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Does my car insurance cover towing a caravan?

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If you're planning on taking your caravan on a road trip in the UK, it's important to make sure you have the proper insurance to cover you and your vehicle. However there is more than just insurance to be concerned about: towing (and particularly reversing) are driving skills in their own right, and there are limits on the size of caravan (or any other trailer) that you can tow; and these depend on your driving licence.

First, though, let's consider the insurance:

Will I be automatically covered for towing?

Usually: yes. Many policies allow for towing (provided that you are licenced to do so) but they usually don't cover damage to the caravan itself, even if you have comprehensive cover for your car. If you do want to protect your van in the event of a car accident you'll probably need a dedicated caravan policy.

The price of this caravan insurance will vary depending on a number of factors, including the type of insurance you choose, the make and model of your caravan, and your own personal driving history.

According to research by the Caravan and Motorhome Club, the average cost of caravan insurance in the UK is around £200 per year. However, this can vary significantly based on the factors mentioned above.

Do bear in mind, though, that not all car insurance policies include cover for towing; so it's important to read the fine print carefully. If in the slightest doubt, ring your insurer and ask. The penalties for not being insured are severe, and 'not knowing' is never an acceptable excuse.

Does my licence cover me for towing a caravan?

There are a few things you need to know about towing limits. First off, the date when you passed your driving test is going to be a big factor in what you can tow. This can get a bit complicated (sorry, but we don't make the law 😀) and the law does keep changing but it is imperative that you stay within the limits.

You can check on just what your licence permits you to drive on this UK Government Driving Licence website.

What about trailer weights?

There is a lot of misinformation about permitted weights on the Internet and we have found incorrect figures even on 'expert' websites. This is probably because the rules have changed so much recently, and the 'so-called 'bonfire of regulations' as a result of Brexit has complicated matters even further.

Rather than publish figures that may quickly become obsolete (and risk our readers falling foul of the law) we recommend that you take a look at the latest government information, which you can find on this web page about towing with a car.

You also need to get your head around the concept of MAM, or Maximum Authorised Mass. This is just a technical term for the total weight of a vehicle, trailer, caravan, etc; but it refers to a fully loaded vehicle, complete (in the case of a caravan) with water, fuel, food, personal belongings; even the contents of the portable WC! There should be a plate on the vehicle showing this.

It is mandatory that this total weight is NOT exceeded, and penalties can include heavy fines as well as the possibility of licence suspension.

Can I be insured for towing an American caravan?

Possibly; but you would probably need to contact a specialist caravan insurer. Many American caravans don't meet EU safety standards so you can't tow them on UK roads unless they comply. The rules are (again) complex, but there is an explanation on this UK Government website.

So, there you have it. Towing a caravan in the UK is all about licence entitlement, the weight of your car, the legality (or otherwise) of what you are towing, and the maximum authorised mass of it. Since the legally permitted limits have been varying so much it is absolutely vital that you make sure that your licence covers you for that shiny new caravan you have your eyes on, before you buy it.

When shopping around for insurance, be sure to compare policies from different providers and read reviews from other caravan owners to find the best deal for you. Oh, and don't forget to ask about any discounts that may be available, such as a no-claims bonus or a discount for being a member of a caravan club.

Then again you could sell the caravan and book int B&Bs instead.

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