Sometimes no matter how hard you try, accidents do happen. When an accident does happen it can seem like everything is happening all at once. It’s understandable that you’re stressed out, the adrenaline is flowing, and you got a lot you need to do in a short amount of time now. What’s the most immediate part of the emergencies or taking care of you need to figure out what to do with your vehicle. Do you have to get it towed whether you want to or not? How do you know if it’s a reliable tow truck company or you’re about to get scammed? These are great questions. To get answers to them keep reading to find out what you need to know when it comes to getting a tow in Ontario.

Your Rights When Getting a Tow

Ever since January 1st 2017 the consumer protection act has given the supplemental requirements for all Towing and storage providers in Ontario to help protect drivers such as yourself. You can read more about it here however to make your life easier here’s a short list of the major takeaways.

A Tow truck driver MUST do the following:

  • Before Towing or storing your vehicle you must give permission to the tow truck driver or someone acting on behalf of the owner of the vehicle.
  • Any pertinent information such as rates must be fully disclosed. This would include information such as the tow truck providers name and phone number and place of business.
  • Accept multiple forms of payments and not insist on cash payments only. Note – credit card payments help cover you in the event of dispute because they create a paper trail.
  • Fully inform you of where your vehicle will be towed or stored
  • Provide full access to your vehicle while it is in storage so you can remove any personal belongings and no additional charge during normal business hours
  • Provide a invoice to you that list all services provided and any costs before payment is rendered
  • Fully disclose whether they are getting a financial incentive for towing your vehicle to a garage mechanic.

Does My Car Actually NEED To Be Towed?

Your car or truck may not necessarily need to be towed after you’ve been involved in some kind of accident or fender bender. If it can’t be driven safely you may need to get a tow truck like it or not. 

In the event that your vehicle needs to be towed you want to contact a reliable towing business. Don’t feel like you have to use the first service that shows up. It is not uncommon to have tow trucks approach you within minutes after some kind of collision or pulling over at the side of the road especially in a busy location. This practice is called ‘chasers’. Though this almost immediate help may at first seem like a godsend you should be wary. In some municipalities there are regulations that prevent tow truck drivers from even approaching you In this unsolicited way at the scene of an accident. If you’re not sure what to do or who to call a reliable resource you can count on is your insurance provider. They might be able to point you to a reliable tow truck service in your area.

Once a tow truck driver has arrived it’s imperative that you carefully read all documents before signing them. This way you won’t be caught off-guard by signing something you’ll regret later. Be sure to stay aware of the towing process from start to finish even if the driver is sure as you that they’ll take care of everything and you don’t need to think about it. This is your vehicle and you will be financially responsible at the end of the day so stay in the loop.  If you prefer you can always snap a quick picture once your vehicle is on the tow truck. This can give you real peace of mind knowing that you have photo evidence later if there are services claimed to have been rendered on your bill that you did not receive (such as the use of a dolly or being winched to get on the tow truck.)

Where Should I Get My Car Towed?

It is your legal right to choose where your vehicle is towed. Most people prefer to have their vehicle brought to a trusted mechanic or repair shop. However this isn’t always practical or feasible if you’re a distance from home. In some jurisdictions you may be required to take your vehicle to the nearest Collision Reporting Center if you’ve been involved in an accident. 

If you’re not sure what to do or where to go in terms of repair shop you can ask the tow truck driver to bring your vehicle home. This way you can make some phone calls from the comfort of your home with a clear mind and make decisions on where to move your vehicle at that point. Please note, tow truck drivers may suggest a body shop or mechanic to you. Most tow truck drivers are honest business people, however it you haven’t asked for them specifically to make this recommendation they may in fact be breaking a local by law.

Most insurance companies have certified vendors that they have chosen because of their excellent quality and good reviews. Sometimes if you go with a recommended repair shop or mechanic from your insurance company you might get a guarantee on your future Insurance claim. You will have to check with your insurance provider to see what’s included in your package. It doesn’t mean you have to go with your insurance recommended service provider but there might be some pros in it for you.

Since you are the registered owner of your vehicle it is your legal right to know where your car or truck is being taken and who will be doing that service of transporting it. Regardless of where your vehicle is going it’s very important that you get all the pertinent information (such as the name of the location and all of their contact information). This is so you don’t experience any unnecessary delays when your insurance claim is being settled. It’s also advisable to inquire about any storage fees before hands and make sure this would be covered by your insurance so you don’t get additional and unexpected expenses.

How Much Can a Tow Truck Charge For a Tow?

Depending on where you live there may be limits as to how much the tow truck can charge for their services. The maximum may be set out in your local bylaws. To be sure what the regulations and limitations are in your area get in touch with a local non-emergency helpline and find out what is available to you. Beyond the local limitations on fees, your insurance company may include coverage for a tow if you have Collision or certain types of coverage in your automobile policy. 

Knowing what to do and what to expect when you find yourself in a collision of some kind or otherwise at the side of the road and needing to call a tow truck can help relieve some of the overwhelming emotions that make it hard to think and make decisions. It’s important to be informed in advance of a crisis so that you protect yourself from being scammed or otherwise paying for something you just didn’t need. Hopefully you won’t ever need to call a tow truck. However if you do, keeping all of these tips and mind will help things go as smoothly as possible and get you back on the road ASAP.