NICB: Check with Auto Insurance Co. Before Getting a Tow

Car getting towed out of snowy ditchThe National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) has launched a new campaign aimed at spreading awareness of what has come to be known as “predatory” or “rogue” practices used by tow-truck companies.

According to the NICB, a significant number of tow-truck companies around the nation are still taking advantage of drivers who have been involved in accidents or vehicle breakdowns despite state and local regulation implemented to combat such practices.

The practices in question typically consist of unsolicited tow-truck drivers responding to accidents and prompting the owner of the inoperable vehicle to sign off on the costs related to a tow. These costs often turn out to be excessive, ranging in the hundreds or even thousands of dollars.

These costs often end up hurting the auto owners directly, since they have signed a document saying that they will pay the fees resulting from their tow and since insurance policies that cover towing fees will generally only cover them up to what is considered a reasonable amount.

In 2007 the Illinois attorney general filed a lawsuit against three towing companies operating in the state, seeking to fine each company at least $50,000 for defrauding customers.

In an instance cited by the attorney general, one tow truck company allegedly took the car of a consumer who had been hospitalized after a car accident to its storage facility rather than to her home as she had requested verbally.

When she got out of the hospital and went to retrieve the vehicle, the towing company allegedly asked for $530 for storage fees. Of that $530, the insurance policy only covered $195.

The Illinois attorney general’s office said the excessive fines in the instances that prompted the case ranged between $340 and $1,650.

In order to avoid situations like this, the NICB is recommending that drivers not use the services of any tow-truck drivers who were called to the scene neither by the police nor by the motorists themselves. In addition, consumers may want to check their policies or with an agent to determine whether and which types of tow fees are covered under a policy.

About Ben Zitney
Benjamin Zitney has been covering the auto insurance industry for the past 2.5 years. Before coming to Online Auto Insurance News, he produced an extensive company history of the 30-year-old California Joint Powers Insurance Authority and worked at the Cal State Long Beach Daily Forty-Niner as a reporter, copy editor and news editor.

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