Most people will never deal with an MCS-90 insurance endorsement. Even if you sustain injuries in a truck accident, chances are that an MCS-90 will never become an issue.
But when it does come into play, MCS-90 can greatly affect your case. It could mean the trucking company’s insurer will not cover your injury claim. It could even allow the trucking company to go out of business or enter bankruptcy before you can obtain compensation.
Here are some of the things you should know about MCS-90 and what it could mean for your injury claim.
How Trucking Insurance Works
Trucking companies insure their fleet of vehicles in the same way you might insure your personal vehicle. Vehicles are identified on the trucking company’s insurance policy. This allows the insurance company to discern whether a vehicle is covered when it is involved in an accident.
The insurance policy must include liability coverage for bodily injury. This will cover medical expenses and lost income for other people injured by a covered truck. The insurance policy will also cover property damage for any vehicles damaged in the accident by a truck driver who is at fault.
Trucks that routinely cross state lines are regulated by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). This agency, which falls under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Department of Transportation, prescribes the rules that interstate trucking companies must follow.
Financial Responsibility Rules
Some of the most important rules for insurance involve commercial truck liability. In addition to having truck insurance, trucking companies must prove that they meet financial responsibility requirements in the event of an accident.
To meet financial responsibility requirements, the trucking company must have assets, insurance, and surety bonds sufficient to cover any losses caused by a trucking accident.
The size of the trucks and the cargo carried will determine the financial responsibility requirements for a given trucking company. The overall requirements can vary from $750,000 on the low end to $5 million on the high end.
When an insurance company issues a policy to a trucking company, it must also issue an MCS-90 endorsement. This endorsement is an add-on term to the insurance policy. It means:
- The trucking company has a liability policy.
- The trucking company has represented to the insurer that it meets the federally mandated financial responsibility requirements.
The MCS-90 is a public filing. If you are involved in a truck accident, your injury lawyer should be able to find the MCS-90 for the trucking company that owns the truck.
Liability After a Truck Accident
A trucking business will be liable for a truck accident if negligence by the trucking company or truck driver caused the accident. Some things that might serve to prove liability include:
- If the truck was improperly maintained
- If the truck driver operated the vehicle in an unsafe manner
- If the truck was inadequate or inappropriate for the cargo it hauled
If the trucking company was responsible for loading the trailer, it could also be liable for improper loading procedures.
Filing a Claim for Damages
Compensation for injuries and property losses after a truck accident will typically be handled in the same way as a car accident. Your injury lawyer will use insurance information provided by the truck driver at the scene of the accident to contact the trucking company’s insurer.
If the information was not provided at the accident scene, the lawyer can obtain the information from the MCS-90 on file with the FMCSA.
The lawyer will file a claim with the trucking company’s insurer with documentation of your damages including:
- Medical bills for treatment, therapy, and medications
- Pay records documenting lost wages (if you were unable to work)
- Repair estimates for your damaged vehicle
The trucking company’s insurer will use these documents — along with police reports, witness statements, and photos of the accident — to decide your claim.
Importance of an MCS-90
The MCS-90 lists the insurer, policy number, and policy limits for the trucking company. Your lawyer can use this public filing to quickly identify the proper places to file your claim.
More significantly, the MCS-90 is used by the insurance company to pay your claim.
Two possible situations could exist after a truck accident:
The Accident is Covered
If your damages are covered by the truck company’s insurance policy, the insurer can pay the claim. Specifically, if the truck and driver involved in the accident were covered by the policy, your claim will fall within the scope of the policy. This obligates the insurance company to pay.
The Accident is Not Covered
Occasionally, the accident might not be covered by the trucking company’s liability insurance. The truck or driver might not have been listed on the policy or the truck might have been hauling the cargo for which it was not insured.
Regardless of the reason the insurer gives for not covering the accident, if the trucking company filed an MCS-90, the insurance company will usually pay your claim.
In essence, the MCS-90 protects you. The MCS-90 provides assurances to the insurer that the company has adequate financial assets to repay them for the claim. Thus, the MCS-90 speeds up claim processing because the insurer knows it can pay your claim and then sort out its contractual obligations with the trucking company afterward.
What if There Is No MCS-90 on File?
If a trucking company has not filed an MCS-90, you will face a much more complex situation. The insurer can refuse to pay claims that are not covered by its policy. This refusal can substantially delay the payment of claims.
If a trucking company has not filed an MCS-90, it might mean it does not have sufficient money to cover your damages if the insurer denies your claim. Specifically, if an insurer denies your claim, you may need to authorize your lawyer to file a lawsuit against the trucking company. But a trucking company without an MCS-90 might be in poor financial straits and might declare bankruptcy or go out of business before it can pay your damages.
Resolving a truck accident can be complicated by matters outside of your control. A claim against a trucking company that follows all the rules might proceed without any obstacles. But a claim against a trucking company that has inadequate insurance or assets to cover your claim could turn into a nightmare. Searching the FMCSA for a current MCS-90 will give you an idea of which path your case might follow.