Hello all, So you want to get into the hot shot trucking business? Here's some helpful info I've picked up along the way. Now I am not an expert, we are all learners. So if I make a mistake, anyone can chime in. I want this thread to be a helpful tool full of real facts and truth.
1. Will I need a CDL?
Short answer: YES. Any vehicle combination over 26,001 pounds will require a class A CDL to operate. The GVWR (gross vehicle weight rating) is the combination of the truck's GVWR, and the trailer's GVWR. (For example: My truck has a GVWR of 13,000 pounds, my trailer has a GVWR of 24,000 pounds. Add those two, and you get 37,000 pounds, So I need a CDL.)
2. Do I need a DOT number?
More than likely, yes.
If your truck and trailer's GVWR exceed 10,001 pounds (and doing business out of state), a USDOT number must be displayed on the sides of it. ( 2" letters, must be visible from 50' away) Also, since you will be running a GVWR more than likely 26,001 plus, you'll need the DOT number.
3. Now that you have your DOT#, you'll need to register with a drug testing consortium.
You are a CDL driver, you must comply with all FMCSA standards. So, you'll need to go do (and pass) a pee test, AND, you will be randomly selected by your consortium to take a test.
4. Do I need an MC number?
If you ever plan on working out of state, yes you must have a motor carrier number.
5. What about IFTA?
From the Texas state website:
IFTA is an agreement that provides for the consolidated reporting of motor fuels (i.e., Gasoline, Diesel Fuel, Liquefied Gas, Compressed Natural Gas, Liquefied Natural Gas) taxes for qualifying commercial motor vehicles traveling in more than one state or province of Canada. IFTA is not a separate tax or fee.
6. Apportioned plates?
If you run out of state, you will need apportioned plates. Along with the MC# and IFTA tags.
7. Lets' talk insurance.
For the most part you will need:
A $1 million dollar general liability policy for your company.
Depending on the customer, you may be required to have worker's compensation insurance.
Also, they (your customer) Might require you to have an umbrella liability policy. (additional coverage in case you, God forbid, FUBAR something.)
Speaking of "company" you will more than likely have to file for a EIN or Employer Identification Number. (unless you are registered as a sole-proprietor company, then your SSN should suffice.) For your taxes.
8. Lets' talk taxes........ $$$$
You will be self-employed. SAVE AND OR MAKE COPIES OF ALL YOUR EXPENSE RECEIPTS!!!!
The tax man does not forgive, so you want to save and add up all of your fuel, food (while OTR) and maintenance expenses. That will help you out substantially.
*There are many more things I know of that are missing out from this intial post*. I know this and I will add in the info ASAP. (its almost midnight here) So good night drivers! stay safe and I will be back soon to add more!!!!!
So you want to hot-shot? (Will be updated/edited frequently)
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If you don't mind, I'll chime in a little.
MC, USDOT Number,
When you apply for your Motor Carrier Permit Number "MC#", you should get a USDOT Number with it at the same time. It's included in the $300.00 Motor Carrier Permit fee. In the past this has been an option, you didn't have to get it at the same time but it was smart to do so.
The website to get these numbers at is http://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/
IRP Truck Registration,
In the last year things have changed a little when it comes to getting IRP (International Registration Plan). What we're talking about is Commercial license plates for your truck that covers you to travel in other states. If your state wasn't set up to apply for these on line before, they should be now. You no longer get to pick out and select just the states you planned on running in. Now you must choose all states and Canada on your IRP application. Yes even if you don't plan on traveling through a particular state, or Canada you still need to include them on your IRP registration. Getting your IRTP Plate/Registartion is really a simple process now, every state I've talked to so far has been very helpful.
When you register your truck under IRP, you'll be registering for the full combined weight of your truck, trailer, and max load weight. Pick the weight wisely, selecting a higher weight option is acceptable, and it's very common. For instance, I just registered my 2015 Dodge 3500 dually under IRP at 40,000 lbs. Will I ever go down the road weighing that much? Absolutely not, but the lower weight option was under my combined gross weight.
When it comes to registering your trailer you should ask your DMV, Vehicle License Department for either a Token Plate, or Permanent License Plate (PTI Plate). You do not need to register the trailer at a weight. You see, your combined (truck, trailer, and load weight) is covered in the truck IRP registration fee. If you allow your state to choose a weight, or you yourself choose a weight to place on the trailer registration you will be throwing that money away.
Today with the way you can apply for IRP on line you'd be throwing your money away paying somebody else to do it for you. It's just to simple to do it yourself. While you're going through the process if you're not sure of something, just pick up the phone and call your states IRP office and ask for assistance. I've been doing my own commercial truck and trailer registration for approx 20 years now. I've called them to ask questions many times.
There may be some subtle differences from state to state on how the process works but this information should help a lot you regardless.
How do you come up with your max weight?
Look in the door jam of your truck, (on older trucks you may have to look in the glove box?). There should be a sticker there showing you the max weight that can be on your steer axle, and drive axle. There's also should be a sticker on your trailer showing the axle weight ratings. Combine (add together) all these axle weight ratings and thats the highest weight rating you can legally drive down the road at. And this is very important, you cannot exceed each individual axle weight rating. For instance if your drive axle weight rating is 9,750 lbs, You Cannot legally exceed that. Same goes for the steer axle and trailer axles. Never exceed those individual weight ratings.
Something you should also look at "Because the DOT will" is your tire weight ratings, calculate them up for each axle. The combined tire weight ratings on each axle must be equal to, or greater than your axle weight rating.
Hotshotter432 touched on the subject of Drug testing, I'll add to that.
