Many people assume that their car or truck insurance also covers their trailer when they are pulling a trailer. That isn’t always the case. Verifying that your trailer is covered before you hit the road is essential.
Does my truck insurance cover my trailer?
If you drive a semi-truck with a trailer attached to it, your truck liability insurance will cover any third party’s personal injuries and property damages. However, your trucking liability insurance doesn’t typically cover the damages to the trailer itself.
In order to have coverage for the trailer, you need to obtain trucking physical damage coverage, this coverage protects the truck itself, including the trailer, if the trailer is a part of the truck.
If the trailer is not a part of the truck, and you don’t own it. This is usually referred to as a non-owned trailer. In this case, you need to obtain something called trailer interchange insurance. This insurance will cover the trailer if it gets damaged by collision, fire, theft, explosion, vandalism, weather events, and other covered causes.
Who needs trailer interchange coverage?
If you haul cargo in a trailer provided to you by your shipper or your broker, you must have trailer interchange coverage to protect the trailer. Trailer interchange coverage is an add-on coverage or a stand-alone policy that protects non-owned trailers when they are damaged by any reason.
You should be aware that even if you have a comprehensive commercial truck insurance policy, including trucking physical damage coverage, your policy doesn’t protect the non-owned trailer. It only protects the trailer if you actually own it and it is actually attached to your truck permanently.
Does my car insurance cover my trailer?
Usually, if you are towing a trailer for personal use, like a boat trailer, your automobile policy will have liability coverage that includes your trailer. However, that only applies if you own the trailer too. Also, notice that we said liability coverage. Liability means the policy would cover damage caused by your trailer, not damage caused to your trailer, but each policy is different.
Many automobile policies will not cover your trailer if it’s vandalized, stolen, or damaged in an accident. Those situations require a separate, trailer-specific insurance policy. Also, you must ensure that you have state minimum liability insurance on the vehicle doing the towing any time you have your trailer on the road.
Will my insurance cover if I’m towing the trailer out of state?
Typically, if you are towing your personal trailer out of state and have an accident that causes property damage or bodily injury, your auto insurance policy should cover the liability up to your policy limits. If the area you are traveling to has higher liability limits, your insurance limits should have an out-of-state liability clause that meets the increased limits.
Different trailers require different kinds of coverage
It should come as no surprise that the kind of coverage you need for your trailer depends on the type of trailer you have. For example, a utility trailer may be covered under your liability policy, but the contents of the trailer might not be protected. Also, you may need a separate policy to cover a travel trailer you’re towing. If your trailer is covered, you need to talk to your insurance agent to determine if the trailer’s contents are covered.
What about a rented trailer?
Often, your automobile insurance policy won’t cover a trailer you’ve rented. Your credit card company’s insurance for rental cards also typically doesn’t extend to cover trailers. So, if you’ve rented a trailer from U-Haul or some other company, you should take the insurance that the company offers because your automobile policy likely won’t cover the trailer if something happens.
Types of trailers
Here are some of the common types of trailers:
- Conventional: These trailers are the most common and are typically between 12 and 40 feet long.
- Fifth wheel: These trailers attach to a hitch inside the bed of the truck towing them.
- Pop-up tent: These trailers are collapsible trailers used for camping.
- Truck camper: These are actually mounted in the truck’s bed but are still considered part of the family of trailers. They tend to have an area for sleeping over the truck’s cab.
- Horse: This one seems self-explanatory, but these are the trailers that usually haul horses.
- Toy hauler: These trailers haul ATVs or motorcycles but also have a living space.
- Cargo or utility: These are small trailers used for such things as landscape jobs, odd jobs, or moving.
Do I need specific insurance for my trailer?
You’ll notice that we say “my trailer”. This means that you have to own the trailer. And yes, if you own the trailer, typically, the liability coverage of the vehicle towing the trailer will cover the trailer, too, up to a specific size. The trailer must be hitched to the vehicle for the coverage to extend to the trailer. Not all insurance companies extend liability coverage to the trailer, so you must check with your insurance agent before you get your trailer on the road.
Liability coverage will not cover any damage caused to your trailer. If your auto policy does cover your trailer, it likely only provides liability coverage. You have a couple of options if this is the case. One is to add a physical damage rider that covers your trailer to your auto insurance policy (if your company has this option). The other is to purchase a separate recreational vehicle or trailer policy, depending on how your company labels these policies.
There are a couple of other considerations when looking at trailer insurance. If the trailer isn’t hitched to anything and rolls into something, there is no coverage without a specific trailer policy. The second consideration is whether you own the trailer outright or if it is on a loan. Your bank may require a particular kind of coverage as a part of the conditions of your loan.
Often if you own both the trailer and the truck, your truck liability insurance policy will extend liability coverage to include your trailer. However, rented trailers or borrowed trailers might not be covered. Liability policies won’t cover damage to the trailer, so it’s essential to consider a separate trailer policy if you are often on the road with it. You also need to verify whether you need a specific kind of policy to satisfy the requirements of a loan.
If you have questions about whether your insurance policy covers your trailer, contact your insurance agent to discuss the matter.