Towing another vehicle is a great skill to master, whether it’s helping get a friend home after their car has broken down, or you have a caravan you use for holidays or a trailer you use to transport work equipment.
People often ask if you need special insurance to tow another vehicle. In most cases you don’t, but if you are towing another car it will need to be insured because there’s still a chance it could be involved in an accident and damaged while in transit. Your motor insurance policy will keep you covered in that eventuality. Just like a regular vehicle, the car must be taxed and have a valid MOT if applicable.
Do I need special insurance to tow a caravan or trailer?
Insurance isn’t compulsory for towing a caravan or trailer. Most car insurance policies will cover your caravan or trailer, but they will only be covered while hitched to the towing vehicle and they probably won’t cover contents, nor damage caused by a collision.
Here the insurance experts at Adrian Flux answer some of the most common questions about using your car when towing another vehicle, a caravan or trailer.
Who can tow another vehicle with their car?
The laws for towing another vehicle, a caravan or trailer vary depending on how many years you’ve been driving. If you passed your driving test after January 1st 1997 and haven’t sat a specific car and trailer test, restrictions apply – the GOV.UK website explains all the rules.
Do I need a tow bar to tow another vehicle?
You don’t need a tow bar to tow another vehicle because all cars are built with safe and secure towing points which you can hook up to. You will need a tow bar to tow a trailer or caravan but remember, a tow bar is considered to be a modification and you will have to notify your insurer and get modified car insurance cover.
Read our blog to find out how popular modifications affect your car insurance.
Do I need to take special precautions for towing?
If you are towing another car it must display an “On Tow” sign at the back and the person behind the wheel needs to be a fully qualified driver. It’s a good idea to turn your hazard lights on to warn other drivers that you will be driving more slowly, and performing manoeuvres more slowly, than the traffic around you.
What can I use when towing another vehicle?
When towing another vehicle you can use a rope, chain or a tow strap specifically manufactured for the job.
The distance between the cars must not exceed 4.5 metres and if the distance is more than 1.5 metres, the rope, chain or strap must be made clearly visible for other road users. Most people tie a bright piece of material to the tow rope.
Can you tow a car on the motorway?
If a car has broken down on a motorway you can tow it to the nearest slip road, but you cannot join the motorway network if you are already towing another vehicle.
Can I tow a car blocking my driveway?
If your driveway is blocked by another car, the chances are the owner of it has business in your street and, hopefully, they won’t be there for long. Call on your neighbours to see if they know whose car it is.
It’s an offence to block a driveway with a dropped kerb and in most areas, local councils are responsible for enforcing parking restrictions under the civil parking enforcement (CPE). Check if your local council uses CPEs – if not, call 101, the police non urgent inquiry line, for advice.
What are the best tips for towing a car?
- Only cars with manual gearboxes can be towed.
- Check the towing rope, chain or strap for damage before setting off.
- Plan a route that avoids congested areas and lots of stop-starts.
- Don’t connect the tow rope to the bumper as you could well pull it off.
If you are towing another vehicle:
- Pull away gently and make no sudden movements or changes in speed or direction.
- Drive slowly. It will give you more time to react and give other road users more time to see you.
- Avoid sudden breaking.
- Indicate early.
- Check your mirrors regularly to ensure everything’s OK behind you.
- Stop if you notice changes in your oil pressure or temperature gauge.
If you’re the driver being towed
- Leave the ignition on to ensure the steering lock is disengaged.
- If the car has power steering or power-assisted brakes, you’ll have to work harder to keep the towed vehicle under control.
- If it’s dark, switch on the lights. It’s a good idea to turn on your hazards too.
- Make sure the car is in neutral and the handbrake is off before you start moving.
- Steer and brake in coordination with the car towing you and look out for its brake lights and indicators.
- Aim to keep the strap, rope or chain tight at all times to prevent jolting. You can do this by tapping lightly on your brake pedal.
All pictures: Adobe Stock Images.
What are the best tips for towing a caravan or trailer?
The best thing to remember when towing a caravan or trailer is to plan your journey and to give yourself extra time to get where you need to go. You will drive more slowly than normal and manoeuvres will take longer to perform.
It’s a good idea to have a practice run towing your caravan or trailer in an area where you feel confident and comfortable.
You will also need to be knowledgeable of the laws concerning towing. Read our blog to find out how to avoid committing common caravan towing offences. You can find more advice in our blog 10 tips for first time caravanners.
Call Adrian Flux on 0800 369 8590 to discuss your home, car, van and motorcycle insurance needs – 79.5% of all customers receiving an online quote in July 2020 could have obtained a cheaper quote over the phone, based on the information they provided.