Towing and motorbike insurance

If you want to use your motorbike for towing, you need to make sure you’re properly insured and that your trailer's safe and legal.

Amy Smith
Amy Smith
Updated 12 February 2021  | 4 min read

Insurance for towing with a motorbike

You can tow a small trailer if you have a full motorcycle licence and the right motorcycle insurance.

To get cover, the trailer must be designed to be pulled by a bike and attach to its rear axle.

Key points

  • Check whether your insurer covers you for towing before riding with a trailer
  • Some insurers give third party trailer cover as standard, or might be able to add cover for an extra cost
  • You might also be able to cover the value of your trailer on your policy by declaring it as an accessory

If you tow without the appropriate cover and you’re involved in an accident, your insurer might refuse to pay out for a claim, so it’s best to check the policy wording if you aren’t sure if you have cover or not.

Insurance for motorbike trailers

Most insurers only cover towing a trailer on a third-party basis.

That means the trailer itself won’t be covered if it's lost or damaged in an accident.

If you have an accident, even if you’ve got comprehensive insurance, you’ll only be able to claim for the repair or replacement costs of your bike, not for your trailer.

The third-party trailer cover would insure you for injury or damage your trailer causes to someone else or their property.

If you’ve got comprehensive insurance, you might be able to declare your trailer as an accessory and get it covered in this way.

You’d be able to recover the cost of your trailer if you have an accident or it’s stolen, but premiums for this type of cover are likely to be more expensive due to the extra cover.

What if I break down or crash?

If you’ve got breakdown insurance for your motorbike, check the terms to see if your trailer is covered too.

Otherwise, you could face a costly tow-truck call-out to recover your trailer.

Motorbike trailer size and weight

The motorbike you’re using to tow must have an engine size of 125cc or more. It must also be clearly and permanently marked with its kerbside weight.

Kerbside weight is the weight of the bike without passengers or any load, except full fuel, oils, water and fluids

The trailer must be no more than one metre wide and must be clearly and permanently marked with its unladen weight.

When the trailer is loaded, it can’t weigh more than 150kg or two thirds of the kerbside weight of the motorbike - whichever is lighter.

When you hitch up your trailer, the distance between it and the rear axle of the motorbike can’t be more than two and a half metres.

Full motorbike towing specifications can be found on the government’s website.

Towing weights example:

Your motorbike can tow a trailer that weighs up to 150kg or two thirds of its kerbside weight, whichever's lighter

If your bike weighs 181kg, two thirds of that is 120kg. As this is the lighter amount, your 181kg bike could tow a trailer weighing up to 120kg

Motorcycle towing speed limits

These as the same as for a car:

  • Up to 60mph on a dual carriageway or motorway
  • Up to 50mph on a single carriageway with a national speed limit

You must comply with the set speed limits on all other roads.

Taking your motorbike and trailer abroad

Towing and motorcycle laws vary between countries. For example, you might need to carry extra equipment and spare parts to comply with local laws.

Make sure you investigate before you travel, and check you have European cover on your motorbike insurance.

If you're planning a trip to the EU and most European countries, you just need to carry your insurance certificate with you to prove you're covered

But in some Eastern European, Middle Eastern and North African countries you need to ask your insurer for a green card for your motorbike a few weeks before you travel. You have to carry a physical copy of the green card with you and you'll need an extra green card for your trailer.

Towing safety tips

  1. Check your motorbike’s handbook to find its maximum towing capacity
  2. Never overload your vehicle or trailer - the stability and driveability of your motorbike will be compromised if you do
  3. Load heavier items mostly over the axle of the trailer and make sure there’s a downward load on the tow ball
  4. Fasten your load securely so there’s no risk of something flying loose
  5. Secure all locks and catches and double check any cables are secured before setting off

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