Insurance is vital when you tow a trailer -- any trailer. This is the case even in states that don't require a driver to insure his or her trailer. Firstly, a claim may be made against you in the event of an accident caused by your trailer in any state, including those that don't require trailer insurance. Secondly, if you have a trailer to tow your motorcycle or ATV, you probably like to travel, so you may find yourself towing across state lines. You may travel through a state that does require you have insurance for your trailer. If you're caught without it, you'll face a hefty fine, regardless of where you and your trailer hail from.
So what kind of insurance will you need? HowStuffWorks strongly suggests that you speak to your insurance agent to get to the bottom of that question. Policies covering trailers vary among states and insurance providers. Having a discussion with your insurance agent about what kind of coverage best suits you is as vital a step before hitting the road as making sure your motorcycle or ATV is properly secured to your trailer.
There are a few generalities that you're likely to find when you contact your insurance agent. Chief among them is that there aren't any auto insurance policies that extend to a trailer or its cargo in tow. In other words, the insurance policy on your coach vehicle ends at its bumper. You'll need a separate policy for your trailer. When you're towing your motorcycle or ATV, you should actually have three insurance policies covering your entire tow set-up: one for your coach vehicle, one for your trailer and one for your motorcycle or ATV. This is because all three have the capacity to cause an accident, so all three must be indemnified in case of an accident.
Let's say you're tooling along the highway with your motorcycle in tow and your trailer begins to sway. As it shifts uncontrollably to the left, the trailer strikes the car beside it. This collision jolts the motorcycle loose and it falls off the trailer and into the road, where it is struck by another vehicle. Sure, this scenario sounds nightmarish, but it could happen. With the proper insurance, you'll be covered.
In this situation, there will most likely be three claims made. First, you'll make a claim on your motorcycle's collision coverage to cover repairs to it. Secondly, the car that was struck by your trailer will make a liability claim against your coverage. Thirdly, the car that struck your dislodged motorcycle will make a liability claim against your motorcycle insurance. That covers everything, right? Not necessarily.
In most states, an accident caused by a trailer in tow or its cargo is the fault of the person driving the coach vehicle. So your auto insurance covering your car or truck doing the towing will also come into play, since the drivers of the other two cars may be allowed to make liability claims against the vehicles they came in contact with and your coach vehicle's coverage.
As you can see, it's a good idea to be properly ensured when towing a motorcycle or ATV. Again, contact your insurance agent before hitting the open road. Between good insurance and a good knowledge of various state regulations concerning motorcycle and ATV towing, you should be good to go.
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More Great Links
- Rimmer, Terri. "Motorcycle towing." Associated Content. March 14, 2007. http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/168888/motorcycle_towing.html
- Sanchez, Joann. State Farm Insurance agent. Personal interview. October 21, 2008.
- "Motorcycle trailer tie-down procedure." Sport Utility Trailers. Accessed October 27, 2008. http://www.sportutilitytrailers.com/motorcycle-tie-down-procedure.htm
- "Towing laws listed by state." Towing World. Accessed October 27, 2008. http://www.towingworld.com/articles/TowingLaws.htm
- "Towing your trailer safely." California Department of Motor Vehicles. 2007. http://www.dmv.ca.gov/pubs/dl648/dl648pt12.htm
- "Trailer/towing safety." RenTrain. Accessed October 27, 2008. http://www.delanorental.com/trailertowing.php
- "U-Haul trailer user instructions." U-Haul. Accessed October 27, 2008. http://www.uhaul.com/guide/trailer_english.pdf
- "Using a trailer this summer? Make sure your insurance is in tow." Kanetix. Accessed October 27, 2008. http://www.kanetix.ca/ic_auto_info_auto_articles_26