Does my car insurance cover me towing a trailer?
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UPDATED: Oct 26, 2021
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- If you are towing a trailer behind your vehicle, coverage is extended to the trailer based on the policy through which the lead car is insured
- For the trailer to be eligible for coverage, it must be a trailer that you own
- Your auto insurance policy may have specific exclusions from coverage for certain types or sizes of trailers
- The coverage extended to the trailer is liability coverage, which means you are protected from damages that the tractor causes to another person or vehicle in an accident
- Coverage for a trailer does not include damage to the trailer itself from an accident
There are plenty of risks associated with towing a trailer behind your car. Even if you are only traveling a short distance, an accident involving a trailer can cause devastating damages.
While the coverage for your regular car may extend to the trailer being towed, you shouldn’t just assume that you’re fully covered.
Before traveling anywhere with a trailer, you should examine the limits of your current policy or, better yet, call your insurance provider and ask an agent directly.
You may be required to list the trailer on your car insurance policy and pay extra for collision coverage and comprehensive coverage for the trailer. You may choose specific coverage limits that apply to your trailer. If your trailer isn’t listed on the policy, you may have limited coverage or no coverage at all.
Can you get coverage for a trailer through your basic auto insurance policy?
If you have a liability-only policy, this means that you are only covered for damages that you cause to another person or vehicle. It does not help you with any damage to your own car.
These types of damages would be covered if you had optional coverage such as collision or comprehensive insurance policy. Collision insurance coverage would pay for trailer damages resulting from an auto accident, regardless of who was at fault in the accident. Comprehensive coverage pays for the damages to the trailer resulting from noncollision incidents such as vandalism, theft, and extreme weather.
On the declarations page of your auto insurance policy, you can find a list of the vehicles that are specifically covered. Along with the specific cars listed, there may be a specific provision for coverage for replacement vehicles and trailers being towed.
Some car insurance companies might say that if a trailer is not specifically listed on the declarations page then they do not extend coverage for the insured car towing a trailer. It is best to check your policy in advance.
The way that coverage can extend to a trailer is because it is considered third-party liability coverage that extends from the lead car.
If you think about it, it is actually the car that controls the trailer being towed even if there is an accident, so that is the rationale behind extending third-party liability coverage to the trailer as an add-on to the main car.
A good question to ask your insurance agent is whether the contents of the trailer are covered under your existing liability policy. The likely answer is no since policyholders are generally only covered for damage that their trailer causes to another vehicle.
If you have an expensive trailer or are worried about the threat of vandalism, it is probably best to have separate insurance for your trailer so that you do not have to pay out of pocket for any damages or losses.
Required insurance coverage depends on the trailer model and purpose. Trailers created to haul boats, all-terrain vehicles, cars, or other motor vehicles are typically covered under the same auto policy for the towing car. However, this policy does not cover the contents of the trailer, so you might need to purchase an umbrella policy to cover the damaged, stolen, or destroyed items.
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Is towing a commercial trailer covered by insurance?
If you are driving a commercial vehicle or towing a trailer for business purposes, this will not be covered under your personal auto insurance policy.
If you are using a vehicle for business reasons, which would include towing a trailer for a commercial purpose, then you should make sure that you have a business vehicle insurance policy.
Even if you have business insurance, you might need a separate policy for the operation of any commercial vehicles.
Should you purchase a separate trailer insurance policy?
Trailer insurance is not necessarily required under state law the way that a basic auto liability policy is.
Instead, it is generally recommended for drivers who plan to tow a trailer with any amount of frequency because of the potential for major damages from an auto accident involving a trailer.
If you plan to use your car to tow a trailer on multiple occasions, it may be worthwhile for you to look into getting a trailer insurance policy. The coverage would be broader under this policy than through your existing auto insurance policy.
Your current auto insurance company may offer a trailer insurance policy.
There may be an advantage to adding this type of coverage through your current car insurance company because they want to encourage you to take out multiple coverages through the same company.
When you are looking for a trailer insurance policy, the same general principles apply as when you are searching for a personal auto policy.
That means you want to make time to shop around for different estimates and make sure that you are not just choosing the lowest insurance premium out there because it’s the cheapest.
You also need to make sure that you are getting enough coverage and that you are working with a good insurance company.
Saving money on monthly premiums doesn’t matter much when you wind up having to pay thousands of dollars for damages.
If you are towing a trailer behind your car, then the insurance coverage for the trailer would be an extension of your coverage for the main car. The coverage for the trailer would be as a third-party liability policy because it is considered an extension of the main car.
There may be specific exemptions from coverage in your car insurance policy for certain sizes of trailers.
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