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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Having the proper insurance for towing a few thousand pound vehicle without its own driver and control system is important, so, let's use this thread to discuss general insurance concerns when towing. For instance, in some states, a vehicle policy will not cover a tow vehicle (and in others, some policies might). Damage coverage and belongings coverages are usually separate policies as well. Improper use, being above weight and certain issues with the towing vehicle (eg: your Ascent) are grounds for denying all or part of a claim in most states.

REMEMBER:
  • What's applicable in your state does not necessarily apply in all states (except that it is illegal to exceed the towing vehicle's tow rating - that's Federal).
  • What applies on YOUR insurance policy may not apply on everyone else's, even if they live in the same state. Different carriers do different things, and even the same carrier has different types and levels of coverage.
  • Don't suggest someone should break the law because you think your math is more important or because you think the Ascent can do it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 · (Edited)
In previous discussions, multiple people suggested it was ok if the GVW of the trailer exceeds the Ascent rating.

Alas, fact is, that's actually illegal nationwide.

Subaru Ascent Owner's Manual - Page 387 - Revision D - Electronic Version:
(it's in all versions, but on different pages)

"Although towing regulations for trailer or caravan vehicles vary by state/region, all regulations agree that specifications such as the maximum gross trailer weight must not exceed the lesser of the following:
  • Maximum gross trailer weight
  • Maximum gross tongue weight
  • GVWR
  • GAWR"
As I said before, it is LITERALLY the law. the trailer's finished weight CANNOT exceed the Ascent's 5,000 pound tow rating without breaking the law. And, every supporting text I can find anywhere says Max Gross Trailer Weight cannot exceed the tow rating either and, for the sake of not navigating state laws and for the sake of not being stuck fighting to prove you have not exceeded the weight limits, GVWR should not exceed it either.

Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but, I researched this, numerous times, before I first ever made the claim. It's even in the chart below for those confused by the wording.

3185
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 · (Edited)
Exceeding the manufacturer recommended standards?
"While states laws regarding towable RV’s and motorhomes vary, federal law applies country-wide. There are also manufacturer recommended standards that should not be ignored; failure to adhere to these recommendations is not only dangerous, but could increase the judgement or award in the event a lawsuit is filed against you. Negligent towing could also leave you open to criminal charges and your insurance claim being denied."

Points to be aware of:

  • On the Ascent, that means the trailer's Gross Trailer Weight must be 5,000 pounds or less, and it must not be filled over 5,000 pounds. And the tongue weight must be 500 pounds or less (and your Ascent's cargo weight must be accordingly decreased).
  • Can you prove that? If your trailer GVWR exceeds 5,000 pounds, it's not that easy to prove, unless you're traveling between weigh stations.
More Info:
Over weight?
"As if the dangers associated with towing an overweight vehicle weren’t enough, check this out. If you’re in an accident and your RV is overweight, you can be found liable for the accident and your insurance doesn’t have to cover your claim because of the extra weight. All the more reason to take this weight thing seriously!"

Points to be aware of:

  • In virtually every case involving an overweight tow vehicle or towed vehicle, the legal definition is "reckless endangerment" or similar. In the event of a fatality, manslaughter can be the additional charge.
  • Being over weight includes (a) exceeding the tow vehicle's tongue weight, (b) exceeding the tow vehicle's tow weight, (c) exceeding the tow vehicle's GAWR-R, (d) exceeding the GVWR of the trailer, (e) exceeding the GAWR of the trailer.
More Info:
Final thoughts on Trailer Weights
Every insurance company has a team of Claims people, Special Investigations Unit people, and lawyers to address those factors. Specific weight ratings do not need to be in such recreational insurance binders, unless a particular state has specific statutes - but those generally state a maximum for a certain license class, as already defined by state law. Not following the manufacturer recommendations, or violating federal regulations, is, in and of itself, the problem, and does not require any additional specificity in any policy.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Insurance Coverage Snafus
Some people go to the expense of getting trailer insurance, but then do not check with their auto insurance UNDERWRITER (not broker, folks... talk to your Underwriter) to ensure that, by towing, they have not invalidated their CAR insurance. Some insurance policies do not cover you or your vehicle when your vehicle is used for towing.

