Before your car breaks down, be aware of the most common tow truck scams used on the road by amateurs. Learn how to avoid an expensive, frustrating situation.
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Sometimes after a serious accident that renders your vehicle immobile, you’ll have to hire a tow truck to move it from the scene and store it in a lot until the damages can be examined by your insurance company. And while this seems simply enough, there are many tricks you must be aware of to avoid being scammed by a bandit tow company. Towing and storage fees can be expensive enough with an honest company, but it can cost a fortune when you car is being held hostage by a fraudulent business.
The Property Casualty Insurers Association of America (PCI) reports that the average cost of towing and storage for a wrecked vehicle should be around $150. While this figure seems reasonable the PCI has revealed that bogus towing and storage companies kick this average to about $412 per vehicle. This illegal practice costs consumers and auto insurance companies $570 million a year. For example, a woman in Chicago was charged $900 to have her vehicle towed and then $100 a day in storage after a minor accident. When she attempted to get her car out of storage, the company wouldn’t surrender her vehicle until they received a cash payment from her. While the majority or towing and storage companies run honest businesses, the insurance industry advises car owners to be cautious of those they haven’t done business with before in order to avoid being scammed.
Local and state governments have been federally blocked from setting a standard fee for consensual towing and storage. Consensual tows consist of vehicles taken from accidents while non-consensual tows are regulated and consist of vehicles taken for parking illegally, etc. Without set regulations statewide, fraudulent businesses have a lot of wiggle room to increase prices. And you’d be wrong to think the at-fault insurance will cover this expense for you. While the provider will cover the cost of repairs for your car, they can flat out refuse to pay the storage cost. They’ll argue that you should’ve gotten the car out of storage within a reasonable amount of time. However, getting your vehicle out of a fraudulent storage facility can be impossible.
On average it can take anywhere from ten to fourteen business days to receive a police report detailing a car accident. This process can take even longer depending on how quickly the at-fault driver’s’ insurance company cooperates and you’re reimbursed. The report and thus payment can take even longer if there’s a disagreement between the drivers involved as to who is truly at fault. During these delays, your wrecked vehicle has been towed and is sitting in a storage lot charging up a tab.
Your insurance carrier is your best defense against bandit towing companies, so make sure you have a provider you can trust and afford. Get quotes and read reviews for auto insurance companies from an online comparison site, like Insurify.com. Insurify allows you to customize, build, and purchase a policy online in minutes so you can be prepared for whatever you encounter on the road.