What Qualifies a Vehicle as a Commercial Motor Vehicle?

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commerical auto insuranceFederal Motor Carrier Safety Administration CSA scores for Commercial Motor Vehicles can greatly affect the cost and availability of commercial auto policies. Taking the time to adequately understand the regulations involved will immensely improve the cost of each policy. A frequently asked question is, “what qualifies a vehicle as a Commercial Motor Vehicle?” Unfortunately, this question typically arises after a client has been pulled over by the authorities and given a ticket for not having the proper credentials such as a CDL, hours of services log or Medical Card. In response, Swingle Collins & Associates informs the client that there are several different ways that a standard pickup truck can become a Commercial Motor Vehicle (CMV) depending on whether the vehicle is being operated in Intrastate or Interstate commerce.

Vehicles that are operated Intrastate, within the home state boundary, are considered a Commercial Motor Vehicle if the vehicle has a gross vehicle weight rating or gross combination weight rating of 26,001 pounds or greater. This weight total includes a trailer that may be attached.

Vehicles that operate Interstate, by crossing the state boundary, are considered to be a Commercial Motor Vehicle when the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR)  or gross combination weight rating (GCWR) exceeds 10,001 pounds or greater, including an attached trailer.

The main source of confusion arises when calculating the GVWR and GCWR. This weight is determined by the manufacturer of the vehicle and the trailer. It is not the vehicles actual weight or weight that the vehicle is carrying, but rather the capacity of the vehicle and the trailer. Many operators operating trucks and trailers that are not in compliance with these regulations simply are unaware of the vehicles GVRW.

Violating these regulations creates a negative CSA score, which then results in further scrutiny from the Department of Transportation and increases insurance premiums.

Familiarity with the appropriate Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulations and state Department of Transportation (DOT) regulations will help in understanding the rules and parameters that apply when operating different types of vehicles. Although compliance with FMCSA or DOT regulations are not necessarily an “insurance” issue, the CSA score or violation history, which are readily available to underwriters and insurance carriers, is applied when underwriting and pricing particular risks.

Swingle Collins & Associates will thoroughly review each of our clients CSA scores and develop a strategic plan to improve those scores, thus resulting in Best of Class insurance pricing for each of their commercial fleets.