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All you need to know about towing a luggage trailer on holiday

Towing a luggage trailer can be quite daunting so here the team at Sterling insurance offer their advice on towing a luggage trailer on holiday.

Car Insurance from just £125 per year

A luggage trailer is a fantastic piece of kit when you’re off on your hols. Depending on its size, you can fill it with all sorts of luggage and equipment that will ensure your summer staycation 2020 is as memorable as possible.

And, with the surfboard, deck chairs, and suitcases safely stowed in the trailer it means more room inside the car for you and your excited passengers. The luggage trailer will also free-up boot space so you can easily get to things that you need during your journey, such as a picnic blanket, snacks and drinks.

However, towing a luggage trailer when you go away can be quite daunting and there are a number of things you should consider before doing so. The team at Sterling insurance offer their advice on towing a luggage trailer on holiday. 

Do I have a tow bar?

Tow bars generally don’t come as standard. Along with the tow bar, you will have to get an electric kit for the indicators, lights and brake lights. 

Most cars now come with all manner of electrical gadgetry, so fitting your tow bar is quite a technical job and one best done by an expert. They will have to configure things like parking sensors, Trailer Stability Programs (TSPs) and ABS so your car can handle the additional weight of the trailer. 

The cost of supply and fitting of a tow bar and associated electrics will depend on which car you drive but it will range from around £350 to £550. Halfords provide a car specific breakdown of their charges which will give you an idea of what you will pay when you go to your trusted garage. 

You should also notify your insurer that you have adapted your car with a tow bar, though in most cases it won’t impact on your premium. 

How should I pack a luggage trailer?

The trailer will ride better on the road and will be more stable if you pack your heaviest items above the axle. This may include things like gas bottles, food supplies for your holiday and the heaviest suitcases.

If you are off on a camping holiday you will know that your tent and its poles and pegs are very heavy, but this is better kept accessible and probably in the boot of the car. You don’t want to have to empty the trailer’s entire contents to get to the tent when you arrive at your destination!

Pack other things that you may need on route, such as your tool box, where you can get to it easily. 

Are there any rules I need to know to safely tow a trailer?

The laden weight of your luggage trailer and contents must be within the vehicle’s towing ability and not more than 85% of the car’s kerb weight if the luggage trailer has brakes – 50% if it hasn’t. 

Be aware that, depending on when you passed your driving test, the towing allowance may differ so you will need to check for the latest Department for Transport advice.

The maximum luggage trailer width in the UK and EU is 2.55m and indicators, lights and brakes (where fitted) must work. The trailer must display the same number plate as the towing vehicle.

Luggage trailer speed limits on UK roads are 60mph for motorways and dual carriageways and 50mph on single carriageway roads. Cars towing luggage trailers cannot use the outside lane of a motorway unless directed to do so by emergency services. 

Do I need separate insurance for my luggage trailer?

It isn’t compulsory to take bespoke insurance on your luggage trailer, but the extra cargo it enables you to carry inevitably increases your risk of loss in the event of a mishap.

Most comprehensive car and van insurance policies cover towing a caravan or trailer, but usually only for third party liability. It means you would be covered for any injury to a third party or damage to their property, but not if your luggage trailer was damaged in an accident that was your fault. You wouldn’t be covered for theft or fire damage either.

Sterling luggage trailer insurance, which costs from just £90 a year, will provide peace of mind when it comes to these issues. 

All luggage trailer insurance policies come with public liability cover, European cover for up to 30 days and a claims helpline which is open round the clock, 365 days a year.

How do I tow my luggage trailer?

You will need to tow your luggage trailer with care. When you couple up a trailer you must realise that your acceleration will be affected, as will your braking. You will need to make better use of your gears to optimise the combined performance of your car and trailer. 

Also, you will have to allow more time for your journey as you will be prohibited from some lanes and manouvres such as overtaking will need to be completed with extra care.

Probably the cause of most anxiety however is the prospect of reversing your luggage trailer but, help is at hand and there are trailer driving courses available throughout the country.  And, like all driving skills, practice makes perfect. 

A little bit of forethought may reduce the reversing you have to do. For example, park in areas when you can pull straight in and out, or consider whether it would be easier to uncouple and man-handle the luggage trailer to where it needs to be.

Don’t wait until you have arrived at your holiday destination to try reversing for the first time. Find an empty car park to get some practice in. It may be better to take a passenger with you as your vision may well be restricted by the trailer and they can get out and shout instructions to you.

The basic principle that you need to remember is that if you want your trailer to go to the right, you will need to steer to the left and vice versa.

How can I ensure my trailer and luggage is secure?

Check your trailer lights are working and your tyres have the correct pressure before setting out on your journey.

Pack the trailer carefully and drive cautiously with no aggressive acceleration, braking or cornering.

Make sure your trailer has a fitted waterproof cover and that it is secured well. There’s nothing worse than driving to the accompaniment of a flapping canvas, or arriving at your holiday destination to discover all your neatly pressed clothes are sopping wet because it rained on route and your cover leaked.

The very nature of trailers means when they are parked they can be vulnerable because they are easy to uncouple from one vehicle and couple to another. Wheel locks, however, are widely available and may help deter or even prevent the theft of your trailer. 

You could also fit a tracking system to your trailer which will help police recover it in the worst case scenario. And you can qualify for up to 17.5% discount on your Sterling luggage trailer insurance if your trailer is fitted with a data tag security system. 

luggage trailer

Does Sterling offer other trailer insurance schemes?

Sterling insurance also has bespoke value for money policies for:

Sterling’s best prices are usually available over the phone so call  0344 381 9990 for a fast and affordable quote. 

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