Truck and Trailer Insurance: Make Sure They Are Hitched Together!

There are many types and sizes of trailers; just drive down the road and pay close attention to all the different styles you pass on the highway. We are a very mobile society and everything needs to be able to be moved easily. It might be a load of mulch for your flower beds, building materials for the latest improvement project, a utility trailer for your job, a commercial trailer for your farm or business, a trailer to haul your lawnmower to the service shop, a travel trailer for vacation or one to haul your motorized toys to the mountains. Whatever your need or use of a trailer, you need to be aware of the liability risks you have and what is necessary to consider for the proper truck and trailer insurance protection.

Trailer Insurance Varies Depending on Several Factors

Trailer insurance can be a little confusing as coverage is applied differently depending on if the towing vehicle is insured on a Personal Auto Policy or a Business Auto Policy. Also, the type of trailer can change what you may need to consider. So, when you need insurance for a trailer and the particulars of that coverage will vary depending on several factors.

Trailers Pulled With a Personal Vehicle

Let’s begin by looking at trailers that you may pull with your personal car or pickup truck. These would possibly be the small flatbed trailer to haul your 4-wheelers. It may be a cargo trailer that you use to transport your dirt bikes or motocross. There are also specialty trailers for snowmobiles.

You may also have a trailer that you use for your tools if you are a tradesman. Or, you may have a travel trailer with a value of as little as $6,000 or as much as $70,000 or greater. As long as these trailers are titled to you as an individual, they are treated the same with regard to liability and property damage if they are insured on a Personal Auto Policy.

The Liability Limit Automatically Extends to the Trailer

First, with regard to liability, the liability limit covering the towing vehicle extends automatically to the back of the trailer being towed. You do not need the trailer listed or scheduled on your personal auto policy to have liability protection.

Physical Damage on a Trailer is Never Automatic

However, Physical Damage Coverage on the trailer is never automatic. To have coverage for damage to the trailer, the trailer must be listed on the policy. The company will require the Year, Make, Model, VIN, and, most likely, a “Cost New” or a “Stated Value” dollar amount for the unit.

Travel Trailers Can be Covered on a Separate Policy

Travel trailers can be covered on a separate Recreational Vehicle or Travel Trailer Policy. This type of policy will give you more comprehensive protection than your standard Personal Auto policy. Typically, it may provide a limit of coverage for the contents of the RV; up to $10,000 of coverage may be available. A horse trailer with living quarters could also qualify for an RV policy.

What if My Neighbor Borrows My Trailer and Wrecks it?

If your neighbor borrows your trailer and wrecks it, your policy is the one that will respond to pay the repair of the physical damage to your trailer. Your neighbor may be willing to pay your deductible, but the claim will still be charged against your policy.

What if I Borrow My Neighbor’s Trailer and Wreck it?

If you borrow a trailer from your neighbor, your policy will provide liability protection for any bodily injury or property damage you cause to others with that trailer. But, it will not pay for the damage you caused to the borrowed trailer.

Commercial Trailers Registered in a Company Name

Now, let’s consider the Commercial Trailer; the one that is registered in a company name. This would be a Business name such as an Incorporation, LLC, Partnership, Farm Name, etc.

Commercial Trailers Have Different Requirements for Liability Coverage

Let’s begin with liability considerations. Commercial trailers have different requirements related to liability coverage.

Liability Coverage is Automatic for Trailers With a GVW of 2,000 Pounds or Fewer

On a commercial auto policy, there is automatic liability coverage extended to the trailer from the towing vehicle if the GVW of the trailer is 2,000 pounds or less. That is basically a small flatbed to haul two 4-wheelers.

Trailers With GVW Over 2,000 Pounds Need to be Specifically Listed

Anything over 2,000 pounds needs to be listed on the policy showing the year, make, model and VIN.

Regardless of Size, a Trailer Must be Listed on the Policy for Physical Damage Coverage

As with personal trailers, if physical damage coverage is needed on the commercial trailer, then the trailer must be listed on the policy no matter what the size.

What Happens If I Borrow or Lend a Commercial Trailer?

When you borrow or lend a commercial trailer, the coverage is very similar to a personal trailer. The liability protection on the trailer extends automatically from the towing vehicle. So, if you borrow a trailer, the liability coverage from your commercial auto policy applies to the trailer.

If you loan your trailer to your neighbor, their policy will respond for liability claims that result from their actions. Physical damage coverage on the trailer will fall back on the owner’s policy where the trailer is listed. However, with a commercial auto policy, you can add coverage, for an extra premium, that provides protection against physical loss to a “hired or non-owned” trailer.

Is the Cargo I’m Hauling Covered?

Briefly, regarding the cargo you may be hauling, if it is your property, you may wish to have a conversation with your agent to make sure if and how it is protected in the event of a disaster.

If you are hauling the property of others, that changes the circumstances and now you may need “Cargo Insurance”. Again, this is a very important conversation to have with your agent to make sure you have coverage in place before you need to use it.

Make Sure Your Trailer is Fully Covered

In conclusion, make sure your trailer is securely hitched. And, make doubly sure you know what insurance is following you! Just as it makes no sense to “close the barn door after the cows are out,” it makes no sense to ask what insurance protection you have after that trailer unhooked and went careening down the road!

If you would like to discuss the particular circumstances regarding your situation, please contact our agency at 717-665-2283 or 800-537-6880, or send an inquiry to info@theruhlagency.com. In the meantime, happy hauling, and have a great safe vacation with your travel trailer!

Disclaimer: Information and claims presented in this content are meant for informative, illustrative purposes and should not be considered legally binding.