Difference between Hotshot and Expediter Insurance

hotshot truck

Because they have much in common, questions often arise about the difference between Hotshot Insurance and Expediting Insurance.

Both “Hotshots” and “Expediters” are “Trucking for Hire” operations of a time sensitive nature, and both tend to operate between 300 and up to unlimited miles. Many do not go home the same day they deliver the freight, and others are on the road for weeks at a time.

(Couriers tend to operate locally, make multiple small deliveries in one day and are home every night. Their insurance liability and cargo coverage is often designed differently than trucking for hire insurance.)


A “Hotshot” often operates with a 1 ton Dually Pick Up Truck with a 9,000 lb rear axle minimum.

The truck uses a gooseneck or fifth wheel hitch in the bed that attaches to various types of trailers depending on freight.

Many hotshots focus on cars and “toys” like motorcycles, boats, golf carts, RVS or trailers. These dually pick up trucks can use a 3 to 4 car wedge to haul multiple cars or choose enclosed trailers to better protect the cargo.  A lot of them deliver RVs from one state to another simply towing the unit behind them.  Some hotshots use flatbed trailers to haul machinery, farm equipment and other general cargo as needed.

A hot shot is required to obtain a USDOT number from FMCSA to haul freight for hire across state lines with a minimum auto liability requirement of $750,000. Market forces control the amount of motor truck cargo they purchase with a minimum of $100,000 and the most common limit $150,000.  (Many carry $250,000 for higher end cargo.)


An “Expediter” can operate with a cargo van, sprinter, step van, straight truck or tractor trailer.  Common freight for an Expediter began “back in the day” as auto parts, but now includes machinery, parts and all kinds of general freight.

Expediters hauling across state lines are required to obtain a USDOT number from FMCSA, but their liability requirements differ. FMCSA requires Cargo Vans and Sprinters to carry $300,000 auto liability, while larger units are required to carry $750,000.  Like hotshots, market forces also control the amount of motor truck cargo they purchase with limits as low as $25,000 and the most common amount of $100,000.  (Many carry $250,000 for higher end cargo.)

It’s important to know upfront that industry standards have pushed the generally accepted limits to $1,000,000 for both types of operations and all types of units. So while it’s certainly possible to obtain your USDOT number with the lower amounts required by FMCSA, it’s prudent to ask your agent what $1,000,000 auto liability will cost because you will very likely have a broker or shipper ask for that higher limit sometime in the future.