Are old trailers going to be banned?
An interesting query came-up on our technical helpline, where the owner of a home-made (but legal and roadworthy) trailer was refused insurance cover by his broker. The reason stated was that the trailer was not Type Approved (because it was made prior to 2012) and did not possess a chassis number, which was not legally required. The GEM member was concerned that he may have to scrap a perfectly usable trailer and asked us to intervene.
The Insurance Angle
When contacted, the ABI (Association of British Insurers) could not provide a definitive answer about why insurance cover was being rejected and, potentially, if older trailers are going to be banned. Helpfully, they passed our query to Thatcham Research, which stated that, while it sits outside of their scope, it is a question of legality and liability and have suggested that lawyers working in the insurance industry (motor insurance specifically) will be the best people to answer.
The DVSA’s response
Thankfully, the DVSA had already confirmed that there is no need to worry; older non-type approved trailers are not about to be banned. Yet, should you have a problem, the following information from one of the DVSA’s experts (dated June 2019) should be useful to anyone concerned about the legal and technical requirements for older trailers:
There was no Whole Vehicle Type Approval for trailers, prior to the staged introduction dates of 29 October 2012 for complete and incomplete trailers, 29 October 2013 for completed trailers and 29 October 2014 for special purpose trailers. There is, of course, national ‘in use’ legislation such as The Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations 1986 (as amended) and The Road Vehicles Lighting Regulations 1989 (as amended). There have been component and system type approval requirements produced by both the UN and EU for many years and these are often incorporated in the previously mentioned Statutory Instruments. O3 and O4 <category> trailers are also subject to annual roadworthiness testing.
To the best of my knowledge, there are no restrictions on the use of pre-approval trailers other than the owners’ responsibility to maintain them in a roadworthy condition.
Short of showing the trailer physically to the insurer I don’t believe there is anything that an owner can provide. Some pre-approval trailers may be ‘home built’ (to varying degrees of competency). It might be worth contacting the National Trailer & Towing Association https://www.ntta.co.uk/ for further advice in this area.
There is no requirement for a trailer already in use to be submitted for retrospective type approval. Owners can access the current Individual Vehicle Approval (IVA) standards in the relevant inspection manual https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/iva-manual-for-categories-01-02-03-and-04-trailers
The story has a happy ending, in that the member managed to secure insurance cover through an alternative broker.