Towing Operations Insurance
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This article focuses on hook operations including trucks with classic hooks or small beds designed to carry a single vehicle, and also on towing boats, motor homes, and other things. For rigs carrying multiple vehicles, see the article on auto hauler insurance.
What to Know
Your standard auto or general liability policy will not cover you for towing operations; you need specialized coverage. These coverages include:
- Liability, bodily injury — covers you for injuries to other persons for which you are held responsible.
- Property damage — covers you for damage to other persons’ property (NOT including the vehicle or other thing you are towing) for which you are held responsible.
- Cargo – as a hauler you can be held liable for theft of or damage to a vehicle you are towing, including while your rig is unattended, is underway, or during hookup operations (ofter referred to as “on-hook towing coverage” for towing operations). If you store vehicles, boats, or other things you also need coverage for garage operations. Your cargo coverage must be written so as to provide coverage for all of these things (also see separate article on cargo insurance).
- Ramp, chain, tarp, and binder coverage — if applicable to your rig; covers these items for fire, theft, vandalism, and damage suffered in a collision or rollover.
- Constructive total loss or diminished value — If you tow, for example, a new car or boat and damage it along the way, the dealer might not be able to sell the car or boat as new anymore, will sell it at great loss, or will sell it as scrap! On the other hand, a standard cargo policy might only pay the cost of repairing the vehicle or boat, which might be much less than the reduction in price that the dealer will suffer. You could be held liable for the difference. This coverage protects you.
- Over-height loads — Covers you if you damage your load while driving under a low bridge or other structure.
- Collision — covers your truck and trailer for collision with another vehicle or stationary object and for rollovers.
- Comprehensive — covers your truck and trailer for fire, theft, vandalism.
In addition to the coverages above, you might also want:
- Medical payments (medpay) — covers your and any passengers’ medical payments for injuries suffered while you are driving your truck.
- Towing & storage — covers towing & storage for truck and equipment that has been damaged.
- Debris removal — covers costs of removing debris after a collision, rollover, or cargo-spill.
- Earned freight — covers you if you arrive at the delivery point with the goods but are not paid, or are only partially paid, for the delivery due to damage to the cargo; earned freight coverage allows you to recover the freight charges from your insurer (instead of the shipper).
- Loss mitigation (aka sue & labor) — covers costs you incur to prevent further damage to cargo after a collision, rollover, or other incident.
- Downtime — covers you for up to $100 per day for up to 30 days if you are unable to work due to damage to your truck.
- Loan/lease/gap — if you make a small downpayment and have a long-term loan and then, shortly after you buy your truck, it is stolen or totaled, you will likely owe more on the loan than the truck is worth, and thus the payment you receive from your insurer for the loss of the truck will be less than what you owe. Loan/lease/gap insurance covers you for the difference.
- Family Emergency Expenses — covers you for up to $2,500 for family travel expenses if you are injured when far from home.
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