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UPDATED: Mar 13, 2020
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No matter how experienced you are at towing trailers, it can be dangerous. When you’re driving with a trailer in tow, you need more time to stop and more room to turn.
Since the risk of getting into an accident is much higher with a trailer hitched to the back of your car, it’s important that you have the right type of accident protection.
Your car insurance will offer you some protection while you’re pulling a trailer, but there are limits, too. In some cases, you’ll need extra insurance when you’re leaving for your trip.
Compare the coverage you need for pulling a trailer and get the best price you can. Enter your zip code in our free rate tool above.
If you’re not sure how your current personal car insurance policy works while a trailer is hitched to your car, here’s a guide to help:
What is a covered auto?
Your auto policy comes with a very detailed booklet. While it’s a booklet most consumers hardly ever read through, this booklet is sent to you for a reason. It includes what’s covered, what’s not covered, and the terms that you must comply with.
In the Personal Auto Policy booklet, there is a specific section that defines covered autos.
In the covered autos section of the policy, it says that all of the vehicles listed on your declarations page are covered. Included in this definition of covered autos are the following vehicles that aren’t listed on the policy itself:
- Newly acquired vehicles purchased during the term
- Rented vehicles when the contract is in the named insured’s name
- Borrowed vehicles the policyholder does not own
- Owned trailers that qualify
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When is a trailer eligible for coverage?
For a trailer to be classified as eligible under your policy it needs to meet the criteria set by the insurer. With most companies, the same criteria are used. Here are the conditions that need to be met for some of the coverage on your policy to follow your trailer:
- The trailer must be owned by the policyholders on the policy
- The trailer must have a valid registration
- The trailer must weigh less than 10,000 pounds
- The trailer must be hitched to a covered vehicle on your policy
- You can’t be living in the trailer permanently
When you’re pulling an owned trailer that’s classified as a covered auto, not all of the coverage that you have on your current insurance will extend. Coverage extensions to trailers are unique because they aren’t private passenger vehicles.
Because of this, the only coverage that will extend while the trailer is being towed is the liability coverage limits.
Does this mean that damage to the trailer isn’t covered?
Your comprehensive and collision coverage will pay when you’re in borrowed and rented cars, but not when you’re towing a trailer. If the trailer were to jackknife and crash into a pole, the car would be repaired but the trailer wouldn’t.
You would have to carry a different type of specialty coverage for those damages to be repaired.
The same liability limits that you carry on your personal autos will extend when you’re in a crash and the trailer is the one that makes contact with the other party’s property.
One of the main reasons that your liability coverage will pay when it’s not a covered car is because it’s being towed by the car that had liability protection. Since your actions in the car dictate whether or not you’ll have a collision, Bodily Injury and Property Damage will pay.
How do you get coverage for the trailer?
You can buy a separate policy for the trailer if you need damage coverage. It’s especially important that you get trailer insurance when it’s financed or it holds a lot of value. You’ll have to choose deductibles and decide if you need extra liability protection.
Most companies also offer protection to cover the contents in your trailer. This would include anything not permanently fixed to the vehicle, much like a property insurance policy covers your personal property in the home.
You’ll have to decide what limits of coverage you want and the premiums will be based on the limits.
The next time you’re leaving for a cross-country trip you need to assess your insurance to decide if it’s enough. If you feel like your limits are high enough, you can leave your policy as-is.
When you need more protection, get instant auto quotes to see how much additional coverage and higher limits would cost. Start to get instant quotes and choose the best policy for you and the family.