil spill, or multiple vehicle collision)

In more plain English, MCS 90 from FMCSA is an attachment modifying and ensuring your basic motor carrier policy can cover collateral damages your business might inflict. 

Here’s an example for you to further understand. Suppose your tractor-trailer   is transporting fertilizer from Los Angeles to San Diego, then it hits another truck, swerved on the road, toppled over, and spilled its contents. Of course, since your truck is covered by auto liability insurance, you can compensate the driver of the other truck.

However, there’s still the spilled fertilizer you have to worry about. Now, someone sues you for negligence and environmental damage. This other person wins the case and the court demands you compensate the affected households and pay for the clean-up of the spilled fertilizer. Of course, your auto liability policy won’t cover this. But still, if you have MCS 90 endorsement, your insurance company can shoulder the cost without increasing your rates. If the contrary is true, then you’ll have to pay using your own money. 

Also read: Bobtail Insurance: Cost & Cheap Quotes From Only $8

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Is MCS 90 an Insurance Policy?

We must be very clear about this. It is not true that MCS 90 is insurance nor does it extend the limits of your insurance policy. MCS 90 form is just an endorsement - a modification to your motor carrier policy so that you can be covered for what’s excluded. 

Who Needs MCS 90 Coverage?

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Association doesn’t leave questions on who needs to get MCS 90 coverage to apply for trucking authority. All motor truck carriers need to get this to prove they’re capable of shouldering any financial obligations when held liable for property damage or personal injuries by the public.

An exception applies to self-insured motor carriers who can prove they can shoulder financial obligations without the help of an insurance company

MCS 90 Requirements: When Does MCS 90 Kick In?

mcs90 kicks in when:

  • Your insurance policy doesn’t cover the incident because such an incident is excluded from your existing motor carrier policy

  • The claim against your insurance policy comes from someone - a collateral victim -  of the unfortunate incident your trucking business caused

  • You have no other means to cover that someone’s claim but only through the motor carrier policy which has the MCS 90 Form

  • There’s a court decision expressly stating that you have to pay using your insurance policy to cover the liability claim

  • The accident occurred within the United States during interstate commerce

The minimum MCS 90 endorsement limits are mandated by the Motor Carrier Act of 1980. The Act expressly states that those carrying hazmat substances should at least have liability policies  $750,000 - $5 million coverage endorsed through MCS 90. 

Also read: Freight Broker Insurance: Cost & Quotes from $5

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Where to Get the MCS 90 Form 2020 Version?

You can get the MCS 90 form for trucking on this page: Form MCS-90 - Endorsement for Motor Carrier Policies of Insurance for Public Liability under Sections 29 and 30 of the Motor Carrier Act of 1980 . Here’s what the form looks like:

First Page

Second Page

Third Page

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MCS 90 Filing: Where to do It?

Just like other motor carriers, you have to do your MCS 90 filing at the FCMSA’s registration page . The picture below shows the sections of the form you have to take notice of.

  • Issued to - Put your business name in this section. Note that what you’ll write here must be the same as the business name stated as the insured in your motor carrier policy

  • Motor carrier state or province (next to ”issued to” section) - Obviously, the state where your business is primarily located as stated on your business permit

  • Date (on this, day of) - The month, year, and day which you filed the MCS 90 endorsement

  • Amending policy number - Your motor carrier insurance policy number. This is a unique number code assigned by your carrier to your insurance policy. Here’s an example: TH2529494. The policy number is on your insurance papers, proof of insurance, and  your online insurance account (only applicable if your carrier has a website like Next, CoverWallet, and State Farm )

  • Name of Insurance Company - Obviously, your insurance carrier - present insurance carrier

  • Countersigned by - This section should be signed by your insurance agent or any other authorized representative of the carrier you’re working with

  • This insurance is primary and the company shall not be liable for amounts in excess of $ (section in italics in the bottom portion of MCS 90’s 2nd page) - this blank section is where you’ll specify how much coverage to get from your insurance through MCS 90 endorsement. Remember that such coverage amount should not be lesser than what’s mandated by the Motor Carrier Act of 1980

Will Getting an MCS 90 Endorsement Increase Your Premiums?

Getting MCS 90 won’t further increase your motor carrier insurance rates. In fact, the reason why insurance for motor carriers is already expensive is that insurance companies might have already included the cost of MCS 90 endorsement in your existing quote. 

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