If you’ve ever been stranded on a highway or involved in an automobile collision, there is a strong likelihood that the first person to arrive at the scene to offer assistance was a tow-truck operator.

Tow-truck operators provide an essential service on our roadways, and — for the most part — they operate with honesty and integrity. Their work is demanding, competitive and necessary.

Over the years, I’ve known of tow-truck operators offering assistance to motorists, whether it be stopping to fix a flat tire, providing lockout services, recommending a collision repair facility, and, of course, providing towing services.

However, it has been my experience that there have been instances where motorists have wound up paying more than they should have, for basic towing and storage services, and for repair work.

In some instances, tow-truck operators persuade motorists to sign a waiver or consent form that allows a vehicle to be towed to a specific repair shop that pays the tow operator a referral fee.

In other cases, motorists have had their vehicles towed to a storage facility (not of their choosing) and were charged thousands of dollars to have their vehicle released. (One motorist was recently charged a $500 towing fee for transporting their vehicle only a few kilometres.)

Part of the problem is that until now, there have been no province-wide rules governing the towing industry. There are more than 400 municipalities and 3,000 tow-truck drivers in Ontario, and only 16 jurisdictions have bylaws that licence the towing industry.

In an effort to make towing services and vehicle-storage services more transparent, the Ontario government recently introduced new requirements to strengthen consumer protection. These new rules came into effect on Jan. 1, 2017.

According to an Ontario government website, these new requirements will ensure the tow and storage providers:

  • Have permission from the consumer or someone acting on their behalf before towing or storing a vehicle;
  • Publicly disclose rates and other information, such as the provider’s name and telephone number on tow trucks as well as in places of business;
  • Accept credit-card payments from consumers (and not insist on cash only);
  • Notify consumers where their vehicle will be towed;
  • Allow consumers to access their towed vehicles to remove personal property at no charge between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. on all business days;
  • Give consumers an itemized invoice listing the services provided and costs before receiving payment;
  • Disclose if they are getting a financial incentive for towing a vehicle to a particular vehicle storage facility or repair shop.

For more information about the new towing rules, visit: https://tinyurl.com/hr46mrg.

While these new rules will help motorists to make better decisions after a collision or a breakdown, motorists should still be prepared.

That means knowing your lawful rights and being prepared to decide what to do before a collision occurs. If a mechanical breakdown or a collision renders your vehicle inoperable, your first calls should be to your local new car dealer and roadside assistance provider (if you have one).

Roadside assistance will tow your vehicle to your franchised dealer, or to the closest dealer representing your make of car, if you are far from home. If you lack roadside coverage, ensure that the tow driver understands your wishes.

Your new car dealer is trained and equipped to repair your vehicle properly with genuine replacement parts, matching paint, using the necessary tools and repair procedures, etc. This will ensure that your vehicle continues to meet factory specifications, perform the way it did before the accident, and maintain its warranty coverage.

Remember: There is no place like home for your vehicle!

Make sure your vehicle is covered for all accidents, and find a competitive rate for high risk insurance too. Contact us at 2nd Chance Auto Insurance for a free instant online quote today!

Source: The Star