Hotshot Trucking: What It Is and How to Get Started

A large white pickup truck towing a covered trailer on a flat highway in the sunset.

With hotshot trucking, or simply hotshots, becoming increasingly popular, it can be hard to know where to start. In this article, we’ll discuss hotshots, how to get started hauling your own loads, and compare the pros and cons.

What is Hotshot Trucking?

Hotshots is the process of hauling relatively small and time-sensitive loads delivered with medium-duty pickup trucks.

A common example of where hotshots are needed is in construction projects. Let’s say that a construction company needs to deliver a certain piece of equipment to a site to keep the project moving on time. This construction company might post a job on a load board (we’ll go over what that means later on) to get the equipment delivered to the construction site as soon as possible. Often these types of jobs pay well since the construction company needs the equipment quickly to remain productive and stay on schedule. 

Other examples might be hauling things like other motor vehicles, agricultural equipment, heavy machinery, or raw materials.

How to Get Started with Hotshot Trucking


The first thing you’ll need to get involved in hotshots is the right vehicle and some type of trailer. Hotshot trucks typically fall under Class 3, 4, and 5. Class 3 includes trucks like the Ford F-350, Class 4 contains trucks like the Chevrolet Silverado 4500HD, and Class 5 includes trucks like the Peterbilt 325. Trailers commonly used in Hotshot trucking include gooseneck and dovetail trailers, as well as deckover and lowboy trailers. Check out our Hotshots page for more information on the types of trucks and trailers commonly used.  

You’ll also want to be sure that your vehicle can handle whatever load you’re planning to haul. Make sure the load doesn’t exceed your vehicle’s weight limit so that you can operate the vehicle safely.

It’s also essential to ensure you can secure the load to the trailer properly and that the correct loading equipment is available during loading and unloading. Equipment like straps and chains is a must to ensure cargo is safely secured.


A Commercial Drivers License (CDL) is not always required to be a hotshot driver but is strongly recommended. You’ll need a CDL if your trailer has a Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) of more than 10,001 pounds and the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) of the truck and trailer is more than 26,000 pounds. This is why it is imperative to know how much your cargo weighs. If you do not have a CDL, you will have fewer load options to accept.

You can also get a Class A CDL through your state (also called a universal CDL). Check with your state to see their specific requirements and learn how to get a Class A CDL.

Hotshot Insurance

Hotshot trucking has specific requirements when it comes to insurance, and certain factors will affect the cost of your premium. Some of the things that will affect your insurance policy, including the cost, include:

  • Whether you plan to cross state lines while hauling a hotshots load
  • How long you have been operating a hotshots business
  • The minimum amount of primary liability coverage you’ll need (some freight brokers require different levels).
  • The hotshot trucking requirements of the states in which you’ll be operating.
  • The types of cargo you plan to haul, as specific cargo may require additional insurance.

If you are an agent and would like to start writing hotshots policies with us, get appointed today.


Once you have the right equipment, insurance, and paperwork, the last thing you’ll need is to find a load to haul. Fortunately, there are several online load boards where brokers can post available hotshot trucking loads.

Pros and Cons of Hotshot Trucking

The Pros

One of the most appealing things about hotshot trucking to many drivers is that it usually doesn’t require as large of an initial investment as standard trucking. The vehicle, equipment, and insurance costs needed for hotshot trucking are typically considerably less than they would be for hauling with a Class 8 semi-truck.

Another benefit that attracts many drivers to hotshot trucking is that many routes are typically shorter and more local than big-rig trucking. This means that hotshots drivers can have more time off the road. Local routes also mean more time at home with the family. The shorter distances also allow drivers to pick up hotshot loads as a side hustle to their full-time gig, providing a substantial source of secondary income.

Since hotshot runs are often expedited or time-definite with such short turnaround times, the pay is often higher. Plus, hotshot truckers often set their own rates and decide which loads they want to take and which ones they don’t, offering more flexibility than big-rig trucking.

The Cons

One of the biggest concerns for many drivers is the instability of finding work. Many jobs are one-off deliveries, which can be challenging to depend on for consistent work.

Another drawback to hotshot trucking can be the more limited loads you can haul. Due to freight limitations, a pickup truck and trailer can’t handle the same freight as a typical semi-truck. This can limit the loads available, leading to a less efficient operation. This is especially true when you are deadheading on a return trip from a delivery.  

Finally, the financial and time commitment to running your own hotshot trucking business can be a downside for some. In addition to your hours on the road, you are also responsible for shouldering the costs of taxes, vehicle maintenance, insurance, and other expenses that may come your way.

Wrapping Up

We hope we answered all of your hotshot trucking questions. Even though hotshot trucking may not be right for everyone, it is still crucial to keep our economy moving forward. 
If you’re interested in getting a quote for hotshots insurance with Cover Whale, tell your insurance agent that they can get appointed to start binding policies today. With Cover Whale, they can quote and bind a policy on the same day so that you can get your insurance as fast as a hotshot delivery!

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