Ask H&H: trailer insurance

Q: A friend’s car recently broke down on the motorway while she was towing her horse home from a day’s hunting. As she was a member of a breakdown organisation, the rescue company towed her trailer to the nearest off-motorway service station. My friend then had to get her horse the remaining 12 miles home. What is the best way to insure a trailer?

BEST practice is to take out specialist breakdown cover for your trailer. According to Jeremy Lawton of Shearwater Insurance, the services you receive will depend on the company you use and the level of cover you take out.

“Standard trailer insurance does not automatically include breakdown cover; however, many companies do offer it as an ‘add-on’,” he explains.

“It’s advisable to have as comprehensive a level of cover as possible. For example, Shearwater now offers a policy that gives total breakdown cover in the UK, including emergency road assistance, long-distance recovery and home-breakdown for trailer owners. In the event of a breakdown that cannot be repaired, this policy would organise alternative transport for the horses.

“Always check the company will assist you with the emergency transportation of your horses, should they require transport from the site of a breakdown. It is beneficial to work with a knowledgeable organisation, sympathetic to the problems associated with travelling horses, should the occasion arise.”

Managing director of the Organisation of Horsebox and Trailer Owners (OHTO) Jon Phillips agrees that specialist breakdown cover is essential.

“In a recent survey, 82% of trailer owners believed they were covered by their normal breakdown policy when towing their horses,” he says.

“Although they may receive help for their towing vehicle and trailer, their horses are not usually covered. Membership of a dedicated rescue scheme is therefore paramount, and it’s important to check the wording of the terms and conditions.”

These may include the technical details of “recovery”, and extras such as transport to and overnight accommodation at local stables. (Should your insurer offer this service, the venue will be chosen from a list of suitable providers if repairs cannot be carried out near the breakdown or you are a considerable distance from home.)

“Make sure you will be recovered by experts who understand horses. Find out whether there’s a restriction on the distance of a ‘free’ tow, as this can be costly if you travel a long way,” adds Jon.

“Check whether you will receive help regardless of the cost of the recovery and the number of times you break down. Finally, make sure that your breakdown cover includes an agreement with a tyre agent, as more than a third of vehicle breakdowns are due to tyre problems. Check whether the small print requires you to carry a spare wheel or if you have to pay for tyres at the roadside.”

Information

Shearwater Insurance Services Ltd Tel: 08700 767666 www.shearwater-insurance.co.uk

OHTO Tel: 01488 657651 www.horsebox-rescue.co.uk

This Q&A was first published in Horse & Hound (29 March, ’07)