Does auto insurance cover towing a trailer?
Liability auto insurance will extend to an eligible trailer in many situations but not all. The average liability coverage rate costs $43.03 per month but many people who tow trailers or live in RVs full-time need more than liability insurance to keep themselves financially protected if the unexpected were to happen.
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UPDATED: Apr 29, 2022
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|Summary Details||From the Experts...|
|Liability coverage costs an average of $516.39 per year||Quadrant Information Services|
|States like Arizona have specific laws defining the maximum speed you can drive with a vehicle in tow||Arizona Legislature|
|Before you take a trip with your trailer in tow, it's important to do a safety check to keep you, your passengers, and other drivers safe as well as decrease your chances of damaging your vehicle while on the road||California DMV|
Towing a trailer comes with its risks. No matter how experienced you are, accidents can happen and the risks are higher when a heavy trailer is hitched on to the back of your private passenger car or truck. You may be asking, does my auto insurance cover towing a trailer, or do I need separate insurance for my trailer?
Before you take off for your next camping trip or pack the trailer to go cross-country, it’s important that you assess your insurance coverage and identify where there are gaps in protection.
Your type of auto insurance coverage may provide protection that will extend to a trailer, but not in all circumstances. Read this guide to towing trailer insurance and learn everything you need to know about building a robust insurance portfolio.
If you are in the market for new auto insurance for your trailer, start comparing auto insurance rates now by using your ZIP code in our free tool.
Personal Auto Policy and Trailers
Are trailers covered by auto insurance? Does towing affect insurance? Answering these questions requires spending a bit of time discussing basic auto insurance and what is and is not covered. Read through the next few sections to learn more.
What is a Personal Auto Policy?
A personal auto policy (PAP) is the auto insurance coverage you are typically required to carry to meet the minimum insurance coverage standards set by the state in which you reside. This can include liability, personal injury protection (PIP), medical payments (MedPay), and uninsured/underinsured motorists (UM/UIM), but the exact laws vary by state.
The state requirements are typically referred to as minimum liability auto insurance coverage and as we already noted, are necessary in order to legally drive. Watch this video to learn more about liability coverage.
The Insurance Information Institute provides an overview of the coverage requirements by state, which we’ve summarized below so you can find the minimum requirements in your state.
|State||Insurance required to legally drive||Minimum liability limits|
|Alabama||BI & PD Liab||25/50/25|
|Alaska||BI & PD Liab||50/100/25|
|Arizona||BI & PD Liab||15/30/10|
|Arkansas||BI & PD Liab, PIP||25/50/25|
|California||BI & PD Liab||15/30/5|
|Colorado||BI & PD Liab||25/50/15|
|Connecticut||BI & PD Liab, UM, UIM||25/50/20|
|Delaware||BI & PD Liab, PIP||25/50/10|
|District of Columbia||BI & PD Liab, UM||25/50/10|
|Florida||PD Liab, PIP||10/20/10|
|Georgia||BI & PD Liab||25/50/25|
|Hawaii||BI & PD Liab, PIP||20/40/10|
|Idaho||BI & PD Liab||25/50/15|
|Illinois||BI & PD Liab, UM, UIM||25/50/20|
|Indiana||BI & PD Liab||25/50/25|
|Iowa||BI & PD Liab||20/40/15|
|Kanses||BI & PD Liab, PIP||25/50/25|
|Kentucky||BI & PD Liab, PIP, UM, UIM||25/50/25|
|Louisiana||BI & PD Liab||15/30/25|
|Maine||BI & PD Liab, UM, UIM, Medpay||50/100/25|
|Maryland||BI & PD Liab, PIP, UM, UIM||30/60/15|
|Massachusetts||BI & PD Liab, PIP||20/40/5|
|Michigan||BI & PD Liab, PIP||20/40/10|
|Minnesota||BI & PD Liab, PIP, UM, UIM||30/60/10|
|Mississipi||BI & PD Liab||25/50/25|
|Missouri||BI & PD Liab, UM||25/50/25|
|Montana||BI & PD Liab||25/50/20|
|Nebraska||BI & PD Liab, UM, UIM||25/50/25|
|Nevada||BI & PD Liab||25/50/20|
|New Hampshire||FR only||25/50/25|
|New Jersey||BI & PD Liab, PIP, UM, UIM||15/30/5|
|New Mexico||BI & PD Liab||25/50/10|
|New York||BI & PD Liab, PIP, UM, UIM||25/50/10|
|North Carolina||BI & PD Liab, UM, UIM||30/60/25|
|North Dakota||BI & PD Liab, PIP, UM, UIM||25/50/25|
|Ohio||BI & PD Liab||25/50/25|
|Oklahoma||BI & PD Liab||25/50/25|
|Oregon||BI & PD Liab, PIP, UM, UIM||25/50/20|
|Pennsylvania||BI & PD Liab, PIP||15/30/5|
|Rhode Island||BI & PD Liab||25/50/25|
|South Carolina||BI & PD Liab, UM, UIM||25/50/25|
|South Dakota||BI & PD Liab, UM, UIM||25/50/25|
|Tennessee||BI & PD Liab||25/50/15|
|Texas||BI & PD Liab, PIP||30/60/25|
|Utah||BI & PD Liab, PIP||25/65/15|
|Vermont||BI & PD Liab, UM, UIM||25/50/10|
|Virginia||BI & PD Liab, UM, UIM||25/50/20|
|Washington||BI & PD Liab||25/50/10|
|West Virginia||BI & PD Liab, UM, UIM||25/50/25|
|Wisconsin||BI & PD Liab, UM, Medpay||25/50/10|
|Wyoming||BI & PD Liab||25/50/20|
Now that we’ve covered the PAP basics, we’ll look at the kinds of vehicles typically covered under a PAP and when and how a trailer is covered.
