Flatbed trailers tend to have a fairly simple design to support large, heavy objects, such as machinery, pallets and heavy vehicles. To keep these objects secure on a flatbed, which is more exposed to the elements than other trailers, operators have to use chains or specialized tarps. Unfortunately, securing these heavy, large items can be dangerous. In 2007, the Department of Labor and Industries in Washington State reported 4 very severe injuries to workers who were securing items to trucks, including one 49 year old man who fell from his flatbed when the wind blew and caught his tarp. His workman's comp claims topped $170,000 and he was out of work for over 4 years.
There are risks involved in loading and unloading heavy objects from your trailer, but the good news is, insurance can help you mitigate the risk of loss from accidents. Insuring your flatbed is a smart move because, like all things that have wheels and travel at high speed, trailers can do damage. For example, they can increase the stopping time of the vehicle they are attached to and can fishtail in high winds. Because they are attached by a relatively simple hitch mechanism, trailers can be attractive to thieves.
A flatbed trailer can be expensive to replace. The cargo on your trailer may also be valuable to you or to a customer or client. Flatbed trailer insurance can protect you by covering the trailer for damage or loss, as well as the value of the cargo.
Trailer Theft and Damage Statistics
- There is an estimated $1 billion in theft of construction trailers and tools from job sites each year
- Nearly 90% of these thefts occur on the weekends
- Nearly $2 billion in damage occurs each year when trailers separate from passenger vehicles
Is Commercial Flatbed Trailer Insurance Required?
If you use your flatbed trailer for commercial purposes, such as hauling equipment to a job site, you will most likely be required to carry insurance by state law. Some form of commercial vehicle or flatbed trailer insurance is highly recommended in order to avoid liability risks and loss, even if it is not required. The following are some of the many reasons you may want insurance on your flatbed trailer:
- Someone pays you to haul their goods, equipment or vehicles for a fee.
- You hire a driver to transport equipment on your trailer.
- Your trailer is used on a job site, such as for hauling construction machinery.
- You use your trailer to haul excessively heavy equipment, vehicles or tools.
- You hire people to load and unload heavy, bulky or hazardous items.
Be sure to find out about your state’s requirements for commercial vehicles and trailers if you use your trailer for business. You may need to perform regular safety inspections if your trailer is over a certain weight. If you are transporting your own equipment or machinery and your state does not require flatbed trailer insurance, then evaluate your ability to cover a loss and/or liability costs if you cause damage to another vehicle, person or property with your trailer.
You will also want to make sure you have the right coverage in place for the risks you face in the work you do. For example, if you transport landscaping or construction equipment on your trailer, you will need to find out whether that equipment is covered for loss or damage while being transported.
Is Flatbed Trailer Insurance Required for Personal Use?
While flatbed trailer insurance coverage is available in many states, it is typically not required by law. However, if you do use your flatbed trailer only for personal use, it is a good idea to determine if you need insurance to cover your specific risks. Here are some considerations:
- Many car insurance policies will not cover a trailer unless you specifically call your insurance company or agent and add it to the policy. Therefore, if you buy a trailer after your auto policy is in force, be sure to notify your agent.
- Trailer coverage on your auto policy may not be enough to cover all risks to your trailer, including your liability risks, damage to your trailer or replacement value if it is stolen.
- If you may lend out your trailer from time to time, you want to make sure it is covered under those circumstances.
- Your car insurance policy may not cover the cargo you are hauling, even if it does cover the trailer itself.
- If you use your trailer for hauling items such as your motorcycle or all-terrain vehicle, make sure those items will be covered if you have an accident while transporting them on your trailer.
While flatbed trailer insurance is typically not required for personal use, be sure to learn about the laws and requirements in your state. If you are financing the purchase of a trailer from a bank, the lender will most likely require you to have insurance on the trailer to cover potential loss until you pay off the loan. Even if your lender does not require coverage, it is important to ask a qualified agent whether flatbed trailer insurance makes sense for you.
What Coverage Should I Get for My Flatbed Trailer?
Your vehicle insurance policy may include trailer liability coverage. If not, you will need to buy this coverage to protect yourself financially in the event of a liability claim or lawsuit. You may find that most trailer insurance policies come as a package of several different kinds of insurance, which could include liability, collision, and comprehensive, amongst others. Other insurers may let you "break out" your coverage and select the types of insurance you want to buy.
Probably the most important coverage for a flatbed trailer is the coverage against theft – not just of the trailer, but also equipment that is on the trailer. Unfortunately expensive construction equipment and trailers can be a target for thieves when left unattended. There are things you can do to prevent theft, but insuring your trailers would be a wise business move in case your trailer is left overnight on a construction site or storage lot.
How to Get Flatbed Trailer Insurance Quotes
Searching for the best policy for your needs can be a challenge. Comparing multiple quotes takes time. Whether you are looking for more affordable coverage than you currently have, or you have a new trailer to insure, it might be the right time to start looking for coverage.
When you're searching for flatbed trailer quotes, make sure you are looking at reputable, knowledgeable insurers. Check with colleages as well as online resources to make sure that the company you're considering has a good track record. AM Best and a few other insurance rating agencies can help you determine the reputation of potential insurers. When you compare 3 or more quotes, you'll get a good sampling of the price range for insuring your trailer and you can make a sound decision on coverage that best meets your needs.