New Jersey Raises Insurance Requirements For Commercial Trucks – But Who Does it Apply To?

March 18, 2024

Written by Bryan T. Schwartz and Roberto D. Uribe

The New Jersey Legislature passed a law raising the minimum insurance requirements for commercial trucks weighing over 26,001 lbs. to $1.5 million – doubling what is currently required under the FMCSA requirements. The law does not specify whether this requirement applies to intrastate New Jersey carriers only, to interstate motor carriers conducting business in the State, or those passing through the State. The increased insurance requirement goes into effect July 1, 2024.

The law signed by Gov. Murphy on January 16, 2024, states as follows:

Every owner or registered owner of a motor vehicle registered or principally garaged in this State shall maintain motor vehicle liability insurance coverage, under provisions approved by the Commissioner of Banking and Insurance, insuring against loss resulting from liability imposed by law for bodily injury, death and property damage sustained by any person arising out of the ownership, maintenance, operation or use of a motor vehicle wherein such coverage shall be at least….(4) for a commercial motor vehicle, an amount or limit of $1,500,000, exclusive of interest and costs, on account of injury to or death of, one or more persons in any one accident or for damage to property in any one accident…

While the law refers only to a “…registered owner of a motor vehicle registered or principally garaged in this State,” which would seem to indicate only those units registered in New Jersey, the bill also applies to “every owner,” which could include any power unit that travels into New Jersey or passes through New Jersey.

The current FMCSA standard requires motor carriers to maintain a minimum of $750,000 in liability insurance which has been the case since 1985. Although the FMCSA has considered increasing the minimum requirement, following a 2022 study, the agency could not justify the increase. For that reason, if the new law required interstate motor carriers doing business in New Jersey or passing through New Jersey, it would violate current federal law and open it up to challenges in the courts. In the event the law only applies to those intrastate motor carriers registered in New Jersey, it could cause them to move to surrounding states like New York or Pennsylvania where the insurance requirements follow current federal law.

Studies have not shown an increase in catastrophic tractor trailer related accidents in the Garden State, which is why doubling the insurance requirements simply appears to be arbitrary and possibly partially motivated by the plaintiffs’ bar.

Legal challenges are certain after July 1, 2024 and we will keep you updated. Please feel free to contact Bryan Schwartz ( or Roberto Uribe ( with any questions.