Boat Insurance Tips - Trailer Safety

Trailer carrying boatsIf you consider mooring fees to be a little exuberant then usually the most inexpensive way to store your boat after use is through loading it onto a trailer and storing it on your driveway, garden or backyard. Whilst more effort than just switching on the engine and going, you are no longer dependent mooring availability, you are freely able to try different areas of the coast or inland waterways to cast off from and over time inevitably save a significant sum on mooring and storage fees.

Trailers are therefore a great idea. However as a boat insurance company there is also a hidden danger. We get all too many first-hand experiences of dealing with claims surrounding the theft of either trailers whilst the boat is away in use or theft of boat and trailer when stored. Unfortunately this has always been a problem in the UK and thus we strongly advise you employ deterrents. Firstly, we stipulate that you must should use a wheel-clamp when your trailer is left unattended even when in a secure building or compound and when in your garden or on your driveway chain the boat to a permanently fixed object. This is written into our policy notes and made clear prior to purchase. The harder that you make it for the thief the less likely it is that your pride and joy will be stolen. Better still leave your boat and trailer in a locked and secured building or compound or behind locked gates.

Before you even contemplate buying a trailer though do read your vehicle manual for any tips, safety rules or instructions on towing your boat and trailer. You must also advise your car insurer that you intend to purchase a trailer for the purposes of boat towing. All insurers will agree to cover this but some individual insurers do have length restrictions and therefore you may be charged an additional premium. Boat insurance does normally cover damage to your boat and trailer whilst in transit but you will find that any liability to other road users or third parties will not be covered under your boat policy and so must therefore be covered via your vehicle policy.

Your trailer needs to be in decent condition, just like your house or motor vehicle, you should undertake regular care and maintenance as advised by equipment manufacturers. This will help to prolong the life of your trailer, reduce breakdowns and accidents on the road and help to protect your boat and vehicle. 

You need to thoroughly clean and lubricate your trailer, checking for wear and tear, bi-annually as a minimum. you should always ensure that the tyres are inflated to the correct pressures and are in good condition. You should also test your trailer electrical hook-up wiring to ensure breaklights and reverse lights are fully effective. In doing so you will also best guarantee to keep costly repairs to a minimum.

Before setting out with your boat and trailer, here is a simple checklist;

  1. The coupler, hitch and ball hitch are all the same size
  2. Coupler and safety chains are safely secured to the hitch of the towing vehicle
  3. All fasteners are properly tightened
  4. Your boat is securely tied down to the trailer
  5. There are no loose items that could fall off or cause problems to other road users
  6. Test periodically to ensure wheel lug nuts are properly adjusted and maintained
  7. Ensure your load is within the maximum load carrying tolerance capacities.
  8. Ensure you do not exceed more than 85% of a trailer's total capacity to ensure maximum safety and best performance
  9. Make sure your vehicle's side view mirrors are large enough to see both sides of your towing vehicle
  10. Ensure tyres are properly inflated to the correct pressure and the treads are legal.
  11. Wheel bearings move freely and are correctly lubricated
  12. All trailer lighting is working properly
  13. Trailer brakes are adjusted correctly and in working order
  14. You comply with all legal requirements
  15. That any water has been drained from your boat and that the drain plug has been removed
  16. Keep spare keys to both your boat mooring pin chains and wheel clamp (we also advise you keep them together and in one place)!

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