What to Ask Before You Have Your Car Towed

| May 9, 2012

calling for a tow truck

Need to have your car towed? First of all: bummer. Second, here’s what to keep in mind:

1. Before getting your car towed, call your auto insurance company. Often, they’ll reimburse you for the cost of a tow, but they’ll have certain parameters you need to follow.

  • For example, if you’re getting your car towed to a mechanic, they may only reimburse you for towing within a 5 mile radius. Or they may not reimburse you if the tow truck passes a mechanic on the way to deliver your car to a different mechanic. Find out what the insurance company’s rules are and what you need to do to get reimbursed.

2. Different towing companies use different pricing systems. Some charge a flat rate; however, it’s doubtful that it will remain flat if your car is towed a long distance. Other towing companies have an initial price and then a rate per mile.

  • For example, in Los Angeles, one tow company stated that their rate for a two-mile tow was $90. Another company said they would tow for $60, plus an additional $6 per mile with a minimum of 5 miles, which brought the cost up to the competitor’s price of $90.

3. When talking to the towing company about the price, be specific about the type of difficulty you’re having with your car — it may influence the cost of the tow.

  • For example, if your tires won’t move, the company has to use a flatbed to move your car, which requires more work, and so, costs more. In Los Angeles, it’s not uncommon for a flatbed tow to cost $200-plus. Some companies may try to charge you for a flatbed tow when you don’t need one – and insurance companies will be resistant to reimburse for unneeded expenses. That said, flatbed tows are needed more than many realize — they aren’t just for totaled cars or vehicles with flat tires. In some car models, the tires are locked when there’s a problem with the ignition, so the car will require a flatbed to move it.

4. Some people tip towing operators, but it’s not as regular a practice as tipping your server at a restaurant.

5. Keep the receipt from your tow. Some insurance companies require the original before reimbursing.

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Category: Auto Repair, Autos

About the Author ()

As the Senior Editor of BeSmartLocal and Bridal Banter, Christine Landry blogs, Tweets, Stumbles, Facebooks and often turns nouns into verbs. She could be very, very Pinterested in you too.