What vehicles are covered in a Personal Auto Policy?
A PAP provides coverage for more than just the covered vehicle. By definition, there are vehicles other than those listed on the declaration’s page that will receive some or all of the coverage that’s carried on the listed car(s).
However, while a policy may cover other vehicles, it doesn’t mean that absolutely every motor vehicle that’s operated by the insured will receive the broadest coverage on the policy.
Instead, the policy defines covered vehicles and scenarios where a vehicle that’s not on the policy might receive coverage after a loss. The following are listed as covered vehicles on the standard policy form:
- Newly acquired vehicles
- Temporary substitute vehicles
- Replacement vehicles
- Trailers in tow
This means auto insurance for towing a trailer is often covered by your personal auto policy, but there are qualifications, which we’ll discuss in a later section.
How is a trailer covered under a Personal Auto Policy?
The broadest coverage on any vehicle listed on the policy will extend to newly acquired vehicles and also to temporary substitutes, but that’s not the case with trailers in tow. Instead, your liability coverage will extend to the trailer in tow.
The main reason insurers justify extending the liability coverage is because it’s believed that damages caused by a trailer are still the result of the actions of the driver in the lead car.
Under the PAP, trailers that are in the process of being towed will only receive third-party liability coverage from the lead car.
Does liability coverage protect you when towing a trailer out-of-state?
The limits of liability that you carry for Bodily Injury and Property Damage will pay if the trailer rolls over or jackknives and causes injury or damage to someone else’s property.
If you’re crossing state lines and you have low limits, these out-of-state liability limits will bump up to the state requirements where you’re located. The same applies when you’re not towing a trailer, choose to buy liability only coverage, and are crossing state lines.
What trailers are eligible for coverage in tow?
Not all trailers will receive the liability coverage extension. So does my auto insurance cover me towing a trailer? Only if you own it and it is registered in the name of the named insured on the lead car’s insurance. So if you’re towing someone else’s trailer, your liability coverage won’t provide any protection.
Coverage is only automatically afforded while the eligible trailer is attached to the vehicle. So what if you’ve rented the trailer you’re towing? Typically your liability insurance coverage will not cover rented vehicles, including trailers; you’ll need to buy specific insurance for a tow trailer rental through the rental company for protection.
It’s also important that you know that any vehicle with its own motor won’t fit the definition as a trailer in tow, even if the motor is not in operation when you’re towing the vehicle.
When it comes to auto insurance, there are also differences between towed trailers and RVs. If you’re thinking about making the jump from a towed trailer to an RV and even giving up the residential life for a more transient lifestyle, you’ll need to find the right insurance company for your specialized needs.
While a life completely on the road may seem daunting, it can come with great rewards, especially in the 10 best states for full-time RV living.
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Other Insurance Options for Towing Your Trailer
If you decide that the liability coverage included as a part of your standard PAP ins’t enough for your trailer, do you have other options? If so, what are they? What happens if your trailer is robbed? How is that covered? Keep reading to find out more.
Can I buy insurance coverage for my trailer?
There may be times when it’s appropriate to carry coverage that includes weather damage and other physical damage for your trailer (keep in mind the liability coverage already extended to your trailer only covers third-party damages and injuries). If you feel it’s necessary, you can buy a specialty trailer insurance policy (sometimes referred to as travel trailer insurance) from a provider that covers recreational vehicles.
So what does travel trailer insurance cover? This type of policy will provide comprehensive coverage when the trailer is parked and collision coverage when it’s in tow (check out the FAQs section to learn more about what these types of coverage generally include). Like a personal auto policy, you’ll have deductibles that you must meet before the insurer will pay for a damage claim.
Losses covered under comprehensive and collision policies include:
- Hail storm
- Falling objects
- Glass breakage
What else is covered under a trailer insurance policy?
In addition to comprehensive and collision coverage, specialty trailer policies can provide added layers of protection for unique scenarios that would only present themselves when you own a trailer.
It’s common for policies to include coverage for roadside assistance, for lodging after a loss, and for the contents inside of the trailer if it’s furnished or you’re carrying expensive belongings.
What happens if my trailer is robbed?
How your contents are covered and valued depends on the type of claim you’re filing.
