MCS-90 Endorsements 101

Although it may sound like the newest crime procedural tv show, the MCS-90 form is actually an “Endorsement” to a commercial auto policy. If you’re a trucking company or other motor carrier operating in interstate commerce, this is super important to have! But what does this “Endorsement” actually do for you, why do you need it, and how do you get it? We’ll answer all your questions and provide everything you need to know about the MCS-90 Endorsement!

What is an MCS-90 Endorsement?

To understand what an MCS-90 form is and why it’s crucial, here’s a little background on the regulations. It all started with the Federal Motor Carrier Act of 1980. Which states that each motor carrier participating in interstate, for hire commerce is required to show proof that they have the financial responsibility equal to or greater than minimums set by each state. This was done to ensure the public’s safety against damage caused by motor carriers who may not have the ability to pay resulting claims. So this law required motor carriers to demonstrate the ability to pay claims up to a statutory minimum. 

As a result, MCS-90 guarantees that motor carriers have available funds to pay for losses which they’re legally liable. The endorsement states that it “covers all vehicles owned, operated, or maintained by the insured regardless of whether or not each motor vehicle is specifically described in the policy.” To be clear, MCS-90 is not an insurance policy; rather, it is attached to a motor carrier’s existing insurance policy. MCS-90 shows that the motor carrier has met the financial requirements of the federal regulations.

Do I Need an Endorsement?

If you’re wondering whether or not you need an endorsement, the answer is a resounding: YES! Federal regulations require MCS-90 Endorsements for all commercial motor vehicles operated by motor carrier authorities and any private carrier transporting hazardous materials. If your endorsement is expired or incorrect, the Department of Transportation can fine the truck driver or the trucking company.  

An MCS-90 Endorsement is only needed for motor carriers operating in interstate commerce, which means doing business across state lines. So if your company only operates in a single state, then MCS-90 is not required. If your company does operate across state lines, then the MCS-90 dollar-value minimums will depend on how much commercial auto insurance coverage the motor carrier has. 

According to the federal regulations governing MCS-90 Endorsements, the liability minimums vary depending on what the truck is carrying: 

  • $750,000 for a truck carrying non-hazardous property
  • $5,000,000 for a truck carrying certain hazardous substances
  • $1,000,000 for a truck carrying oil, hazardous waste, and other kinds of hazardous substances
  • $5,000,000 for small trucks carrying certain specific hazardous materials

How Do I Get an MCS-90 Endorsement?

As we mentioned before, an MCS-90 Endorsement is attached to an existing insurance policy showing proof of their financial responsibility. This can be accomplished in one of three ways: 

  1. Self-Insurance: A motor carrier can choose to self-insure, which means that they have the financial responsibility to cover any and all claims that arise from their company’s negligence and are legally liable to pay. 
  2. Surety Bond: A surety bond is a promise for one party (the one issuing the surety bond) to pay on behalf of another party (the one receiving the bond) if the latter party fails to pay.  
  3. Insurance Company: When a motor carrier procures their insurance, they can choose to add an MCS-90 Endorsement to their policy.

Need an MCS-90 Endorsement?

If you’re still unsure whether or not you need an MCS-90 Endorsement, we can help! Our team of experts is available to answer any additional questions and help you secure your MCS-90 Endorsement if you need it! Just contact us for your FREE quote!

Alex Rue