The Definitive Guide to MCS 90 Auto Endorsements

Unless you’re a commercial truck driver, you’ve probably never heard of MCS 90 auto endorsements. And even if you have, you might not know what an MCS endorsement on a commercial truck driver’s insurance means to you as a driver.

As personal injury attorneys, we’ve had to learn all the nitty-gritty details about MCS 90 auto endorsements and how they can impact your ability to receive damages. If you’ve been injured in an accident involving a commercial motor vehicle, keep reading! We’ll explain everything you need to know.

What is an MCS 90 endorsement for a motor carrier?

To legally operate a commercial vehicle that crosses over state lines, trucking companies must register with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). Part of the registration process requires proving the company has the financial means to cover ANY damage caused by one of their drivers, even if their standard insurance policy doesn’t cover the damage. They often provide evidence of financial responsibility by adding an MCS 90 endorsement to their insurance policy. The word “endorsement” is just insurance company lingo for an addition to a standard insurance policy. So, the MCS 90 is an insurance add-on that makes sure that if the commercial truck driver causes damages or injuries to another driver in an accident, a minimum amount of damages to any injured victim will be covered.

An MCS 90 is NOT a type of insurance. The endorsement says nothing about who will ultimately pay for the damages; it merely guarantees that damages will be paid. This means that while the insurance company will cover any bodily injury or property damage up-front, they are entitled to reimbursement from the trucking company for anything they pay.

MCS 90 endorsements only come into play under certain narrowly-defined circumstances:

  • The trucking company’s standard insurance policy doesn’t cover the underlying accident.
  • The driver employed by the insured motor carrier is at fault for the accident.
  • The injured party doesn’t work for the trucking company in any capacity.
  • The injured party can’t turn elsewhere for compensation.

The commercial truck driver doesn’t need to be 100% “at fault” for MCS 90 coverage to kick in. Even if you’re partially at fault for an accident, the MCS 90 will apply to the proportion of the damages the truck driver is liable for.

Who needs an MCS 90 endorsement?

Federal regulations require that any commercial motor vehicle (CMV) operated by an insured with interstate motor carrier authority and any private carrier transporting hazardous materials have an MCS 90 endorsement. Let’s go over the definitions of these terms:

Commercial Motor Vehicle

Any vehicle used to transport goods or passengers for individual or corporate profit can be considered a commercial motor vehicle. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), CMVs must also satisfy particular weight requirements. 

Motor Carrier Authority

Motor Carrier Authority (sometimes called Interstate Commerce Trucking Authority) is a type of operating authority issued by FMCSA. Any trucking company that operates as for-hire motor carriers or transports passengers or federally-regulated commodities across state lines must apply for Motor Carrier Authority to legally carry out their business.

Private Carrier

A private motor carrier only transports its own goods and does not transfer cargo for outside parties. Private motor carriers often operate as part of a business that creates, sells, or buys the transported products. 

Hazardous Materials

Hazardous materials are substances that have the potential to hurt human beings or the environment. 

Common examples of hazardous materials include:

  • Chemicals
  • Drugs
  • Radioactive materials 
  • Human or animal tissue, blood, or other bodily substances

So, to summarize, any commercial trucking company that crosses state lines or a private carrier that transports hazardous materials needs an MCS 90 endorsement. The vast majority of truck drivers and trucking companies cross state lines when delivering goods, so it is highly likely that a truck driver will have an MCS 90 Endorsement on their insurance.

Commercial trucking companies may choose to self-insure and not use an MCS 90 in some situations. However, to do this, they must prove to federal regulators that they have other ways to pay out damages if they’re found liable for an accident their standard insurance doesn’t cover.

MCS 90 endorsements and uninsured motorist coverage?

Uninsured motorists coverage is a vehicle insurance policy designed to help cover your medical bills and damages if you’re hit by a driver who doesn’t have insurance. Fortunately, the fact that you have your own uninsured motorist coverage does not relieve the MCS 90 insurer of its obligation to pay you for injuries that would be covered by the endorsement. This means that if you have a vehicle insurance policy covering uninsured motorists, it won’t impact the damages you could be paid out under a policy with an MCS 90 endorsement. 

For example, say you were involved in a motor vehicle accident with a commercial truck not covered by the motor carrier’s standard insurance policy. In that case, the MCS 90 would kick in, regardless of whether you carry uninsured motorists coverage on your personal insurance policy.

What are MCS 90 endorsement limits?

The minimum level of coverage offered by an MCS-90 might be lower than the amount of money you could receive through standard insurance coverage. However, the MCS 90 endorsement limit often corresponds to the underlying policy’s maximum.

The federal laws that regulate MCS 90 endorsements require different amounts of minimum coverage depending on what materials the truck is transporting. The financial responsibility requirements for various types of cargo are detailed below.

  • $750,000 when carrying non-hazardous substances
  • $5,000,000 when transporting some types of hazardous materials
  • $1,000,000 when moving oil, hazardous waste, and other kinds of dangerous substances
  • $5,000,000 when smaller trucks carry particular hazardous materials.

When do I need a car accident lawyer near me?

After you are hurt in a motor vehicle accident, the first thing you should do is to seek and receive any emergency medical attention that your injuries require. Contacting a car accident lawyer near you should be next on your to-do list.

Consulting with an experienced attorney immediately following the accident is vital in any motor vehicle crash. Insurance companies are for-profit companies with business models that rely on paying the lowest amount possible for each claim. They are notorious for taking advantage of accident victims who don’t have experienced personal injury attorneys helping them out.

A lawyer will handle negotiating with the insurance carrier after an accident and demonstrating that the other driver was at fault for the crash. If the insurance companies refuse to offer a reasonable settlement, an attorney can sue their insureds on your behalf. 

When it comes to accidents involving commercial trucks, calling an attorney right away is even more critical. Accidents with trucks often cause extensive damages and life-changing injuries. But trucking companies often have their own attorneys who will work to place the blame for the accident on you. You need a strong and knowledgeable advocate in your corner to ensure you get the compensation you deserve.

Additionally, the laws surrounding MCS 90 endorsements can be complicated. An experienced attorney can navigate MCS 90 rules with ease and help you take on (and take down!) the trucking company and their lawyers.

Have questions? We protect victims like you every day.

Call 888-ATTY-911


About Attorney911 
Legal Emergency Lawyers™ legal services

Attorney911 Legal Emergency Lawyers™ legal services is a Texas-based personal injury and criminal defense law firm with offices in Houston and Austin, though we are proud to serve Texans from all over the state and represent clients in federal court. We handle a wide variety of legal issues — from car accidents to worker’s compensation to DUI/DWI offenses. Our staff is bilingual, friendly, and genuinely passionate about helping our clients, whether it’s a million-dollar case or a thousand-dollar case. We also understand that cost can be a prohibitive factor in hiring a lawyer, and are willing to work with you on structuring payment in a way that is fair and feasible. We do accept credit cards for our hourly fees, and take some cases on contingency, which means you don’t pay us unless and until you get paid yourself. We know that you have a choice in your legal representation, and we believe that what makes us stand out from the competition is our real emotional investment in our clients. We see you as a person — not a paycheck. And we will fight hard for you, because we truly care.