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Driving with a trailer – what are the insurance implications?

22/07/2021

Driving with Trailer
Trailers are handy for all sorts of things, whether you’re taking garden waste to the tip or transporting heavier items like bikes or furniture. But does your car insurance cover you when you’re driving with a trailer, or should you take out a separate trailer insurance policy?
Does car insurance include cover for trailers as standard?

While policy features and exclusions do vary from one provider to the next, many car insurance policies do provide policyholders with some level of coverage when they’re towing a trailer.

However, it’s important to bear in mind that these policies will usually only provide third party cover for the trailer, and this is likely to hold true even if you have a fully comprehensive car insurance policy yourself. In other words, if your trailer causes injury to someone else or damage to their property your policy should cover the cost of compensating that third party, but it won’t cover the cost of damage to your own trailer or its contents.


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Do I need trailer insurance?

Trailer insurance is not a legal requirement in the UK, but it’s certainly worth considering because most car insurance policies won’t cover the cost if your trailer is damaged or stolen or something happens to the contents of the trailer.

Of course, if you’re only using a trailer for a single journey (and that journey isn’t going to take you from one end of the country to the other) you might decide to forego trailer insurance, particularly if your car insurance policy covers you in the event of damage to a third party’s vehicle.

If you’re planning to use your trailer fairly regularly, though, it might be worth investing in a relatively cheap trailer insurance policy.

It’s also worth bearing in mind that some specialist trailer insurance providers sometimes offer more comprehensive packages including accidental damage, European cover and insurance for high value items.


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Will a separate trailer policy protect my No Claims Discount?

No, a standalone trailer insurance policy is intended to protect your actual trailer against a range of risks, such as theft, malicious damage, accidental damage and storm damage, but unlike car insurance or van insurancethis type of policy doesn’t protect third parties or their vehicles.

If you’re involved in an accident while towing a trailer and you were at fault then your car insurance policy would need to cover the third party’s costs, which means your No Claims Discount would be negatively affected.

Of course, if you weren’t at fault and your insurer can claim back your costs from the person who caused the accident then you should be able to retain your No Claims Discount.

If a trailer is covered are there any size or weight restrictions?

Your car will have a maximum towing weight which you shouldn’t exceed – you’ll be able to find this in your vehicle handbook. Going over the limit is potentially dangerous and could also invalidate your insurance – if in doubt, weigh your car and the trailer at a public weighbridge.

In terms of what you can legally tow, it depends on when you passed your test:

  • If you passed before 1 January 1997 you can tow a vehicle and trailer with a combined weight of up to 8,250kg maximum authorised mass or MAM (this includes the maximum allowed load).
  • If you passed on or after 1 January 1997 you can drive a vehicle up to 3,500kg MAM while towing a trailer up to 750kg MAM. You can also tow a trailer over 750kg MAM as long as the combined MAM of the trailer and vehicle is no more than 3,500kg.

If you want to tow anything heavier, you’ll need a category C1+E licence.

Does a caravan count as a trailer, or does this need a different type of insurance?

It’s worth checking your own insurance provider’s terms and conditions because policy features and exclusions can vary, but in most cases caravans are treated in the same way as trailers so you should be covered for any third party damage you might cause. However, unless you take out a separate caravan insurance policy your caravan and its contents usually won’t be covered by your car insurance policy even if it’s damaged during a car accident.

Do horseboxes need a different kind of insurance, or is trailer insurance suitable?

This depends on the type of horsebox you have. If you’ve got a motorised horsebox (meaning it’s more like a motorhome than a trailer because it has its own engine) then it’s treated just like any other self-powered road vehicle and will require its own horsebox insurance policy before you’ll legally be allowed to drive it on public roads.

If your horsebox is a trailer towed by your car, though, then the same rules that apply to a trailer will usually apply to that horsebox – meaning most car insurance providers will cover you for third-party damage but your horsebox trailer and (more importantly) your horse will not be insured. For that, you’ll need to take out specific horse insurance.


This article is intended as generic information only and is not intended to apply to anybody’s specific circumstances, demands or needs. The views expressed are not intended to provide any financial service or to give any recommendation or advice. Products and services are only mentioned for illustrative rather than promotional purposes.

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