Detached caravan/trailer whilst towing.
On a caravanning forum, an argument has developed regarding owners of older caravans who have no insurance on the actual van. I have been berated for stating that at least T.P. insurance on the caravan is essential to be absolutely legal. To support my claim, I used the case of a caravan (or trailer) coming adrift whilst on tow, and then colliding with other vehicles. One or two people are adamant that the insurance policy of the towing vehicle will still cover any damage/injuries caused to third parties. The best comment I have found is on the Bateson Trailers (manufacturer) website, where they indicate T.P. cover extends to the towing vehicle "as long as the trailer is attached".
Clarity is so vague (it may vary between insures, or it may apply as strictly factual as stated on the Bateson Trailers website), that I feel clarity is essential in the interests of everyone on the road.
Perhaps someone on the forum with experience in the insurance industry could throw some much needed light on this.
Interesting point, Snowball. I have always assumed the tow car's insurance would cover such an eventuality, as the journey was commenced with the trailer attached. I am aware of instances of trailers/caravans becoming detached whilst travelling, and the car insurer has, as far as I know, always paid out. I suppose the argument could be made that in such a case the trailer is no longer attached, but I can't see any Magistrate or Judge giving this argument much credence. On the basis that most insurers pay out relevant to Court actions, I don't really see how an insurer could wriggle out of it.
My personal opinion is, like yours Rolebama, that an insurer would still be liable to pay out on the T.P. cover. However, my cynicism tells me that the combination of insurers' wriggle factors and the sometimes outlandish decisions by our courts leaves this assumption far from safe. Insurance policies are loaded with exclusions as to what policyholder can or cannot do within their cover, but worryingly vague about what they (the insurers) can deem as being outside their spheres of liability.
Most insurers, as far as I am aware, do not count the fitting of a towbar as a modification to a vehicle, neither do they ask if a vehicle will be used for towing. I always make a point of clearly declaring the presence of my towbar, and my intention to tow. The wording on the Bateson trailers website (described in my previous post) has convinced me that, in respect of towing caravans/trailers and T.P.cover, the extent of that cover including detachment of the caravan/trailer should have to be clearly stated, with no room for argument, as a legal requirement.
My caravan is insured and my car is (separately) insured for towing it. If I was driving and the caravan became detached I would assume that the claim for damage done to third parties would be against the car insurance; in fact I do not believe that the caravan insurance covers such claims.
I would offer as an analogy the situation where you were carrying luggage on the roof rack (within the weight limits of course) and it became detached causing damage to another car. In those circumstances I am perfectly confident that the car insurer would pay any claim.
I had thought about roof racks, but an insurer could always make the claim that it was an unsecure load, and maybe use that as a cop-out.
I am pretty sure they would pay out to 3rd parties. Whether they would pay for your loss is another matter. I once saw a roof rack with a bag of golf clubs on it come off a car and get run over by an artic. I saw them talking to a HATO later at a service area and looking sadly at the mangled remains. I often wondered how their claim went.
Originally Posted by Rolebama
Last edited by Santa; 21-04-12 at 15:56.
As far as I am aware, third party insurance is in effect insuring the driver (whilst in charge of a vehicle) not the vehicle, though it is usually the driver in a specified vehicle. Therefore, insecure luggage or caravan is down to the failings of the driver to secure the load or failing to maintain the caravan hitch.