What is MCS-90?

Most people do not know what an MCS-90 is outside of trucking companies. But if you’re involved in a commercial truck accident, you might need the information contained on an MCS-90.

An MCS-90 is a publicly available record of a motor carrier’s insurance or surety endorsement. This form provides proof to the U.S. government that the trucking company has sufficient financial resources to pay for the damages resulting from a truck accident.

Here are the important things that you should understand about the MCS-90 form.

Regulation of Motor Carriers

The U.S. government regulates motor carriers that operate in interstate commerce. 

Under Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulations, motor carriers operating in interstate commerce include:

  • Trucks that travel between states
  • Trucks that travel within a state but cross into another state or country en route
  • Trucks that travel within a state carrying freight that started in another state or country

This definition encompasses almost all of the motor carriers operating in the U.S.

What Are the Financial Responsibilities of Trucking Companies?

Trucking companies must have truck insurance in case they cause an accident. But unlike car insurance requirements, which vary from state to state, truck insurance requirements are set by the U.S. government. 

This guarantees that every truck engaged in interstate commerce has a uniform amount of financial coverage, regardless of the location of the truck, trucking company, or accident.

The financial responsibility requirements vary depending on the size of the truck and the type of cargo. A truck weighing more than 10,000 pounds that carries non-hazardous cargo must have at least $750,000 in liability insurance or other surety in the event of an accident. 

If the truck carries oil, it must have at least $1,000,000 in insurance or other surety. Hazardous material carriers must have at least $5,000,000 in insurance or other financial coverage.

Trucking companies can use various forms of financial coverage to meet the financial responsibility requirements. The two primary sources are:

Liability Insurance

Liability insurance operates in the same manner as your auto insurance. If a truck driver’s negligence causes a trucking accident, the liability insurer pays for damages arising from bodily injuries and property damage. Interstate truck insurance also pays for environmental restoration to clean up any spilled cargo.

Surety Bonds

Surety bonds work almost the same as liability insurance with one big difference: when a surety company pays for damage under the surety agreement, the trucking company must repay it. 

If a trucking company uses surety bonds rather than insurance, it might advertise as “bonded” rather than “insured.”

From your point of view, nothing changes. For example, if you suffer $50,000 in medical bills and lost income after a trucking accident, you would submit a claim to the surety company just as you would submit a claim to an insurance company. 

However, the trucking company must repay the surety company for the settlement.

Proof of Insurance

In Missouri, you must carry proof of insurance in your vehicle at all times. If a police officer asks for proof of insurance, you must show your insurance card. After a car accident, you will provide information from your insurance card to the other drivers.

The MCS-90 includes an insurance endorsement that serves as proof of financial responsibility. In this respect, it serves the same purpose as your insurance card.

When a trucking company buys trucking insurance or surety bonds, the insurer or surety company completes an MCS-90 form. The MCS-90 lists the name of the trucking company, the name of the insurer or surety, the amount of the policy, and the policy number.

The insurer or surety files a copy of the MCS-90, along with a copy of the policy with the FMCSA. The public can access these documents. After an accident, these documents can help your lawyer to resolve your injury case.

How Do You Use the MCS-90?

The MCS-90 provides a wealth of information to your lawyer after a truck accident, including:

Policy Number and Insurer

After a truck accident, your lawyer will need to file an insurance claim for your injuries and property damage. The MCS-90 lists the insurer for the trucking company and its policy number.

Policy Limits

Interstate trucking insurance has policy limits, just like your car insurance. These policy limits apply to each accident. This means that everyone injured in the accident will need to share in the insurance proceeds. 

If the insurer issued a policy for $750,000 and five people suffered injuries in the accident, the insurer will pay claims until they exceed $750,000. After that point, the insurer has satisfied its legal obligations, and the trucking company becomes liable.

Missing or Expired MCS-90

If the trucking company has no MCS-90 or its MCS-90 has expired, this can tell your lawyer that the trucking company has financial or legal problems.

A trucking company might not have a current MCS-90 on file if the company lacks the resources to meet the financial responsibility requirements. A trucking company might also have no current MCS-90 on file if the trucking company has lax bookkeeping practices. 

In either case, you will probably need to file a lawsuit against the trucking company to recover compensation rather than dealing with an insurer or surety.

If you need to file a lawsuit against the trucking company, your lawyer might want to work quickly. A trucking company on the verge of bankruptcy might escape liability for your injuries. Filing quickly can save your place in line among the trucking company’s creditors.

Holding a Trucking Company Liable for Your Truck Accident Injuries

An MCS-90 is just one step in assembling a case against a trucking company after a truck accident. Just like an insurance card provides information about your car’s insurance policy, the MCS-90 provides information about the trucking company’s policy.

While the information on the MCS-90 has its use, the importance of the MCS-90 is that it can lead you to the trucking company’s insurance or surety policy. The policy will play a central role in recovering compensation for your injuries.