After an accident, your vehicle may be towed at your discretion or the discretion of on-site police officers. Some factors that affect a police officer’s decision to tow your vehicle include the amount of danger your vehicle poses to others on the road, if your vehicle impedes the flow of traffic, or if your vehicle is a total loss.
How Will Towing Costs Be Covered?
If officers assign fault at the scene of the accident, the at-fault driver’s insurance is liable for all associated costs. However, in most cases determining fault can take upwards of several days.
If you have collision coverage, your insurance may cover these costs if fault has not been assigned. However, you will have to pay your deductible before coverage will begin.
Further, your own insurance may cover these costs if roadside assistance is included in your policy. Unlike collision coverage, roadside assistance provides tow truck coverage in scenarios that do not necessarily involve an auto accident.
Depending on the policy, your insurance may have you pay these costs upfront and later reimburse you. Check prior to an accident, what your insurance policy covers.
Remember, insurance companies will only pay for what they deem reasonable. If your car functions, you must limit the towing distance and the length of time the vehicle is stored. Failing to do so will leave you responsible for the remainder of the associated fees.
If you are at-fault and financially unable to remove your vehicle from the impound lot, notify your insurance immediately. In the case that your car is no longer operational, you must wait for the at-fault driver’s insurance to complete their investigation of your vehicle. After the investigation is complete, you may receive compensation for your vehicle in exchange for the title of your car.
How Do I Locate My Vehicle After It Has Been Towed?
If police are on the scene of your accident, they may call a tow truck for you. If you opt to use the company called by the police, they should provide a business card for your convenience. However, the choice of tow company is ultimately yours. Additionally, you may choose the destination of the tow truck. Whether that be a mechanic, of your choice, or a salvage yard.
However, if you do not know where your vehicle was towed after an accident, there are several methods to locate your vehicle. You can visit your city’s towed vehicle locator website. Using this method you will have to be able to provide the VIN number and license plate of your vehicle. Or you can call your city’s information hotline. In this instance, you will need to provide your name, the make model and year of your vehicle, your insurance policy, and in some cases your license number. If your city does not have an information line you may also call your local police department.
How Long Should I Leave My Car In The Salvage Yard?
The at-fault driver’s insurance will conduct an investigation to verify the damage resulted from an accident involving their insured. This investigation protects the insurance company from fraudulent claims. If your vehicle is operational, you should retrieve it as soon as the investigation is completed.
What If My Car Is Totaled And Goes To An Salvage Yard?
Regardless of your vehicle status, you should not move your car until the other driver’s insurance has assessed the damage. Upon completion of the investigation, you will receive a settlement check in exchange for your vehicle’s title.
Further, you may want to look into getting a rental car. The at-fault driver’s insurance may cover the cost of a rental car depending on their policy. In some cases, you may have to pay this cost upfront and request reimbursement through a settlement demand packet; or if you were at fault, request compensation from your own insurance.
Beware of Towing Scams
After an accident, be wary of unsolicited truck drivers, as the companies they represent may charge you exorbitant prices.
When arranging towing services, obtain the driver’s contact information, their company affiliation and contact information, and the truck license plate.
You Should Never Give Your Insurance Information to the Tow Truck Driver.
Finally, some companies will attempt to delay you in claiming your belongings from your vehicle. After a certain period of time, your possessions are forfeit and subject to the employees of the tow company.
You should only deal with towing companies that you trust, or that were recommended by your insurance or the police.
What if the At-fault Driver is Uninsured/Underinsured?
If the at-fault driver does not have insurance or adequate insurance coverage, they are still liable for any damages. If the at-fault driver does not have enough insurance coverage or does not possess any insurance, they are still liable. However, you may make a claim against your own insurance if you have underinsured/uninsured motorist coverage.
What if I Can’t Pay The Towing Or Storage Fees?
You should get in contact with your insurance and inform them of your vehicle’s impounded status. Unfortunately, towing companies legally cannot release your vehicle until all associated fees have been paid. After several weeks, an “unclaimed” vehicle may go to auction. However, if you were not at-fault, the driver at-fault or their insurance will have a responsibility to cover these costs. If these costs are still unpaid, you may want to seek the help of an attorney.