Always make sure that you discuss such matters with your underwriter.
 

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To the same point having a trailer with a 4000lb gvwr doesn't prove it wasn't overloaded either. IMO the set of circumstances that would leave you open to such an issue are so small and narrowly defined it isnt worth so much focus. In your posts you are trying to use GVW and GVWR interchangeably. They are not, a sub $20 trip to the local cat scale will take care of all of that.

Does having a hitch ball rated at 10k lbs change anything, or a reciever rated at 15k lbs...of course not. Common sense would agree the actual weight of the trailer is what matters. It's not what you know its what you can prove.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
To the same point having a trailer with a 4000lb gvwr doesn't prove it wasn't overloaded either. IMO the set of circumstances that would leave you open to such an issue are so small and narrowly defined it isnt worth so much focus. In your posts you are trying to use GVW and GVWR interchangeably. They are not, a sub $20 trip to the local cat scale will take care of all of that.

Does having a hitch ball rated at 10k lbs change anything, or a reciever rated at 15k lbs...of course not. Common sense would agree the actual weight of the trailer is what matters. It's not what you know its what you can prove.
As for GVW (actual current, loaded weight) and GVWR (maximum recommended/legal weight), I'm not using them interchangeably, though perhaps I can use them more clearly.

So, here's the problem...
If your trailer's GVWR is over the tow rating, you can be guaranteed that in the event of any major loss (whether monetary or life or both), that the insurance company and police will weigh everything.

A trip to the local CAT scale is great. And then again during the trip, after people have used the facilities, and the fresh tanks have been refilled. And so on. Most people don't do that. Not even once. Most people don't know what their GVW is.

Most importantly, most people can't afford lawyers to fight their own insurance company to get them to cover a claim where the insurance company is claiming that all the "evidence" (whether real, or estimated because half of the belongings are on the road) points to an overloaded trailer.

So, more specifically to some of the trailers in question (eg: mentioned in the towing thread, most recent trailer and others), once you add the favorite accessories, they're over weight, or very close to it, so as you put some sheets and food in them, they're over.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Maybe I have? Seems my phone autocorrect is randomly swapping the two?

I need to read over everything I wrote. Most of it was from my phone. ?
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
That all depends on how the trailer is weighed. Mine was weighed as delivered with all accessories including full propane and battery at 4100 lbs.
Totally agree with that. But when dry weight is for an unconfigured or un-accessorized model, I've seen too many people using that as a basis for choosing.

As an example, it's like the 1685 that's at or over weight with the most common accessories and a full water tank, but no bedding or food. That dry weight looks great until the stove, batteries, propane and tanks, microwave, etc, are put in.

The problem is that there are a few such discussions, where that's not being factored in. The 1685 is just the most recent. I started with the missing accessories, which is why I thought it was a bad choice. I mean who doesn't have batteries, propane tanks, a stove, microwave and an awning nowadays?

Picking something with a GVWR that's over 5,000 pounds isn't so much of a problem, but more of a risk of (a) proof and (b) getting it right.
 

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Weight limits, and being overweight, are actual regulations. Violating them are actual crimes.

Putting on oversized tires that meet or exceed manufacturers specs are not. Same goes with adding a lift.

But, THIS is about it being VERY difficult to keep the Lance 1685 under 5,000 pounds.
How one's insurance company will deny the claim is the tangent I'm walking away from in this thread.
Violating the law is not the same thing as being criminally negligent. You have to prove intent/indifference.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Your other posts should reflect this sentiment.
It does. It was reiterated by others explaining exactly what I meant.

But, in my opinion, as I stated in detail, it's not relevant to the Lance in that fashion. The Lance is ridiculously difficult to keep under weight.

