Do you need a trucking authority? One of the requirements is an MCS90 endorsement. In this guide, you’ll learn about MCS 90 definition, how to get it, and more.
To understand MCS90, we must first take a look at how it came to be and why it was enforced in the first place.
The United States once heavily regulated trucking businesses in 1887 through the Interstate Commerce Act, which controlled the cost of transporting products and aimed to ensure fair rates.
Following the years after President Grover Cleveland signed it, the Interstate Commerce Act of 1887 underwent a series of amendments, so that it could keep up with the emerging trends in the trucking, railroad, and airline industries.
The Motor Carrier Act, which President Jimmy Carter signed into law in 1980, is the 9th of such amendments that preceded the abolition of the Interstate Commerce Act.
Provisions of the Motor Carrier Act of 1980 targeted motor carriers. Aside from ensuring fair competition and making it easier to do business, it has another prominent feature. It required interstate and for-hire motor carriers to carry the FMCSA minimum insurance to take care of damage and casualties arising from the accidents caused by their vehicles.
The amount of liability coverage required is hefty. And the commercial auto insurance of most motor carriers can’t meet this. To solve this problem, the motor carriers do an MCS 90 filing to comply with the Motor Carrier Act of 1980 minimum insurance requirements.
The MCS90 is one of the requirements for getting a trucking authority from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.
An MCS 90 endorsement ensures that for-hire and interstate motor carriers can provide adequate indemnification in case their motor vehicles cause an accident that results in bodily injuries, property damage, or environmental damage.
This section quickly discusses the common terms used in the language of MCS 90 form trucking:
MCS 90 FMCSA provides coverage for public liability. Public liability pertains to your financial and legal responsibility over the bodily injuries, property damage, death, and environmental damage that resulted from an accident your vehicle caused.
Resulting from negligence or outside factors, an accident is an occurrence that leads to environmental damage, bodily injuries, or property damage.
The wording of MCS90 defines a motor vehicle as a land vehicle, particularly a truck, tractor, trailer, or semi-trailer with its own mechanical power or drawn through one and is used for transporting property.
Pertains to the physical harm inflicted on the body such as cuts, wounds, blunt force trauma, fractures, sickness, or disease. On an additional note, the MCS90 treats the infliction of bodily injuries as non-intentional.
Property damage pertains to harm inflicted on someone’s belongings such as land, house, car, personal garments, and any other tangible objects.
Pertains to the recovery or restitution for the damage, loss, or destruction of natural resources that resulted from the discharge and dispersal of the properties carried by the motor vehicle. It also pertains to the funds provided in order to cover the resulting effects of environmental loss, damage, or destruction.
The MCS 90 insurance endorsement is a requirement for all ventures that need a trucking authority from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. But to give you a specific idea, these are the common businesses that must have it:
LTL or partial truckload businesses
Full truckload businesses
Flatbed trucking businesses
Reefer trucking businesses
Expedited trucking businesses
White glove trucking businesses
Cargo van trucking businesses
Box truck delivery businesses
Different versions of MCS 90 endorsement definition, even though having separate interpretations, agree on one thing-MCS90 isn’t an insurance policy.
This is merely a document attached to the existing coverage of a motor carrier and provides a guarantee that adequate protection is in place if something bad happens during a trucking operation.
Upon getting it, the MCS 90 form will be endorsed to the commercial auto insurance of the insured. Once MCS 90 is endorsed, it will then grant additional coverage if specific conditions are met.
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MCS90 coverage differs based on the business profile of the motor carrier it covers. The bullet below shows how much you can get:
MCS 90 provides a minimum $750,000 liability coverage for motor carriers that transport non-hazardous properties in interstate or foreign commerce
For-hire and private motor carriers that carry hazardous substances and use cargo tanks, portable tanks, and hopper-type vehicles weighing 10,000 pounds or more can get a minimum $5 million coverage from MCS 90
For-hire and private motor carriers that ship oil, hazardous materials, and hazardous substances in interstate and foreign commerce get a minimum $1 million liability coverage from MCS 90
Motor carriers in the public transportation sector whose vehicles have a 16-person seating capacity get a minimum $5 million coverage from MCS 90
Motor carriers in the public transportation sector using vehicles with a 14-person capacity can get a minimum $1 million coverage from MCS 90
To understand how MCS 90 works, let’s take a look at a series of paragraphs written in the “Definitions” section of the MC 90 form.
“The insurance policy to which this endorsement is attached provides automobile liability insurance and is amended to assure compliance by the insured, within the limits stated herein, as a motor carrier of property, with Sections 29 and 30 of the Motor Carrier Act of 1980 and the rules and regulations of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA)”
The first paragraph in the "Definitions" section tells us that MCS 90 grants an additional layer of coverage and ensures that the commercial auto insurance to which it is endorsed complies with the minimum MCS 90 requirements imposed by the FMCSA and the Motor Carrier Act of 1980.
“In consideration of the premium stated in the policy to which this endorsement is attached, the insurer (the company) agrees to pay, within the limits of liability described herein, any final judgment recovered against the insured for public liability resulting from negligence in the operation, maintenance or use of motor vehicles subject to the financial responsibility requirements of Sections 29 and 30 of the Motor Carrier Act of 1980 regardless of whether or not each motor vehicle is specifically described in the policy and whether or not such negligence occurs on any route or in any territory authorized to be served by the insured or elsewhere”
The first clause of MCS90’s second paragraph gives an idea about the scope of the coverage. As stated, the insurance company, through the MCS90 endorsement, can cover costs when there’s a judgment that requires you to compensate third party bodily injuries, property damage, or environmental restoration. Also, MCS90 provides protection when liability results from negligence which occurred in any route or territory when you’re trucking.
