Helpful Information

What Is MCS 90?

Posted by Harlene Labrum | Feb 03, 2022

Highway driving poses many risks, but one of the most frightening scenarios is an accident with a large commercial truck (also known as a semi-truck or tractor-trailer).  To compound matters, a semi-truck's insurance policy might not cover injuries and damages a motorist sustains from an accident depending on the facts and circumstances. For this reason, the insurance rider known as MCS-90 could have profound consequences for highway drivers. Nonetheless, few people know about this obscure endorsement. If you were in an accident with a semi-truck traveling across state lines, it is critical to understand how the MCS 90 endorsement can affect you, and potentially help you receive the compensation you deserve under the law. Contact the experienced truck accident attorneys at Labrum Law at (615) 338-9500 to learn more about your legal rights and schedule your consultation today.

The MCS 90 Is Not Insurance

To begin to understand the MCS 90, it might be helpful to understand what it is not. The MCS 90 is not a type of insurance. Instead, it is an endorsement generally applied to a trucking carrier company's insurance that proves that it can financially cover expenses related to an accident. It is not an insurance policy, nor does it provide additional insurance coverage for other motorists involved in semi accidents.

The Federal Motor Carrier Act of 1980

As an endorsement attached to commercial auto insurance policies, the MCS 90 became required by law for all commercial semi-trucks thanks to the Federal Motor Carrier Act (FMCA) of 1980. The FMCA sought to regulate interstate highway commerce by outlining the rights and responsibilities of motor carrier companies. Most importantly, the act established the guarantee of the financial obligation that all interstate commercial carriers must meet, providing greater protections for motorists who share the road with large semi-trucks. 

What the MCS 90 Provides

The MCS 90 provides critical evidence that a company retains some funding source to pay for losses during accidents for which its driver is responsible. According to the United States Compliance Services website, a company can prove financial responsibility and procure an MCS 90 endorsement in one of three ways:


A company can choose to “self-insure,” which acts as a statement of good faith that a company guarantees its ability to pay for losses from an accident.

Surety Bond

A surety bond is a third-party guarantee that a company will cover losses. The guarantee comes because the bondholder will assume financial responsibility if a company cannot pay for the losses.

Standard Market Insurance

The MCS 90 often exists as an insurance endorsement or “rider” attached to standard commercial insurance. In this situation, the insurance company charges extra for the rider to take on a greater degree of liability if an accident occurs.

Who Needs an MCS 90?

For the most part, every trucking company must guarantee financial coverage via an MCS 90. The original intent was to provide added protection to motorists due to the influx of interstate commercial trucking that the nation was experiencing. Since commercial trucking is interstate by nature, most trucking companies must possess an MCS 90.

Coverage Amounts

The FCMA requires minimum coverages, mainly depending on the cargo type. The law requires the following types of coverage:

  • $5,000,000 for trucks, large and small, carrying certain types of hazardous chemicals or substances.
  • $1,000,000 for trucks carrying oil, certain types of waste, or other hazardous materials.
  • $750,000 for trucks hauling non-hazardous property.

Why the MCS 90 Matters

The MCS 90 does not matter for most motorists until an accident happens. Unfortunately, highway semi-truck accidents are not so uncommon. According to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics website, highway crashes involving large trucks (those weighing 10,000 pounds or more) exceeded 500,000 for 2019.

The MCS 90 is critical when it comes to an accident because a trucking company's insurance does not cover losses under every circumstance, even when their driver was at fault. The most often cited example is road rage. Common sense says that the driver at fault in an accident assumes the liability, and their insurance should pay for losses. However, according to the Insurance Information Institute, most insurance policies list road rage as an exemption. According to insurers, their coverage is for accidents, not acts of “risky behavior” or the wanton recklessness often associated with road rage.

Therefore, if a truck driver's emotional state played a role in the accident, you may be out of luck unless that driver's company had the MCS 90 endorsement. The MCS 90 overrides this exemption and forces the insurance company to pay anyway.

If you were in an accident with a cargo carrier, on the highway, or elsewhere, knowing whether that trucking company carried the MCS 90 endorsement could mean everything when it comes to compensation. An experienced truck accident attorney can help you understand the often- confusing rules surrounding MCS 90s. Contact the accident attorneys at Labrum Law for a legal consultation today.

Conditions For a Valid MCS 90

An accident must meet certain conditions before an MCS 90 can be considered valid. Some of the main criteria include:

  • The trucking company must be at fault for the collision
  • The company must operate across state lines
  • The injured party must have no other means of compensation
  • The injured party does not work for the trucking company in any capacity
  • The commercial trucking company's insurance policy does not cover damages from the accident (as with the road rage exemption, for example)
  • The company's MCS 90 is current and valid

If the incident meets all of the above conditions, then the MCS 90 is valid. While these standards may seem impossible, it is well worth investigating whether the commercial trucking company carries this endorsement.

Consult An Experienced Trucking Accident Attorney About An MCS 90

If you were in an accident with a commercial semi-truck, you should know about the MCS 90. Federal regulation requires a company to maintain the financial guarantee of coverage for accidents where its drivers were at fault. Learn how the MCS 90 might apply to your situation by contacting a truck accident attorney at Labrum Law at (615) 338-9500. Schedule your legal consultation today.

About the Author

Harlene Labrum

Harlene is focused and passionate about helping those injured in car wrecks.  She earned her J.D. at Nashville School of Law and her Bachelor's degree at State University of New York at Albany, awarded with the highest GPA and high honors.  Harlene began her career in law as a personal injury par...

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