Trailer Exclusions in Auto Insurance

There are all kinds of trailers. There are mobile home trailers, boat hauling trailers, car hauling trailers, horse trailers, and campers. Some automobile insurance policies exclude all trailers from coverage. Some permit coverage of a trailer only if it is designed for use with a private passenger automobile and is described in the insurance policy. Commercial truck trailers and semitrailers have their own insurance needs and are beyond the scope of this article.

Just the attachment of an uninsured trailer to an automobile in violation of an automobile insurance policy’s trailer exclusion was enough, in one case, to deny recovery of damages in an automobile collision, even though the trailer did not come into contact with the other vehicle. When a truck, which was insured under a policy that permitted a trailer to be used with a private passenger automobile, was using the trailer for commercial purposes at the time of a collision, exclusion of coverage was permitted because of the commercial nature of the trailer’s use.

A camper, which was involved in a fatal highway accident, was found to be an “owned automobile” for purposes of an automobile policy that provided coverage arising out of the use of an owned automobile. The policy indicated that a “utility trailer” pulled by “owned automobile” was deemed to be an “owned automobile.” The camper, which had a dining area, kitchen, bath facilities, and a bedroom, was designed for use with a private automobile. The insured only used the camper for vacation trips. Thus, the camper was a permitted “utility trailer” and not an excluded “home trailer.”

Where an automobile liability policy provided that it did not apply while an automobile was being used for towing a trailer, an insurance company was not liable for injuries suffered when the trailer being towed by an insured truck came loose and struck another vehicle.

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