“Such insurance as is afforded, for public liability, does not apply to injury to or death of the insured’s employees while engaged in the course of their employment, or property transported by the insured, designated as cargo.”
The third clause states that MCS90 endorsement doesn’t extend its protection to the injury or death of your commercial vehicle’s driver and passengers. Also, you can’t use it to cover losses if your business property got damaged or lost during the trip.
“However, all terms, conditions, and limitations in the policy to which the endorsement is attached shall remain in full force and effect as binding between the insured and the company”
This third clause states that the terms and conditions of the insurance policy also apply to the MCS90 endorsement. And that any violations of the MCS90’s public liability coverage between both parties can be a ground for gaining compensation or filing a lawsuit.
“The insured agrees to reimburse the company for any payment made by the company on account of any accident, claim, or suit involving a breach of the terms of the policy, and for any payment that the company would not have been obligated to make under the provisions of the policy except for the agreement contained in this endorsement.”
The fourth clause of the MCS90’s second paragraph states that the insurance company can demand reimbursement from you if it provided indemnification when it shouldn’t have otherwise. Here are some situations where this can happen:
The MCS90 provided coverage for an accident caused by a commercial vehicle you didn’t name on its terms
“It is further understood and agreed that, upon failure of the company to pay any final judgment recovered against the insured as provided herein, the judgment creditor may maintain an action in any court of competent jurisdiction against the company to compel such payment.”
The third paragraph paves the way for legal recourse in case you can’t get covered without justifiable reason. If there’s MCS 90 and the insurance company denies coverage even though the peril is 100% covered, you have all the right to contest in a court of law and demand the insurance company to do its job.
“The limits of the company’s liability for the amounts prescribed in this endorsement apply separately to each accident and any payment under the policy because of any one accident shall not operate to reduce the liability of the company for the payment of final judgments resulting from any other accident.”
The fourth paragraph of the "Definitions" section tells us that the public liability coverage of MCS90 applies on a per accident basis.
You must remember that the coverage of MCS 90 doesn’t override the coverage of your commercial auto insurance. In this section, we’ll discuss the conditions that trigger MCS 90.
The first condition is that your commercial vehicle must have caused an accident while engaged in interstate, intrastate, or foreign commerce while carrying a specific property specified in the provisions of the Motor Carrier Act of 1980.
Moreover, the court must have released a final judgment of negligence regarding the accident to which you’re liable. Also, the lawsuit must have been filed by a third party who is a victim. This is the second condition.
The third condition is that your commercial auto insurance must fail to cover the judgments, and you have no other means of taking care of the costs.
If all of these conditions are met, then you can ask the insurance company to grant coverage through MCS 90.
Again, remember that you can dispute in a court of law if the insurance company refuses to help you out.
First off, know that you don’t do the MC 90 filing at FMCSA’s office or website. Instead, the documents you need to submit to the agency are the BMC-91 or BMC-91X, which proves the endorsement has been introduced to your commercial auto insurance.
So who will help you file the MCS90 endorsement? The one who will do the work will be the insurance company. All you have to do is provide a filled-up copy of the MCS 90 form 2020-2024.
In this section, we’ll help you avoid putting the wrong information on your MCS 90 FMCSA form. Follow the steps outlined below.
The first thing to do is to download a copy of the MCS90 form at FMCA’s website and then upload it to a PDF editor.
The upper top right corner of the MCS90 form comes with a blank space where you need to input your motor carrier USDOT number and the date FMCSA issued it.
Getting your USDOT number is easy. All you have to do is visit FMCSA’s USDOT registration page then visit these:
Unified registration system (If it's your first time getting a USDOT number)
When you have your USDOT number ready, fill up the top right corner of the MCS90 endorsement with the required information and proceed to the other blank spaces.
After inputting the USDOT number and the date it was issued, proceed to Issued To blank space. You will input your trucking company’s name here and its address. But if you’re a sole proprietor, then input your own name:
You also need to provide details of when you filled up your MCS90 endorsement. You do this at the spot just underneath the Issued To blank space.
The next information you have to provide is the policy number and the effective date of your commercial auto insurance. If you don’t know, ask your carrier to send a copy of your commercial auto’s certificate of insurance.
Finally, you need to state the underwriter of your commercial auto insurance. This is basically the insurance company where you bought the coverage. By the way, if your commercial auto insurance is from a broker, then call a representative and ask who the underwriter is.
If you take a look at the MCS90, you’ll notice that five blank spaces are still empty. Don’t worry. The insurance company will fill those up when you send your MCS90 form.
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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.
Progressive is a good example of an insurance company that helps you with MCS 90 filing. This isn’t surprising as it hails itself as one of the most popular commercial insurers of truckers in the United States.
Progressive helps all of its customers with their MCS 90 and other federal filings. The process is fully automated. And so, your MCS90 endorsement will be attached to your commercial auto insurance within two days.
This insurance company doesn’t state whether or not it charges customers for its MCS 90 filing services.
Getting MCS 90 isn’t the only method of complying with the requirements of the Motor Carrier Act of 1980. There are other ways too.
If you don’t want to get an MCS 90 endorsement, then the other options are MCS-82 filing and self-insurance.
MCS-82 filing is what’s commonly known as motor carrier public liability surety bond. This agreement ensures that the principal has the minimum insurance requirements imposed by the FMCSA.
As for self-insurance, this is the act of setting aside specific amounts of money for the purposes of paying the responsibilities to the public in case your commercial vehicle causes an accident.
Understand that motor carriers who plan to self-insure must first secure the approval of FMCSA through BMC-40 filing.
Lonnie Bell Insuranker
Policy Type: Business Insurance
Company name: Employers Insurance
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