Towing-Service Advisory Issued by NY Car Insurance Regulators

Car being towed out of snowTo help prepare New York drivers for the possibility of getting stranded due to foul weather conditions, the state’s top insurance regulator issued an advisory earlier this week with tips for dealing with tow-truck companies.

The advisory comes after reports in recent years about the rise of “rogue” towing practices, in which tow-truck operators monitor police scanners and arrive unsolicited at accident scenes. These operators then urge the owners of damaged cars to sign waivers allowing for unnecessary storage fees before towing their vehicles.

While the regulators acknowledge that the vast majority of operators are reputable and refrain from engaging in these practices, they also encourage drivers in the state to take a few precautions before agreeing to having their cars towed.

The New York Department of Insurance urges motorists to have their cars towed to a repair shop of their choice or to at least get detailed information about location and storage fees if they’re too far from home and have to use a repair shop suggested by a tow-truck operator. Consumers are also advised to ask up front about towing charges, to ask for and double check any receipts, to review the tow-truck driver’s damage report and to not give policy information to the tow-truck operator.

A related campaign, called “Know Before You Tow,” was launched earlier this month by the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB).

Many car insurance companies offer roadside service as an add-on to policies, and the NICB encourages drivers to review their coverage annually in order to understand how their insurers will act with regard to towing, storage and repairs.

Insurers often agree to pay only for towing and storage fees that are considered reasonable.

In 2007, the attorney general for the state of Illinois filed suit against a company that operated three tow-truck services for an alleged history of charging drivers in the state excessive fees for towing and storage.

According to a press release from the attorney general’s office, the instances that prompted the case involved the company’s allegedly charging drivers fees ranging between $340 and $1,650.

The NICB says that in Houston car owners have had to pay fees totaling more than $1,800 before being able to retrieve their cars.

About John Pirro
John Pirro is a licensed fire and casualty insurance agent specializing in various aspects of the auto insurance industry. He worked in the auto body repair industry before taking a reporting position at Online Auto Insurance News.

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