Millions of fishermen, sailors, paddlers, campers, bicyclists and dirt-bike riders are breaking out their summer gear. A lot of them will hook up a trailer to haul it. But many of them risk losing their expensive toys. Although the liability insurance on your automobile will cover your trailer while it's being towed, that's not the case with other types of car insurance. Your vehicle's collision and comprehensive coverage won't kick in to cover your trailer if something happens to it while you're hauling it down the road. You'll likely need specific boat, travel trailer or personal watercraft insurance to make sure they're covered while you're en route to the local lake, nearby ocean or national park. "If it's a boat or travel trailer that you're towing, then to have it covered for damages, you'd need specific coverage just for that item," says Penny Gusner, consumer analyst at Insure.com.
Towing is risky business
If you're towing any kind of trailer, you also need to be sure to understand how to hook it up properly. "As long as the item became unhitched while your vehicle was in motion, your car insurance should extend to the accident in caused," says Gusner, but she recommends talking to your insurance agent to make sure your general liability coverage extends to your trailer. Each year, motorists are killed when trailers come lose and go hurtling down the road. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that nearly 400 people were killed in traffic accidents involving a passenger vehicle towing a trailer in 2012. The number includes both people killed when trailers came unattached, as well as other accidents involving trailers. Between 2002 and 2012, more than 4,500 people were killed in wrecks involving trailers, with more than 500 killed in 2005 alone. Before you hit the road, NHTSA recommends checking the tow rating of your vehicle to see the size, maximum load weight and maximum tongue weight (or the amount of trailer weight that would press down on the trailer hitch), of the trailer you plan to tow.