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Do I need trailer insurance?
Depending on the type of trailer you own, there might be different ways to find cheap trailer insurance or a higher level of coverage as well as different ways to pick out the policy that’s right for your needs.Compare trailer insurance options, what’s covered and how to find the right insurance for any kind of trailer.
It’s important to make sure you have at least some kind of trailer insurance. Specifically, it can be a good idea to check how you’re covered for third-party property damage.
Car insurance generally includes third-party property damage cover for trailers while you are towing the trailer with an insured car.
Without general trailer insurance, you might be liable for third-party property damage or injuries caused by an unattached trailer. If property is damaged or someone is injured, you might be liable for hundreds of thousands, or even millions, of dollars in legal liability.
Third-party-only trailer insurance can be very cheap and save you from a lot of trouble. Comprehensive trailer insurance costs a bit more but can also cover you for a wide range of damage to the trailer, even when it’s not in use.
Case study: Gabrielle’s experience
Trailer insurance isn’t mandatory in Pennsylvania, but I carry it because I purchased my horse trailer new and am financing it. The bank contacted my insurance company for me, so adding it was as simple as answering a phone call. Factoring in bundling and other discounts I was already getting, it added a $68 annual fee to my policy, or under $6 per month.
Don’t forget that in Pennsylvania, it is required that you register your trailer, and any trailer with a GVWR of 3,000 pounds or more needs to be inspected annually. The fines for not having your trailer registered or inspected can be pretty hefty here in PA, so it’s worth it in the long run to make sure all your ducks are in a row before hitting the road.
Get a standalone policy for your trailer
Standalone trailer coverage is a useful way of ensuring that your trailer is covered for third-party property damage or legal liability when not covered by car insurance or another coverage type.
Consider a separate trailer policy for the higher protection and contents coverage, especially if you have an expensive trailer or RV.
- The cost of a policy is largely based on the value of the trailer.
- Ideal for box trailers, stationary RVs, camper trailers and other high value trailers.
- Contents coverage may extend to a variety of different items being carried on the trailer.
- Typically more expensive than add-on trailer coverage.
- Strict limits and exclusions may apply to trailer contents coverage. For example, you might only be covered up to $750 in total. If you need a higher level of coverage, then policy extensions may be available for an extra cost.
- Contents cover exclusions apply. For example, coverage will often exclude motorcycles, jet skis and other valuable items.
Add trailer coverage to your car insurance
You can get car insurance policies that also cover trailers. Sometimes, this will be automatically included in your car insurance, while at other times you may find it as an optional extra.
If this coverage is right for you, then this might be one of the most cost-effective options. Consider this option if you have a low risk drive to the dock or your trailer would be easy to replace out of pocket.
- One of the cheapest ways to cover your trailer.
- Trailer coverage may be limited to a set value and with a range of policy conditions.
- Trailers will generally only be covered while they are attached to the insured car and might not be fully insured against theft or other damage.
- Your trailer coverage will generally be subject to the conditions of your car insurance, so making a claim means you’ll have to pay your deductible and your insurance rates could increase.
- It may not be suitable for more expensive trailers or if you regularly carry valuable items.
What about motorcycle and dirt bike trailer insurance?
When you see trailer coverage in a motorcycle insurance policy, it’s important to check what kind of coverage you’re actually getting. Motorcycle insurance trailer coverage will often refer specifically to two-axle trailers being towed by motorbikes, rather than actual insurance for a trailer that carries motorcycles or quad bikes.
General trailer insurance policies will often exclude coverage for motorcycles and other vehicles that are being carried. Contact insurers directly and specifically inquire about coverage for a motorcycle trailer, or get separate policies for the trailer itself and for the motorcycles.
- Not all motorcycle insurance policies will cover bikes while they’re being carried on a trailer.
- Not all trailer insurance policies will cover motorcycles that are being carried on a trailer.
Add trailer coverage to your boat insurance
Boat insurance will often include coverage specifically for boat trailers, and if you have a boat trailer, you’re likely to need boat insurance anyway. One of the main conditions to be aware of is that boat insurance will often not cover trailers while they are being towed.
Consider bundling boat and trailer coverage if you can find a policy with trailer coverage included or if the highest risk to your trailer is when it’s in the water.
- Trailer coverage is often included in boat insurance policies.
- The coverage for boat trailers can be limited and can vary between policies.
- Boat trailer insurance might only cover the trailer while it’s parked or during loading and unloading, and not when you’re driving.
Add watercraft trailer coverage to your boat insurance
If you need coverage specifically for a jet ski trailer, personal watercraft or smaller boat, you may be able to find it through personal watercraft (PWC) insurance. This can cover the watercraft themselves as well as the trailer.
- Cheaper than boat coverage or standalone policies.
- Ideal for personal watercraft, kayak, canoe and jet ski.
- Coverage may be limited. For example, a policy might explicitly not cover the damage a jet ski sustains while being towed or during loading and unloading.
Add horse float and horse trailer coverage to your equine insurance
There are a few different ways to insure a horse float. You can get horse floats insured under equine insurance policies, which can be a cost-effective way of getting horse insurance as well as coverage for the trailer, although coverage may be limited.
For more comprehensive coverage, such as if you have a more valuable horse float, use it for professional purposes or want more liability coverage for damage or injuries caused by the horse float, you may want to take out a separate trailer policy to insure your horse float directly.
