CDL and Insurance Requirements for New Truck Drivers: A Comprehensive Overview

Published: July 17, 2023
Last updated: February 29, 2024

Aspiring truck drivers who are considering a career in the transportation industry need to understand the specific requirements and regulations involved.

Obtaining a Commercial Driver's License (CDL) and having proper insurance coverage are crucial steps for new truck drivers. 

Introduction to CDL and Insurance Requirements

Truck driving involves operating large vehicles that require specialized skills and qualifications. 

To ensure safety on the road and comply with regulations, truck drivers must obtain a Commercial Driver's License (CDL) and have appropriate insurance coverage. Understanding the requirements and regulations surrounding CDL and insurance is crucial for new truck drivers.

Obtaining a Commercial Driver's License (CDL)

To begin a career in truck driving, aspiring drivers must obtain a Commercial Driver's License (CDL). The process involves several steps and requirements to ensure that individuals are properly trained and qualified to operate commercial vehicles. Here's a detailed breakdown of obtaining a CDL:

Determine CDL Class and Endorsements:

CDLs are categorized into different classes based on the vehicle's weight and the type of cargo being transported.

  • Class A CDL: This class allows drivers to operate combination vehicles, such as tractor-trailers, with a Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) exceeding 26,000 pounds, including the weight of any towed vehicles.
  • Class B CDL: Drivers with a Class B CDL can operate single vehicles with a GVWR of 26,001 pounds or more, as well as certain types of buses.
  • Class C CDL: This class is for drivers operating vehicles designed to transport 16 or more passengers (including the driver) or vehicles used in the transportation of hazardous materials (Hazmat) that require placarding.

Depending on the desired trucking job, certain endorsements may be required, such as Hazmat, Tanker, or Double/Triple Trailers. These endorsements allow drivers to operate specialized vehicles or transport specific types of cargo.

Meet Eligibility Requirements:

  • Check the specific eligibility requirements set by your state's Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).
  • Generally, applicants must be at least 18 or 21 years old, hold a valid driver's license, and meet medical standards, including passing a medical examination and obtaining a Medical Examiner's Certificate.

Study and Pass CDL Written Tests:

  • Prepare for the CDL written tests by studying the appropriate state CDL manual and utilizing practice tests.
  • The written tests cover various topics, including general knowledge, air brakes (if applicable), and any endorsements sought.
  • Thoroughly review the materials and ensure a solid understanding of the rules, regulations, and best practices for commercial vehicle operation.

Obtain CDL Learner's Permit:

  • Provide the necessary identification documents and pay the required fees.
  • With the learner's permit, individuals can legally practice driving a commercial vehicle under the supervision of a licensed CDL holder.

CDL Skills Test:

Schedule and take the CDL skills test, which consists of three parts: a pre-trip inspection, basic vehicle control, and an on-road driving test.

  • The pre-trip inspection evaluates the driver's ability to conduct a thorough inspection of the vehicle, ensuring it is safe for operation.
  • The basic vehicle control portion assesses the driver's ability to perform maneuvers like backing up, turning, and parking.
  • The on-road driving test evaluates the driver's skills in real-world driving situations, assessing their ability to navigate traffic, follow traffic laws, and make safe decisions.

Upon passing the skills test, drivers will receive their official CDL.

By following these steps and meeting the requirements set by the state, individuals can obtain a Commercial Driver's License (CDL) and move forward in their truck driving career. 

It is essential to understand and comply with these requirements to ensure safety on the road and legal compliance while operating commercial vehicles.

Understanding Commercial Truck Insurance

Commercial truck insurance is specifically designed to cover trucks, their drivers, and the cargo they transport. 

It provides protection against risks associated with trucking operations, including accidents, property damage, bodily injury, and cargo loss. Understanding the basics of commercial truck insurance is essential for new truck drivers.

Liability Insurance:

Liability insurance is required by law and covers damages or injuries caused by the truck driver to others involved in an accident.

It typically includes bodily injury liability and property damage liability coverage.

Physical Damage Coverage:

Physical damage coverage protects the truck itself from damages resulting from collisions, theft, vandalism, or other covered perils.

It consists of comprehensive coverage and collision coverage.

Cargo Insurance:

Cargo insurance provides coverage for the goods being transported by the truck.

It protects against loss or damage to the cargo due to accidents, theft, fire, or other covered events.

Non-Trucking Liability Insurance:

Non-trucking liability insurance, also known as bobtail insurance, covers the driver when they are using the truck for non-business purposes.

It provides liability coverage during personal use or when driving the truck without a trailer.

Insurance Requirements for New Truck Drivers

Minimum Liability Insurance:

  • The specific insurance limits vary by state and depend on factors such as the type of cargo and the size of the truck.

Consider Additional Coverage:

  • Evaluate the specific needs of your trucking operation and consider additional coverage options beyond the minimum requirements.
  • Additional coverage may include comprehensive coverage, collision coverage, cargo insurance, or non-trucking liability insurance.

Shop for Insurance:

  • Compare the coverage options, deductibles, premiums, and customer service reputation of each provider to make an informed decision.

Understand Policy Exclusions and Conditions:

  • Carefully review the policy exclusions, conditions, and limitations of the insurance coverage.
  • Understand the circumstances in which the insurance may not provide coverage to avoid any surprises in the event of a claim.

Maintain Continuous Coverage:

  • It is crucial for new truck drivers to maintain continuous insurance coverage to comply with legal requirements and protect themselves from financial risks.
  • Lapses in insurance coverage can result in penalties, fines, and difficulties in obtaining new insurance in the future.


For new truck drivers, understanding the CDL and insurance requirements is essential to ensure compliance with regulations, protect themselves from potential risks, and operate within the legal framework. 

Obtaining a Commercial Driver's License (CDL) is the first step towards a career in trucking, while commercial truck insurance provides vital coverage for potential accidents, damages, and liability. 

By familiarizing themselves with the requirements and taking appropriate steps to obtain the necessary licenses and insurance, new truck drivers can embark on their careers with confidence and peace of mind.

Founder, Editor-in-Chief Carmelo Pickel is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Keep Driving, with almost 20 years of experience working in the industry. Before founding Keep Driving, Carmelo held leadership roles for over a decade on top automotive dealership corporations across North America, handling various leadership roles in Sales, Marketing, and Incentives.
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