If you’re involved in a collision that causes enough damage to require towing services, it’s logical to wonder who pays the tow truck operator. There are circumstances where either your car insurance or the other driver’s insurance will cover the cost, but it may not be immediately apparent whose. Also, not all car insurance coverage is the same, so some policies may not have a provision for towing coverage.

The Other Driver is at Fault

Most people know that, in the aftermath of an accident without serious injury, it’s customary to swap insurance and ownership information with the other driver. At this point, police may not have assigned fault to the accident, which has an impact on which insurance company will pay towing charges. If the other driver is at fault, you need that information so that towing charges can be assigned to the other driver’s insurer.

Pro Tip: Use the camera on your cell phone to photograph ownership and insurance slips from the other driver. Make sure the images are legible.

You are at Fault

If you are at fault in an accident, the insurance company will only pay for the tow if you have coverage that includes collision or all perils insurance. If you opt for only the coverage required by the province to register your vehicle, you will ultimately be responsible for the cost of the tow. Collision coverage usually does cover towing, so in that case your insurance company will pay.

After an Accident

after car accident

In the age of smart phones, contacting your insurance company after an accident is the best bet, particularly in Ontario, where there are many tow truck operations that skirt the edge of the law. Whether you have towing coverage or not, your insurer can provide you with the name and number of reputable towing services.

If you have roadside assistance coverage, you can find out first from your insurer if towing is covered under your policy. If it’s not, you can check with your roadside assistance provider to see if after-accident towing is included in your membership. The provider may tow your car as long as there is not insurance claims coverage for towing.

Towing Fraud Prevention Tips

  • Beware of towing operators who arrive on the scene without being called
  • A tow truck operator who suggests a repair shop before being asked is probably getting inflated kickbacks from the shop
  • You should not be asked to pay for towing services at the accident scene
  • Don’t allow a driver to hook up your car without approval from your insurance company