Does my car insurance cover me towing a trailer?

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In a nutshell...
  • When you buy auto insurance, the policy provides a lot more coverage than what’s listed on your declarations page
  • Under the terms and conditions of your personal auto policy contract, it specifically says that covered autos don’t have to explicitly be listed on your declarations page
  • For a trailer to qualify for coverage, it must weigh less than 10,000 pounds and be registered in the named insured’s name

If you’re prepping for a cross-country trip towing your travel trailer, it’s important to plan ahead.

Not only do you need to learn the safest technique for hitching and towing your trailer, you also need to be sure that you have plenty of protection in case you have a loss.

Before you buy insurance, you should look to see how your current auto insurance protects you while you’re towing a trailer.

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Know Where to Find the Answers About Your Insurance Policy

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If you’re wondering if your auto insurance will cover your trailer, the first place that you should look is your Personal Auto Policy booklet.

While it is lengthy and wordy, it specifically says what is and isn’t covered by your insurer. Any question that you have can be answered by referencing this book.

That’s why it can be intimidating to do coverage research on your own without consulting an expert.

How trailers are covered can be found in the booklet under the section titled Part A: Liability Coverage.

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Trailers Fit the Definition of Covered Auto

It’s fair to assume that you’re only covered when you’re driving vehicles that you’re paying premiums for.

Under the definitions section, the following are defined as covered autos:

  • A newly-acquired vehicle that was purchased after the term started (only covered for 14 to 30 days)
  • A temporary substitute that’s being used while your car is being repaired or serviced
  • A rental car
  • A trailer

For policyholders that are unfamiliar with how contracts work, it can be surprising to learn that more than just your listed vehicles are defined as covered autos.

Is any type of trailer covered?

Not just any type of trailer is covered. In order for the coverage to extend while the trailer is hitched, it needs to be a recreational vehicle that’s owned by one or more of the named insureds on the policy.

You can’t get a commercial trailer registered in your name and expect your policy to extend to it.

For the owned trailer to meet the covered auto definition, it must have a Gross Vehicle Weight of less than 10,000 pounds.

Trailers Don’t Get the Same Coverage as Cars

A temporary substitute auto and a newly-acquired vehicle will both get the broadest level of coverage that’s listed under your policy, but trailers are only partially covered.

Instead of liability and physical damages coverage following the trailer, only liability coverage will apply.

Liability coverage extends only while a covered auto is towing the covered trailer.

Since you’re operating the vehicle and not the trailer, the company will pay for third-party damages and medical bills if there’s a loss.

Coverage pays the same if the towing vehicle or the hitched trailer hits the other party.

What happens if the trailer is damaged?

If the trailer is damaged after a loss, you can’t file a claim for that damage on your personal auto policy.

Since physical damage won’t extend, you need to have a standalone policy for the trailer if you want comprehensive and collision.

Trailer policies don’t just provide coverage to pay for the damage, they also provide contents coverage and personal liability much like a home policy does.

If you’re living in the trailer short-term, having the contents coverage and personal liability coverage is a must to protect your finances.

Make sure that your liability limits are high enough to pay for a catastrophic loss before you tow your trailer on the open road.

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