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insurance for cargo trailers & contents ?

I just bought a 6 x 12 cargo trailer to use for storage between shows, to travel to the shows and also to alleviate having to load and unload the pottery and my display before and after each show. Should I contact my auto insurance company to add this on or should I buy some other kind of policy to protect my investment if it is stolen or vandalized? If I contact my auto company will they want me to place my vehicle on a business policy, which would be a bigger expense ? How are you handling this as artists? Also any advice on locks for the hitch, we purchased one to cover the ball, what else would we need?  Thank you, Jackie

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Comment by Jim Parker on September 24, 2012 at 10:03am

Your auto insurance company can issue a policy to cover the trailer itself from theft, damage and liability. This is a separate policy, and shouldn't affect your auto rate. You also need to have inland marine insurance which covers the contents of the trailer. This can be part of a business liability & theft policy, or a separate policy, depending on how you insure your business. Inland marine will cover the cost of replacing the contents while on the road, as well as stored in the trailer, but may not cover retail value. Make sure you discuss this with your agent. Most times you will only get the cost of goods lost, not your estimated retail price.

Depending on how juicy your trailer looks, you may want to secure the axle with a boot of some kind, to immobilize the trailer. A hitch lock won't help if the trailer can be lifted by the tongue and towed away. Universal Boot carries a few good options. Padlocks for every door on the trailer are also a good idea.

Comment by Don Mabry on September 24, 2012 at 10:29am

I don't know who you have your insurance with but I use State Farm and they added my trailer right onto my auto policy. However, I have it titled in my name rather than the business name but they do know what I'm using it for.  Jim's suggestion of an axle boot is a good one.  I don't have one but I'm going to look into it.  I have a hitch lock but an accomplished thief could simply tow the thing off if they wanted.

Comment by Jim Parker on September 24, 2012 at 10:40am

I had a double axle trailer stolen from a Marriott Towne Place Suites in downtown Ft. Worth a couple of years ago. They simply dragged it away, hitch lock and all. Now I have a boot on each axle. I also use a steering wheel lock on the truck when parked overnight at a motel. 

I have State Farm as well. My separate trailer policy is about $75/year. 

Comment by Carol Larsen on September 24, 2012 at 10:42am

There is a reason for insurance agents - they are there to answer your questions and advise you. They are licensed to do such, so that is your best source. Unless someone here is licensed, take it only as advice. 1st - if you are in business, you should already have business insurance in place. Since this is business related, you need to go to your agent and discuss this. If you don't have business insurance, it's time you get some, you will need it on many levels including what you have listed needing insurance. I am being to the point here because what you are asking is the agents job to advise you. Mine is thru State Farm because it's easier and less expensive to work with the agent you are already using for your auto/house/etc. I pay $300 a year for all my business liabilities including $50,000 in stock whether it's at my house, in the trailer ($25/yr), in the motorhome ($700 a year) at a show, etc. 

Comment by Carol Larsen on September 24, 2012 at 10:48am

PS I just had my first claim against it too. I was injured during a criminal act against the business while traveling in the motorhome from Wisconsin to Michigan coming from one of our biggest shows of the year. If I seem a little too the point (blunt)...I am very disgusted over the horrendous amount of paperwork, being called a liar, making things up, you name it that has gone on over the last two weeks. Your post couldn't be more timely. The bottom line at the end of each person interrogating me was - I AM INSURED FOR THIS, do I need to sue to make you stop this non-sense and do the right thing. (we are talking the arrogant Dr. I went to, my insurance agents, the claims adjustor, etc) 2 weeks of this aggravation and they are all now bending over to help me. Talk about stress...but the bottom line is - I AM insured for this very situation. Hence why I shared with you my costs. I am just now getting calmed down while I am still trying to produce product for my peak show season...which is so far behind because of this situation at the moment... 

Comment by Rich Terry on September 24, 2012 at 10:49am

The trailer must be added to your existing auto policy but it will not cover the contents if you are using it for business. Odds are if something happened to the contents and your auto coverage found out they would cancel your policy since your vehicle is also be used for business and they were not aware of it. ACT insurance has a policy for liability as well as product coverage. It is a bargain compared to a business policy with inland marine coverage. However beware that the coverage of product has a minimal payout since it is based on cost plus labor and not retail value.

Jim is right about locking your trailer. I carry three of these cables with me and use solid body locks to lock the cables through the holes in both wheels and then generally to a light post, tree, etc. I have puck locks on the doors.

One of the best security features you can add to a trailer is an identifying logo or name on the top and sides of the trailer. So it can be spotted from the air.

Comment by Carol Larsen on September 24, 2012 at 10:51am

PSS the Dr. is being reported to the Medical Licensing Board here in Michigan for his remarks and behavior towards me. No one needs to put up with what he put me thru, accused me of, etc. I suffered ruptured discs in my neck with pain radiating down my right arm, reduced range of motion and he literally called me a liar. We had some yahoo "young adults" blow out our front windshield on the motorhome.

Comment by Carol Larsen on September 24, 2012 at 11:00am

And the one thing people forget is that while you pay for this insurance, when you have a claim, the insurance company is not there to be your friend (as the commercials try to portray) they are a business protecting their bottom line. So, make sure you take pictures, document everything, who you talked to / when what/you name it. I did...thank goodness for smartphones! And it helps when my dad was chief rater of insurance for the State of MI. Whenever I drop that bomb on an agent - they shut up real fast, but most people don't have that vantage point. So, it's not just about having insurance, it's about making sure you have the proper records to be able to recover your losses, during a stressful time when no one wants you to.

Comment by Jim Parker on September 24, 2012 at 11:04am

I agree Carol. Having good inventory records and visual proof of the condition of the trailer before and after is key to recovery after a loss.

Comment by Carol Larsen on September 24, 2012 at 3:16pm

Terry you are so right about the top! We didn't use our trailer very much...but I was going to put a big duct tape number on top of it for that very reason since it's one of those things people who steal wouldn't think about looking to change or get up there to look although most trailers aren't that high up - they still are.


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