- One of the cheapest ways to cover your horse trailer.
- Trailer coverage may be limited to a set value and with a range of policy conditions.
- It may not be suitable for more expensive trailers or if you use the trailer for professional events with your horse.
What’s covered with trailer insurance?
Much like car insurance, there are different types of general trailer coverage.
Liability damage is the cheapest type of trailer insurance which can cover you for third-party property damage and legal liability, such as injuries or damage caused by the trailer.
With comprehensive trailer insurance, you can get coverage against a wide range of different events, similar to the type of coverage you get with comprehensive car insurance. This can include legal liability and third-party property damage coverage as well as insurance for damage the trailer sustains as the result of the following:
- Fire or explosion
- Storms, lightning or hail
- Theft and damage caused by attempted theft
- Vandalism and other malicious damage
- Accidents, collisions and other damage types
If an insured event occurs, you can claim the following benefits:
- Replacement and damage coverage. You can get a brand new replacement trailer, have the old trailer repaired or be reimbursed for the cost of repairs or a new trailer as appropriate.
- Towing costs. This covers the cost of towing a trailer from the site of an incident to a repairer, from a repairer to you or to elsewhere as needed depending on the policy.
- Storage costs. This is coverage for necessary storage costs following an insured event.
- Clean-up costs. This covers the cost of removing debris from the road and cleaning up following an insured event.
What affects the costs of trailer insurance?
The cost of your policy is generally determined by the risk level and the sum insured.
- The value of your trailer. More expensive trailers naturally cost more to insure.
- The value of other insured items. The full sum insured under the policy, including all items and coverage types, can affect the cost of your policy.
- Age and driving history. Younger and less experienced drivers are generally more likely to have higher premiums.
- Frequency of use. A trailer that’s used more often is more at risk and may have higher premiums.
- Other risks. This can be affected by the types of roads you drive on, your location, and other risk levels for things that are covered under your policy.
- Your coverage types, options and deductible. More comprehensive coverage with additional options is naturally more expensive. Your deductible can also make a significant difference, with a higher deductible leading to lower premiums.
What to look for when comparing trailer coverage
One of the main things to consider is how your trailer is covered in different situations and what will be involved when you make a claim.
For example, you might have a motorcycle trailer that has the following coverage. Note that this is an example of how certain policies might work and is not necessarily true of all car, trailer and motorcycle insurance policies.
- You are covered by car insurance only when being towed without any coverage for the motorcycles.
- You are covered by standalone trailer insurance both when in use and not in use without any coverage for the motorcycles.
- You have separate motorcycle insurance that covers the motorcycles while being carried on a trailer without any coverage for the trailer.
Let’s say you back into another car with the trailer, damaging another vehicle, the motorcycles and the trailer. With this example, you might claim third-party liability and trailer damage under the standalone trailer policy, and the motorcycle damage under the motorcycle policy. In this way, you are covered without needing to make a car insurance claim and can keep your car insurance no-claims bonus and avoid a premium increase.
In all coverage types, you might want to look for the following:
- How you’re covered for damage and loss. Consider the conditions under which you can get a new replacement trailer and the situations where you can get repairs covered.
- How trailer contents are covered. Pay special attention to the exclusions. For example, many general trailer policies might not be suitable for motorcycle trailers.
- What are the limits. The total limit of your policy is the sum insured, which can get paid out in the event of a total loss. Also look at the sub-limits applicable for certain coverage types and for individual items.
- Are you fully covered. Depending on what kind of trailer you have, it can be worth considering the different types of coverage and how they might combine to cover you.
Exclusions to watch out for
It’s important to be aware of the exclusions for both the trailer itself and the contents of a trailer. For example, a specific general trailer insurance policy might not be suitable for insuring a quad bike trailer because it specifically excludes coverage for motorized vehicles under the contents section.
Some exclusions you need to be aware of:
- Contents exclusions. You are often unable to get coverage for jet skis, motorbikes or bicycles under a general trailer insurance policy. Other specific exclusions may include electronics, business items, jewelry, cash, trade tools and goods, collections and other valuables.
- Under the influence. There is generally no coverage while a trailer is being towed by someone who is driving under the influence or otherwise operating a vehicle illegally.
- Operated unsafely. If the trailer itself, or the vehicle towing it, is not being operated in a safe manner and in line with the manufacturer’s specifications, such as if it’s overloaded or if items weren’t secured according to state law, then you may not be able to claim for damages.
- Failure to take precautions. You are generally required to take all appropriate precautions to avoid claims and minimise damage. This can include properly maintaining your equipment, moving the trailer off the road following an incident and any other necessary actions.
- Deterioration, wear and tear, and depreciation. You are not covered for damage that results from deterioration such as depreciation, rust or regular wear and tear.
- Trailer type exclusions. Some policies will only cover certain types of trailers. For example, a policy might specify that it only covers two-axle trailers up to a certain mass.
- No coverage while being used for business purposes or profit. Unless you have specifically looked for a business-use trailer insurance policy, your trailer might not be covered for damage that occurs while being used for business purposes, including carrying food for profit or being rented out.
- Unapproved repairs. You will generally need to get approval for repairs before undertaking them, and you cannot claim the cost of repairs that your insurer has not approved, except for emergency repairs as specified under your policy. You generally cannot claim for damages resulting from faulty repairs unless it was an insurer’s approved repairer.
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