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Old 04-06-2015, 12:00 AM   #1
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Insurance coverage if exceeding rated tow weight

I have read posters who have claimed that exceeding the TV manufacturer's maximum tow weight rating will cause problems with insurance but I didn't find any posts with specific data.

So I called my insurance company, USAA, and asked them a test question:

"If I was stupid enough to tow a 10,000 lb trailer behind a vehicle only rated to tow 1,000 lbs, would you cover any and all accidents caused by my stupidity?"

The USAA insurance person said she needed to check, put me on hold for 15 minutes, and gave me an answer I wasn't expecting:

1. USAA will cover liability and damage to my tow vehicle and trailer resulting from any accident with either vehicle even if the direct cause was exceeding the towing capacity.

2. However, USAA would not cover any direct damage to my vehicle caused by the excessive tow weight such as bending the hitch.

Note that USAA insures both my TV and trailer.

I would be curious if others have asked similar questions of their insurance companies.

I'm hoping to keep this thread focused on sharing data and not opinions. Thanks.
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Old 04-11-2015, 07:52 AM   #2
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Your insurance will always pay, even if the driver is criminally liable, for example when somebody is drunk driving. The information given to you by your insurance company matches that which was given to me by mine.
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Old 04-11-2015, 07:58 AM   #3
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I don't give any unnecessary info to anybody...so they can put notes in their files.....

Call me paranoid if you will, but paranoia is the BELIEF that every one is out to get you. I am CERTAIN that everyone is out to get me, so I can't be paranoid!
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Old 04-11-2015, 08:05 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AirFoiler View Post
"If I was stupid enough to tow a 10,000 lb trailer behind a vehicle only rated to tow 1,000 lbs, would you cover any and all accidents caused by my stupidity?"

The USAA insurance person said she needed to check, put me on hold for 15 minutes, and gave me an answer I wasn't expecting:
I've not asked my insurance company a question like this, and don't plan to. I'm sort of like Rich because I don't want to give them any cause to suspect me. I do know that insurance companies, like all companies, are in business to make money, not to help us, and if they have to pay a settlement because an insured did something stupid, they would most likely not insure that person any longer. It's done all the time for many reasons.

My plan is to not do something stupid.
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Old 04-11-2015, 08:12 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by andreasduess View Post
Your insurance will always pay, even if the driver is criminally liable, for example when somebody is drunk driving. The information given to you by your insurance company matches that which was given to me by mine.
I think this example puts everything in clear perspective. Tens of thousands of folks drink and drive daily. Only a minuscule fraction of them are ever caught and it seems they have paid insurance. Should you drink and drive? Now, replace drunk driving with towing with an underrated vehicle, and ask the same question.
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Old 04-11-2015, 09:02 AM   #6
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I don't think that I would discuss this matter with my insurance company, either. I feel like it would be painting a target on my back.

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Old 04-11-2015, 09:04 AM   #7
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Having now retired from almost 40 years in the insurance business a firm answer one way or another is almost impossible. Most every companies interpretation of coverage is almost always different and all companies policies are not the same. Best suggestion is to (be prepared to fall asleep) read your individual coverage. Highlight areas you have questions on and then contact your agent and advise you are confused of what this particular area of the contract means. Unfortunately you may still not get clarification as in most cases you truly need to talk to an adjuster or if you have an attorney friend, ask them. Most people never read the coverage they have and most all would be amazed at what they assume to be covered isn't while at the same time things they think wouldn't be covered all. Clear as mud.
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Old 04-12-2015, 01:31 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AirFoiler View Post
I have read posters who have claimed that exceeding the TV manufacturer's maximum tow weight rating will cause problems with insurance but I didn't find any posts with specific data.

So I called my insurance company, USAA, and asked them a test question:

"If I was stupid enough to tow a 10,000 lb trailer behind a vehicle only rated to tow 1,000 lbs, would you cover any and all accidents caused by my stupidity?"

The USAA insurance person said she needed to check, put me on hold for 15 minutes, and gave me an answer I wasn't expecting:

1. USAA will cover liability and damage to my tow vehicle and trailer resulting from any accident with either vehicle even if the direct cause was exceeding the towing capacity.

2. However, USAA would not cover any direct damage to my vehicle caused by the excessive tow weight such as bending the hitch.

Note that USAA insures both my TV and trailer.

I would be curious if others have asked similar questions of their insurance companies.

I'm hoping to keep this thread focused on sharing data and not opinions. Thanks.

My insurer was concerned only that both tow vehicle and trailer were insured and that I complied with all the relevant laws in the operation of said tow vehicle and trailer.
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Old 04-12-2015, 02:15 PM   #9
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My insurer was concerned only that both tow vehicle and trailer were insured and that I complied with all the relevant laws in the operation of said tow vehicle and trailer.
That sounds very reasonable. GVWR, axle loads, and tire loads are examples of what may be considered laws, depending on your jurisdiction. Manufacturer recommended tow capacities for unmodified vehicles are not. If someone has a reference for legislation regarding manufacturer's tow recommendations, something as explicit as the DWI law that Rostram references and tries to draw a parallel to, it would be good to see it.
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Old 04-12-2015, 03:42 PM   #10
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I am totally, totally shocked to learn that some of the information provided on this Forum is based on uninformed opinion and not on verifiable facts!

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Old 04-12-2015, 04:22 PM   #11
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I am totally, totally shocked to learn that some of the information provided on this Forum is based on uninformed opinion and not on verifiable facts!

And therin lies the unavoidable "truth" of the world we live in: there are very few things that are black and white, "verifiable facts".
As my attorney said to me one day long ago as we prepared for an upcoming court proceeding, "there are no guarantees".
When it comes to driving and towing, I prefer to try to keep the odds stacked as well as I can in my favor. Including obeying all "ratings" as defined by engineers at the places that manufactured the trucks, trailers, tires, etc.
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Old 04-12-2015, 04:32 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dznf0g View Post
I don't give any unnecessary info to anybody...so they can put notes in their files.....

Call me paranoid if you will, but paranoia is the BELIEF that every one is out to get you. I am CERTAIN that everyone is out to get me, so I can't be paranoid!
This.

They put *everything* in your insurance file... and they will use it against you if they get the chance.
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Old 04-12-2015, 07:01 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jcl View Post
That sounds very reasonable. GVWR, axle loads, and tire loads are examples of what may be considered laws, depending on your jurisdiction. Manufacturer recommended tow capacities for unmodified vehicles are not. If someone has a reference for legislation regarding manufacturer's tow recommendations, something as explicit as the DWI law that Rostram references and tries to draw a parallel to, it would be good to see it.
You've summed it up nicely, jcl.

I fully understand why people want to steer clear of litigious insurance companies and if sticking to the manufacturer's tow recommendations helps make them feel more comfortable then that's fine. There isn't a whole lot of available evidence about insurers taking hapless tow vehicle owners to the cleaners so, until I hear otherwise, I shall be taking the advice of my insurers and staying within the law rather than be concerned about things that are pure speculation.
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Old 04-13-2015, 05:20 AM   #14
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Another datapoint ...

When the BMW dealer was trying to sell me an extended warranty for the X5d (kind of silly for a vehicle that comes with free maintenance for the first 4 years) I asked if exceeding the tow rating would invalidate the extended warrantee.

The dealer's finance manager and I read through the fine print of the extended warrantee contract. The contract had many clauses that would waive the warrantee company's liability and exceeding the tow rating was one of them.

It served as another reason not to buy extended warrantees in my book.
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