What is MCS-90?

Truck Accident

Most people have never heard of “MCS-90.” However, there are three kinds of people who are more likely to be familiar with MCS-90s and what they entail. These include people who work in the commercial trucking business, insurance agents who cover commercial trucking companies, and victims of commercial trucking accidents.

If you have been injured in a commercial trucking accident, you may discover that MCS-90 insurance coverage is crucially important to your case. In some instances, this type of insurance coverage can determine whether you receive the financial recovery that you are due or not.

Below, we will define MCS-90 in plain language. We will also discuss what it could mean for your personal injury claim.

Defining MCS-90 Insurance Coverage

Since the early 1980s, federal laws have required motor carriers to prove their ability to cover damages to the public that result from interstate trucking accidents. This requirement is the result of regulations included in The Federal Motor Carrier Act (FMCA), which was passed by the U.S. Congress in 1980. 

The most common way for commercial trucking companies to show their ability to cover these damages is with an MCS-90 endorsement. Typically, the insurance providers for motor carrier companies are not obligated to cover the costs of damages to the public. Because of this, most companies offer MCS-90 “endorsements.”

An endorsement in this context is an add-on to the standard commercial trucking insurance coverage. MCS-90 is a type of interstate commercial trucking insurance coverage that is specifically designed to meet required public interest regulations found in the FMCA. 

This endorsement functions as a guarantee to members of the public that commercial motor carriers can cover any damages (up to a certain amount) resulting from a truck accident. So if you have been injured in a commercial truck accident involving interstate commerce, the MCS-90 endorsement may be incredibly important for you. 

A company’s MCS-90 guarantees you at least a minimum amount. This is true even if the trucking company’s standard coverage will not compensate you.

An Example of The Way an MCS-90 Works

The following example will help to illustrate how an MCS-90 endorsement works. 

Suppose you are driving down an interstate. A commercial truck has overturned on the roadway and you collide with it. You suffer extensive injuries that require months of treatment and care. From medical expenses to vehicle repairs to lost wages, the financial costs from such an accident can stack up quickly. 

Let’s suppose that the costs of your injury are around $100,000. You might expect that the trucking company’s insurance provider would cover your damages. However, perhaps the truck driver was experiencing road rage at the time of the accident. Incidents of road rage are often exempted from a commercial trucking company’s insurance policies. 

This means that the insurance for the company in the above example would not pay to cover the costs of your injuries. 

If this happened, you might decide to file a personal injury lawsuit against the trucker or the motor carrier company. However, this legal route may also leave you at an impasse. What if the trucker is a very low-paid worker and the trucking company is barely solvent? In cases like these, a personal injury lawsuit is unlikely to secure you the many thousands of dollars necessary to cover your injury.

When you have exhausted your other options for financial recovery, MCS-90 becomes incredibly important.

When Does MCS-90 Become Relevant?

In instances like the one described above, an MCS-90 is an alternative option for securing compensation. The public interest regulations found in the FMCA are meant to protect against exactly these types of cases.

MCS-90 endorsements mean that the insurance company is required to pay almost any claim for injury-related damages that may be filed by a member of the public. This is even true for damages that are not covered by the commercial trucking company’s standard policies.

You might be wondering why insurance providers would offer such an open-ended endorsement. One reason is that the endorsement is paid for by the trucking company as an add-on to their standard insurance coverage. This makes the insurance company money. The insurance provider can also seek reimbursement for the amount of the MCS-90 from the commercial trucking company. 

Of course, there is a risk to the insurance company that a given commercial trucking company may become insolvent. However, the MCS-90 endorsement provides an important public good for anyone who may be hurt from a commercial trucking accident. 

What’s the Catch?

If you have been injured in a commercial trucking accident, it might seem like the MCS-90 endorsement is too good to be true. There are a number of important conditions to the MCS-90 endorsement. This type of coverage is not applicable to all trucking accidents.

In order for the MCS-90 to be relevant, the following conditions must be met:

  • The commercial trucking company must operate in interstate commerce. Companies that operate only in one state are not required to have MCS-90 endorsements.
  • The commercial trucking company’s insurance policy must not cover the damages from the accident.
  • It is determined that the trucking company is at-fault for the collision.
  • The injury victim does not have other options for securing financial compensation.
  • The injury victim is not an independent contractor or worker for the commercial trucking company.

It is also important to note that an MCS-90 is not guaranteed to cover all of the costs associated with your injuries. Rather, they must meet certain coverage minimums in different circumstances. 

The federal regulations found in the FMCA require that trucking companies cover certain minimum amounts, which are determined by what the truck is hauling. 

These include:

  • $750,000 for trucks containing non-hazardous property
  • $5,000,000 for trucks containing certain hazardous chemicals and substances
  • $1,000,000 for trucks that are hauling certain types of waste, oils, or other hazardous materials
  • $5,000,000 for smaller trucks carrying hazardous substances

While the MCS-90 is not a panacea for all commercial trucking accidents, it can provide a great benefit to some personal injury victims. 

If you or someone you love has suffered from a commercial trucking accident, contact a qualified personal injury attorney as soon as possible. Discussing the circumstances of your case with a legal professional will help to ensure that you receive the financial compensation that you are owed. 

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