One can't prove that a trailer that was delivered over weight is under weight. Even on my more modest first configuration, one will have a very hard time proving they didn't add 214 pounds of something to put it over weight. With the most common accessories I see on listings, it's at or over weight, with no blankets or pillows or food.

That discussion wasn't general, even though it kept tangenting there. It was about the Lance's suitability. For some people? Sure, they may get the base model and no accessories, no stove, no microwave. For most? It's a bad choice, in my opinion, simply because of the weights. But now we're tangenting here.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Violating the law is not the same thing as being criminally negligent. You have to prove intent/indifference.
I never said the person would be criminally negligent for the accident. Criminal negligence will be what any opposing attorneys work on proving when they sue, in the event of a big financial loss or an injury or a loss of life. Violating the law will be one of the factors involved in proving it. The clear directions in the Ascent manual will be another part. In the event of a trailer that's final configuration is overweight, it's a pretty easy indifference case.

And, quite frankly, in all of those cases, the caliber of the lawyers (and the potential awards) are a factor as well, sad as that is. I have a friend who's in a lawsuit right now, where the other side is expecting to win by outspending him. They'll lose, and lose the countersuit too, but, they haven't realized their tactic isn't going to work.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Wait, this?
"While states laws regarding towable RV’s and motorhomes vary, federal law applies country-wide. There are also manufacturer recommended standards that should not be ignored; failure to adhere to these recommendations is not only dangerous, but could increase the judgement or award in the event a lawsuit is filed against you. Negligent towing could also leave you open to criminal charges and your insurance claim being denied."

Points to be aware of:
  • On the Ascent, that means the trailer's Gross Trailer Weight must be 5,000 pounds or less, and it must not be filled over 5,000 pounds.
  • Can you prove that? If your trailer GVWR exceeds 5,000 pounds, it's not that easy to prove, unless you're traveling between weigh stations.
More Info:
It's not my statement. It's a quote from an actual lawyer. Follow this link:
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
That's a legal opinion not established case law.
It happens more often than one would think. I can't say more, other than that I worked for a DC Metro area law firm and currently run the claims system for an insurance company that underwrites its own policies and even underwrote for the big guys, such as Geico and their competitors.
 

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I had an interesting idea occur to me. There is nothing illegal about a company underrating a trailer's capacity. So why not ask the manufacturer to send you a sticker with a 5000lb gvwr. Problem solved.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
I had an interesting idea occur to me. There is nothing illegal about a company underrating a trailer's capacity. So why not ask the manufacturer to send you a sticker with a 5000lb gvwr. Problem solved.
Hmmm... it takes a bit to get a vehicle GVWR changed. The Federal considerations would of course be pretty consistent nationwide, but each state has their own requirements for changing a GVWR rating.

I had a van that was recertified at a new GVWR, and then as a new vehicle class, twice. It was an interesting experience, which required modifications and documentation and certification. The original manufacturer details had to remain along with the new vehicle class and weight plate. But, that's NY, and 30 years ago. I have no idea how it works now, much less in other states.
 

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I dont see that being a hindrance in changing a gvwr from 5500 to 5000lbs. Maybe the other way around.

But in my case if you think about it specifically as the trailer is configured, 500 lbs on the tongue and 5000 lbs on the trailer axles is the spec from subaru for towing. So 5500lbs gvwr for a trailer is in line with the towing spec as long as 500lbs is on the hitch.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
I wasn't saying it's a hindrance. It's probably very easy, or an absurd pain, depending on the state.

In NY, any GVWR change from the manufacturer GVWR requires a bunch of steps, inspections, weighing and certification. What I'd presume is that a little less running around is necessary nowadays in the computer age.

In other states, I don't know.

For instance, car manufacturers test prototypes and test vehicles in certain states because their testing, inspection and certification requirements are far easier than others.

Regardless, in NY, the insurance companies didn't care about the change in GVWR of my van (or any other vehicle), and it was over a ton change in GVWR. They just wanted the number the Department of Motor Vehicles certified the current vehicle as. They would not use any other number.
 
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