If you don’t have a trailer insurance policy (which as we noted in the previous section would cover theft) and your valuables are stolen out of your trailer, you can make a claim against your home insurance policy.
The belongings will typically be valued based on replacement cost valuation. What does this mean? According to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) replacement cost is defined as:
“the cost of replacing property without a reduction for depreciation due to normal wear and tear.”
This means you’ll be reimbursed for the total cost of the items that were stolen. However, if you have specialty coverage, you’ll need to review your policy for limits and valuation methods.
Is there coverage if I live in my trailer?
Trailer coverage will cover you in several situations. Some providers have their own unique rules when you’re living in the covered trailer. For example, you may need a special endorsement written into your policy if you’re living in the trailer.
Be sure to ask your agent when coverage applies before assuming that your standalone insurance will cover a live-in trailer.
If you’re ready to shop around for standalone coverage on your trailer, it’s time to compare pricing. Many specialty providers offer affordable coverage with special add-ons that can save you financially.
Speak to licensed insurance agents to find out costs and compare quotes. You’ll need your trailer information, value, and the coverage limits you’d like to carry so that you can see just how much you might pay. Once you’ve reviewed the price estimates, you’ll be one step closer to building a sizable insurance portfolio.
The Bottom Line for Auto Insurance and Trailers
Does your auto insurance cover towing a trailer? If you’re ready to get out on the road with your trailer, there are a few things to keep in mind.
- Your standard liability coverage (part of your PAP) may cover your trailer, but only if it’s considered eligible
- Eligible trailers and vehicles are defined as utility trailers, travel trailers, and horse trailers that you own and are registered in your name
- Your auto insurance won’t provide liability coverage for a rented or non-owned trailer
- If you feel you need additional coverage, you can purchase a specialty policy that covers recreational vehicles, which can include both comprehensive and collision coverage for your trailer
It’s always best to discuss exactly what is covered in your policy with your insurance agent. If you don’t like the answers or want to find a more affordable policy, shop around, speak to other licensed insurance agents, and use our free quote tool to compare available rates.
Still have questions about towing a trailer and insurance to cover it? Read through these frequently asked questions to learn more.
How much does liability insurance coverage cost?
Recall that liability coverage is the minimum amount of coverage you can purchase in order to be able to legally drive. Take a look at this table, which is populated with data from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC), to see average liability coverage rates across the country.
|State||Average Annual Rates for Liability Coverage|
|District of Columbia||$628.09|
As you can see, costs can vary widely by state. Keep in mind these are averages that may not reflect exactly what you’ll pay, particularly because there are a number of factors that determine your auto insurance rates including age, gender, ZIP code, driving record, credit score, and more.
What is core coverage?
Minimum liability coverage, collision coverage, comprehensive coverage, and full coverage are all part of core coverage. Since we already discussed liability coverage, we’ll take a moment to define the other forms of core coverage below.
Collision coverage provides protection in the event you are in a collision with another vehicle or object (like a tree, for example). This video explains the collision coverage basics.
Comprehensive coverage, by contrast, provides protection for “other than collision” incidents including theft, vandalism, and weather damage. Take a look at this video to learn more.
Full coverage is a combination of liability, collision, and comprehensive coverage.
What states require trailer insurance?
While most states have laws regarding the kind of break system installed on your trailer, and some states like Arizona define speed maximums (when you have a trailer in tow, your speed cannot exceed 55 MPH in the state), there are no state laws regarding trailer insurance, because you are not legally required to insure your trailer.
Does my auto insurance cover towing a boat?
If you’re a boat owner and want to head out to the water for the weekend, you may be asking if boat trailers are covered under auto insurance. The boat itself will not be covered (recall that vehicles with their own motors are not covered by your auto insurance liability coverage, even when they’re in tow).
However, if you’re in an accident while towing your boat, the damages to your vehicle and the vehicles of anyone else involved will likely be covered by the appropriate collision coverage in a typical auto insurance policy.
If you feel you need protection specifically for your boat, you can speak to a licensed insurance agent about a boat policy.
Does auto insurance cover towing a horse trailer?
Yes, horse trailers are considered eligible under most standard liability coverage policies, as long as the necessary qualifications are met (that you own the trailer and are the one towing it).
Does towing a trailer damage your car?
While towing a trailer doesn’t necessarily mean damage to your vehicle, it can cause damage, particularly if you don’t pay attention to the towing capacity of your vehicle as compared to the weight of the trailer.
If your vehicle is overloaded because your trailer is too heavy for the engine and frame hauling capacity, your engine could overheat, which can cause serious internal vehicle damage. This can also cause strain and damage to your vehicle’s frame and overheated breaks.
To ensure you’re not driving unsafely or risking damage to your vehicle by towing a trailer, it’s important to conduct safety checks (including vehicle towing capacity versus your trailer) before you head out on the road. The State of California Department of Motor Vehicles provides a comprehensive list of equipment to check, which is a good resource when you’re preparing for a trip.
Start comparing auto insurance rates for your trailer now by entering your ZIP code in our free tool.