Which Tow Truck Company Should You Hire?
If you have been in an accident and must have your vehicle towed, beware. We don’t want to paint every tow truck company with the same brush; however, there are several scams working in Ontario involving tow truck operators, repair shops, and storage facilities that you should know about. It’s always best to stick with reputable tow truck companies.
A tow truck driver may be paid a referral fee by a vehicle repair or body shop to have damaged vehicles towed there. These types of tow truck drivers are known in the industry as “chasers.” A tow truck driver may be breaking a municipal bylaw by recommending a repair shop without being asked. To recover these referral fees, tow truck drivers and vehicle repair or body shops may “pad” their bills. In the end, you and other policyholders end up paying. Many “chasers” are owned or controlled by vehicle repair shops. Insurance companies may or may not do business with these shops. If your vehicle is towed to a repair shop and you later choose to have it towed to a different shop, you may still be required to pay the original repair shop for the towing service, storage, and possibly other administrative fees. These fees can add up to hundreds or even thousands of dollars, and your insurer may not cover these fees. If you or your insurance company refuse to pay them, the Repair and Storage Liens Act permits the vehicle repair shop to sell your vehicle to cover the fees.
There are measures in place to protect drivers, but the best way to make sure you are safe from these scams is to know your rights.
Ontario has many requirements under the Consumer Protection Act, Highway Traffic Act, and the Repair and Storage Liens Act to increase consumer protection and road safety in the towing and vehicle storage sectors.
Tow Truck Requirements :
– Get permission from a consumer or someone acting on behalf of the consumer (e.g., in the event a consumer has been removed from the scene of an accident) before providing or charging for towing and storage services.
– Record the name and contact information of the consumer or the person giving the authorization, along with the date and time of authorization.
– Disclose certain information, in writing, such as the provider’s business name, contact information, and address where the vehicle will be towed.
– Make a current statement of rates available at all business premises, on a website (if one is maintained) in a form that can be reproduced and give a copy to any person upon request.
– Provide an itemized invoice, listing services provided, the cost for each service and the total cost before demanding or receiving payment.
– Accept credit card payments from consumers (and not insist on cash only).
– Provide a consumer (or someone acting on their behalf) with access to the towed vehicle, at no charge, so that they may remove personal property between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. on business days.
– Prohibit tow and storage providers from recommending repair and storage facilities, legal service providers, or health care service providers, unless a consumer or a person acting on their behalf specifically asks, or the provider offers to make a recommendation and that person agrees.
– Disclose to a consumer whether the provider is getting a financial reward or incentive for towing a vehicle to a particular storage or repair shop.
– Establish minimum insurance coverage including general liability insurance of $2 million, customer vehicle insurance of $100,000, and $50,000 cargo insurance.
– Maintain authorization and disclosure records, invoices, copies of insurance policy, and statements of rates for three years.
If you have any questions, feel free to contact our personal injury lawyers and we would be happy to help.