Using a trailer this summer? Make sure your insurance is in tow

What would happen if the load you were towing behind your car became unattached and ran out of control down the highway? Would your current auto insurance cover you if someone were hurt? Would it cover damage to your trailer and its contents?

There's more to towing something behind your car than just attaching a trailer hitch. You need to make sure you have all the insurance coverage and know-how to keep your summer fun and worry-free.

Liability insurance coverage

If you are not worried about the unit you're towing or its contents, your existing auto insurance coverage is enough to get you on the road. If anyone or anything were damaged as a result of your trailer while it was in transit, the liability portion of your auto insurance policy would cover you.

If for some reason your trailer started rolling while it was parked in your driveway, your standard home insurance would most likely cover any resulting damage or injury. But you have to check your property policy carefully as sometimes they exclude coverage for trailers.

Collision insurance, theft insurance and vandalism insurance coverage

If you want insurance protection for your trailer in case it's damaged in an accident or if it's stolen, first you should check to see if you already have this coverage on your home insurance policy. Property insurance can be very different from company to company.

If you are happy with the coverage you have on your property policy - great. If you are not covered or think you need additional coverage, you can purchase additional insurance.

Purchasing insurance

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Buying insurance for the trailer itself can be done as an "add on" to your auto insurance policy or your home insurance policy, or you can purchase a "stand alone" RV and trailer insurance policy. The type and value of your trailer will determine what type of insurance coverage is best for you.

  1. Utility trailers (includes horse trailers, snowmobile/ATV trailers etc.)
    If you already have separate insurance for the contents of your trailer or if you are transporting things with little value (lumber, garbage), you most likely can get by with the least expensive alternative - adding coverage onto your auto insurance policy. This will cover you for collision and theft of the trailer, but will not include protection for your contents inside the unit.

  2. Tent trailer or inexpensive "live in" trailer
    If you want coverage for items inside the trailer as well as collision and comprehensive insurance, you should purchase coverage as part of your property insurance policy. This way, your home insurance extends to the contents of your trailer and you would be covered if anything inside the unit were damaged or stolen. This coverage usually does not apply if the unit is being used for a permanent residence, and not just recreationally.

  3. RV or Fifth-wheel vacation trailer
    If you own a RV or Fifth-wheel vacation trailer that contains appliances and other expensive items, your best bet is to purchase a separate RV and trailer insurance policy. This type of policy has all the added coverage you need for your personal belongings and you can also customize your coverage based on the replacement value of your unit.

  4. Boat trailers
    Often when you are arranging to insure your boat, trailer coverage is included at part of the deal, so you don't need to purchase any additional protection. But you should always check your policy to make sure you know what's covered and if there are any limits to that coverage. If you are not covered, a boat trailer is like a utility trailer and most likely your least expensive insurance alternative would be to add it on to your auto policy.


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