Are trailers covered by my car insurance?

Car insurance trailer coverage typically extends to flatbed, pop-up, fifth wheel, and travel trailers. Standard car insurance trailer coverage only provides partial liability protection.

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Joel Ohman is the CEO of a private equity backed digital media company. He is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, author, angel investor, and serial entrepreneur who loves creating new things, whether books or businesses. He has also previously served as the founder and resident CFP® of a national insurance agency, Real Time Health Quotes. He has an MBA from the University of South Florida. Jo...

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Reviewed by Joel Ohman
Founder & CFP®

UPDATED: Aug 31, 2021

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Here's what you need to know...

  • Certain styles of trailers are often covered by insurance
  • If you question whether your specific trailer is covered in your policy, it is best to speak to an agent
  • To ensure your property is always covered, you can purchase a recreational vehicle policy

Car insurance not only covers the vehicles listed on the policy, but also additional vehicles that are defined in the policy booklet for customers of certain companies. Your coverage options could extend further than what you realize.

When you borrow a vehicle, rent a vehicle, buy a new vehicle, trade your vehicle in, or tow a trailer, each vehicle is covered even though it may not specifically be listed on the declarations page.

Customers can become easily confused when it comes to what types of trailers are covered and what they are actually covered for. Read this guide to your insurance and trailers so that you know whether it is time for an additional trailer insurance policy.

As you are hunting for a policy, start comparing rates from multiple companies now by using our FREE tool!

What does your auto insurance cover?

While your auto insurance does extend to some trailers that are registered to one or both of the named insureds, a standard personal car insurance policy provides only partial protection.

Only some types of trailers are covered under the standard policy, and a majority of insurance providers will extend coverage for liability damages only.

You will need to review your policy information or call into customer service in order to speak with an agent to verify that your vehicle insurance policy has the same rules as most products sold in the nation today.

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What types of trailers are protected?

There are several types of trailers that you can purchase for personal use.

Some trailers are going to be able to be covered, and others are not. It is important to distinguish between the covered recreational vehicles and the options that require their own policy altogether. For example, homemade trailers may not fit the bill, but factory crafted recreational trailers might. It’s always best to check before jumping to conclusions on what’s covered in your auto policy.

Here is a breakdown of the types of recreational trailers that you can buy that will be partially covered under your car insurance:

  • Flatbed Trailers

Trailers that are designed to haul various types of cargo are called flatbed trailers. Smaller models can be towed with your own personal Class C license. These are covered by liability insurance when the trailer is registered in your name.

  • Pop-up Trailer

The pop-up trailer is an inexpensive recreational vehicle that folds for convenience and easy towing. Since the trailer is relatively small, a pop-up trailer can be towed by a mid-sized vehicle or SUV.

  • Fifth Wheel Trailer

A fifth wheel trailer offers living space and a bi-level floor plan. There will be a bedroom area, a separate living area, a dining area, and a bathroom.

The fifth wheel has all of the amenities that are found in a motorhome without the motor. You can choose models in lengths between 21 feet and 45 feet.

Since the fifth wheel trailer is towed behind a private passenger SUV or truck, liability coverage will extend to the fifth wheel.

  • Travel Trailer

Like a fifth wheel trailer, a travel trailer is a larger option that includes a full bath, kitchen and bedroom for comfortable vacationing, much like a motorhome.

Since the trailer connects to a hitch of a vehicle that is capable of towing, it is covered while hitched to the vehicle for liability coverage. You’ll want to make sure that your registration is up to date with all the equipment and vehicles that you own.

What are the types of recreation vehicles that aren’t covered or considered a trailer?

Aside from the requirement that the trailer is owned by a person who is insured, the only other requirement is that the trailer is being towed by a listed vehicle on the policy. Since most vehicles require a standard policy, this shouldn’t be an issue.

Recreational vehicles that are not towed behind a personal car or truck will not receive the liability coverage extension.

Since these are typically Class A and Class B motorhomes, they will require their own specialty RV insurance.

How will liability coverage protect you when towing an owned trailer?

Not only are there risks when towing a trailer, the average damage caused in an accident with a hitched trailer is higher than the average damage reported in the standard accident.

This is why it is important to understand how your liability insurance works.

The likelihood of having an accident is much higher when you are towing a trailer.

Liability coverage consists of both Bodily Injury Liability and Property Damage Liability. Bodily Injury, which will be written on your declarations page as BI, will pay for the expenses to treat third-party injuries and to pay for other final expenses if a person dies.

The policy will only pay up to the per person and the per accident limits stated on the contract.

Property Damage pays to repair property that is damaged when you do not own it. The limits apply to all of the property damaged in the accident and not to each vehicle.

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How much liability is enough?

Due to the fact that you are exposed to more risk when you are towing a trailer, you may need to raise your limits before you hit the road. We can’t stress enough that it’s better to be safe than sorry!

You are only required to carry as much liability insurance as is required by the state officials, but these state minimums are never enough.

You will need to discuss your budget, your assets, and your needs when you are raising the limits to make a decision. It is recommended that you carry no less than:

  • $100,000 per person
  • $300,000 per accident
  • $100,000 in property damage

How can you get coverage for physical damage on your trailer?

Your personal liability insurance extends to a towed trailer, but physical damage on the policy does not.

For people who own trailers that do not hold much value, liability insurance may be enough. For the owners of valuable, expensive or financed trailers, physical damage is a must.

To get coverage, you will need to purchase a separate recreational vehicle insurance policy.

Coverage under a recreation vehicle policy will protect the trailer and also your belongings that are hauled inside of the trailer. The policy will include comprehensive and collision cover with deductibles of your choice.

If you live in the trailer, you will also need personal liability coverage that would normally be afforded on a residential insurance policy.

Be sure to compare different plans before you make any decisions. Affordable rates are out there, it may just take a little bit of digging in order to find what suits your budget.

Whether you are shopping for a new trailer or you have a trailer you have been towing uninsured, it is time to price coverage.

Trailers will be protected for liability losses as well as damage losses when you buy an RV policy. Even if you think you don’t have the type of trailer that is covered, it never hurts to get further details on trailer insurance, to be on the safe side.

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