Before you drive your truck at all in any commercial capacity you need to be signed up with, and tested by a drug testing company. Not only that, you also need those test results back in your office before driving the truck in a commercial capacity. If you fail to sign up, get tested, and wait for the results you can and will likely be fined. The fines regarding drug testing can be staggering. Just for not waiting for the results can cost you $10,000.00 .
Another thing, when it comes to choosing a drug testing consortium it's critical you sign up with one thats on the ball. Just becasue a company is well known doesn't necessarily mean they're on the ball, it can just mean they have a large advertising budget. When your state pulls your name randomly the company you're signed up with gets notified, and then they're suppose to notify you. What I've seen over the years is some drug testing companies tend to forget all about their clients after they get their initial fee out of them.
I've seen Independent Owner Operators fail to be notified by their drug testing consortium and then get shut down by State and Federal DOT. You only have so many hours to get tested once the state calls your name. Failure to comply, can, and will get you shut down where ever you happen to be at once the DOT is notified you missed a test. It can be extremely difficult, and expensive to get rolling again. It's not as simple as just taking a drug test at that point. The DOT calls you and informs you that cannot drive your truck anywhere because you missed your random test, and you have to see an actual doctor for tests, and examinations. It doesn't matter to the DOT if you're out of state at the time, you cannot drive the truck period until the DOT clears you to do so. All this doesn't happen quickly, it can takes weeks, even months before the DOT says you're good to go. These days, just getting a doctors appointment can take weeks.
Very good info! I was doing research to post on the plate/registration requirments but you hit the nail right on the head! The DOT testing is very important, just like carriers, there are many 3rd party companies who do this service, look and research different ones before you decide who to go with. As flatbed stated, last thing you want is to be sitting at a truck stop 500 miles from home and getting a phone call saying you can't move..flatbedcarrier Thanks this.
Hotshotter432 and Flatbedcarrier are operating trucks and trailer combination over 26,000lbs. There are a few hoops I don't have to jump thru operating under 26,000lbs. I don't need IRP, nor IFTA, CDL is not required, and no drug testing. Keep in mind every state may be different, with the stakes so high best to check with your state.
Let's dock this so that it will stay at the top. All of you experienced guys keep working together to add tips and this thread will be a great resource for those interested in Hot Shots. Great thread - thanks for your efforts.
Here's a few things that'll help you while shopping for Insurance,
Just about every Broker, and Shipper out there today wants to see that you have $100,000.00 Cargo, and $1,000,000,00 liability coverage before they'll let you move their freight. The FMCSA will let you run with less but the bottom line is very few Brokers and Shippers will let you haul their freight having less.
When it comes to Commercial insurance you really need to shop around. I hear guys saying all the time they have clean driving records, no prior commercial driving experience and they're being quoted as much as $12,000.00 a year. At the same time I have guys here with good driving records, no prior commercial driving experience getting quotes for $5500.00 to $7,000.00 a year.
Paying for your insurance, You can either pay all up front, NOT ADVISABLE. Or you can put 2 to 3 payments down and pay the balance in monthly installments. Why do I advise against paying it all up front? Because what I've seen over the years is a lot of insurance agents become less helpful after they have all your money. Beside that, if they turn out to be a rotten agent you'll be in for a long hard fight trying to get your money back from them.
Another thing that will drive your insurance quote through the roof is what you tell a Insurance agent. If you tell them you want to haul hazmat loads, Oilfield loads, and do expedited work you're telling them you're a high risk. If you just plan to do like a lot of us and haul a mixture of LTL freight and vehicles, you should not mention Hazmat, Oilfield, or Expedited work. And if you don't plan on hauling the Hazmat, Oilfield, or expedited and the Insurance Agent uses these words, you need to immediately correct the Agent and tell them you're not doing that type of work, Tell the Agent, you're an over the road LTL carrier that may have a vehicle or two on once in awhile.
Also when choosing a Insurance Agent, make sure they're putting you with an Onshore Insurance Provider, not a out of the country Insurance Provider. Why? Because if you ever have a claim you can play hell trying to get a Offshore Insurance Company to pay. I learned this the hard way years ago and I had to eat a loan on W900 Kenworth. Oh, you can sue the Insurance company but you'll have to go to their country and play by their rules to do it.
Also when you're choosing a Agent you need to ask them how quickly they'll send out insurance certs to Brokers and Shippers. It's critical that they send them out right away for you. Most Brokers, and Shippers will not wait for a Insurance Cert very long, they just give the load to someone else with a faster insurance company. Time is money. If the Agent tells you they send them out at the end of the day, week, or they say you can do them yourself on line. Myself, I'd find another Agent willing to handle it right away.
Another important piece of advice, Some insurance companies will try to put you on a limited operating radius (commonly a 500 miles radius). Do not let this happen, even if you plan to work local. Why? Because in the trucking business you need to be able to step further out when your local work dries up. There's times when it will dry up.
When it comes to hauling LTL Freight $100,000.00 may not always be enough to cover whats on your trailer. My policy is written to cover $100,000.00 per Bill of laden, for up to 5 Bill of ladens on any load that I put together and transport . It's not common that I have a load on valued over $100,000.00 but there are times where it happens. And in the rare even someone wants you to move a load valued at more, lets say $500,000.00. You need a Insurance agent that can increase your limit for that one single run. My agent has done this for me many times over the years when high value loads were offered to me.
If you're talking to a commercial insurance agent that has to get back to you, or put you on hold to get answers to most of your questions. Or every time you call you're talking to a different person. Find another Commercial Insurance agent. Preferable one you can be on a first name basis with..
If I can think of anything else regarding insurance I'll up date this.
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