Does my car insurance cover towing a caravan?

 

Navigating insurance policies can be daunting if you’re new to towing a caravan. However, you’ll probably want to make sure you’re covered against all outcomes, no matter how unlikely they may seem. 

Perhaps one of the most common questions first-time caravanners ask is, ‘Does my car insurance cover towing a caravan?’

If the answer to that is ‘no’, the next question may well be something along the lines of ‘Do I need to take out additional cover to ensure my second home is protected?’

Read on if you’d like an answer to these questions, plus some general safety tips for towing a caravan. 

 

Does my car insurance cover towing a caravan?

 

Table of contents

1. What can you tow?
2. How much can you tow?
3. Does my car insurance cover towing a caravan?
4. What cover should I consider when towing?
5. Towing with heavier combinations
6. Safety tips for towing a caravan

 

What can you tow?

does my car insurance cover towing a caravan

The answer to this question depends on the category of the driving licence you have. You can easily check this to see what you’re legally allowed to tow. 

Towing laws changed on 16 December 2021, meaning that drivers with a standard category B licence (issued on or after 1 January 1997) can now:

  • Tow a trailer with a maximum authorised mass (MAM) of up to 3,500kg
  • Drive a minibus with a trailer over 750kg MAM

To clarify, MAM refers to the maximum authorised weight once loaded. 

Previously, the MAM towing allowance for category B licence holders who had not passed their test before 1 January 1997 was a trailer over 750kg, provided the combined weight of the vehicle and trailer did not surpass 3,500kg. 

However, if you passed your driving test before 1 January 1997, you weren’t affected by the rule changes in December 2021. Your towing allowance is and has always been a vehicle and trailer combination of up to 8,250kg MAM. 

While category B drivers can tow trailers up to 3,500kg MAM, they must ensure they stay within their vehicle’s gross train weight (GTW). This is the total combined weight of the car and trailer.

Touring caravans usually weigh between 800kg and 1800kg depending on their size, and their load will add to this further. If you have a large car, you may have to be selective on the size of the caravan you buy so that the overall combined weight stays below your vehicle’s GTW.  

In short, there is no specific ‘trailer licence’ needed for towing a caravan, but you should hold a category B driving licence that authorises you to tow your preferred trailer or caravan. 

Want more information on what you can legally tow with your car? Check out this guide on the gov.uk website. 

Or you can check your licence online to see what yours allows you to tow. 

Related: How to hitch up a caravan in 5 easy steps

 

How much can you tow?

does my car insurance cover towing a caravan

Checking your vehicle’s MAM is the best way to check whether you can safely tow your trailer or caravan.

The MAM is normally included on the VIN plate (vehicle identification number)—usually found either in your vehicle handbook, under the bonnet, at the bottom of the windscreen, or on the inside of the doors. 

The two following weights are always listed on the VIN plate:

  • The top figure (kg), which is the MAM
  • The middle figure (kg), which is the GTW (gross train weight)

The MAM is the vehicle’s maximum allowable mass or ‘gross weight’.

The gross train weight is the maximum allowable mass of your vehicle and trailer or caravan combined. 

You can subtract the MAM from the gross train weight to determine exactly how much you can tow in your current vehicle. 

Related: How to tow a caravan

 

Does my car insurance cover towing a caravan?

does my car insurance cover towing a caravan

Most comprehensive car insurance policies will normally cover your vehicle while towing a trailer or caravan, but only during instances of third-party liability. 

This means that you may be protected if your caravan injures someone else during a collision or causes damage to another vehicle, but the insurance won’t cover your caravan. Overlooking this can be costly, which is why many motorists opt to protect their caravan through specialist caravan insurance

Caravan insurance isn’t a legal requirement, but it may be wise to get covered if you want to protect the investment you’ve made in your new caravan. Without it, you could lose every penny. 

 

What cover should I consider when towing?

does my car insurance cover towing a caravan

If you want to ensure that your touring caravan and its contents are fully protected, you may want to seek cover from a specialist insurance provider. 

That way, you could receive help and compensation if your caravan or associated equipment is lost, stolen or damaged outside of towing—as this wouldn’t normally be covered through a standard car insurance policy. 

As a minimum, you might want to consider the following:

  • Touring caravan cover
  • Contents cover
  • Awnings cover 
  • Public Liability 
  • Accidental Death 

 

Towing with heavier combinations

If you wish to tow with combinations heavier than what your current licence allows, you’ll need to:

  • Apply for a provisional licence for a medium-sized lorry and trailer (category C1+E)
  • Pass a lorry theory test
  • Pass a C1+E driving test

Side note: If your job requires driving a medium-sized lorry, you’ll need to take extra Driver Certificate of Professional Competence (CPC) tests.

Once you have done this, you’ll be allowed to tow with a combined weight of up to 12,000kg MAM.

 

Safety tips for towing a caravan

does my car insurance cover towing a caravan

It’s important to be safe when towing your caravan to protect yourself and others around you, and avoid potentially costly claims against you.

 

#1 — Choose a tow bar that is type-approved

Unless your current vehicle was first used before 1 August 1998, you must only use a tow bar specifically designed for your car. It must also meet European-type approval regulations. 

To ensure your tow bar is type-approved, check whether it has:

  • A type-approval number 
  • Details of the vehicles it’s approved for 

 

#2 — Ensure your mirrors meet legal requirements

This step is straightforward but no less important. 

For your mirrors to meet legal requirements and provide a suitable view of the road behind you, they need to be adapted if your caravan is wider than the read of your car

You can get a pair of towing mirrors for as little as £25, and all you have to do is attach them to the existing mirrors on your car. Towing mirrors give you a greater field of vision and help you feel more confident when towing. 

 

#3 — Test your brakes beforehand

Before hitching up your caravan and hitting the road, you should check that its brakes are in good working order. 

It’s a legal requirement for your caravan to have a working braking system if its weight surpasses 750kg once loaded. It should also be secured with a breakaway cable to reduce the likelihood of an accident if it becomes detached from your car. 

 

#4 — Drive with extra caution

The best way to stay safe on the roads when towing a caravan is to have patience and take things slowly.  

You should also ensure you have a comprehensive car insurance policy in case you need to make a claim, as we explain above in our ‘Does my car insurance cover towing a caravan?’ section.

When you’re setting out on the road, make sure you:

  • Give yourself and others extra time and space 
  • Take corners with extra room and care 
  • Never allow passengers in the caravan 
  • Ensure your number plate displays your car’s registration and is lit up in the dark 
  • Ensure your lights panel has no faults before setting off
  • Abide by the 30mph speed limit in built-up areas, the 50mph speed limit on single carriageways, and the 60mph speed limit on dual carriageways

If you find the idea of towing a caravan intimidating, you can take a caravan towing course to boost your confidence. Training providers and courses can be found through:

If you think a towing course could benefit you, it’s well worth researching your options to see what might be available.

 

Specialist touring caravan through Ripe

Now you know that car insurance doesn’t always fully cover your touring caravan, you might want to seek specialist caravan insurance for your home-from-home instead.

Through Ripe, specialist touring caravan insurance can cover your caravan up to the value of £75,000. You can also choose additional cover options to protect your contents and awnings if you wish.

Cover also includes Public Liability and Accidental Death cover of up to £10,000 in case you accidentally injure someone or cause damage to third-party property.

Learn more about how touring caravan insurance can help you, and get an instant online quote now. 

Please note the information provided on this page should not be taken as advice and has been written as a matter of opinion. For more on insurance cover and policy wording, see our homepage.

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