What are chasers?In the tow truck industry, chasers are tow truck drivers who race to car crash scenes to win business from motorists — and sometimes convince motorists that a perfectly drivable car must be towed.
One common chaser tactic is the work order bait and switch, where you’re asked to sign standard forms that are actually work orders. Your car is then towed to a shop and held hostage until you pay for the services you don’t re-member authorizing. And if you can’t pay, or your insurer refuses to pay, the repair shop has the right to sell your vehicle.
Most cities have laws forbidding tow trucks from parking within a few hundred metres of a collision. In some cases, it’s illegal for a tow truck driver to approach a motorist at the scene of a crash unless they’ve been called by one of the drivers or the police.
What’s new?As of December 13, 2021, areas of Highways 401, 427, 409, 400, as well as the Queen Elizabeth Way (QEW) have been designated “towing restrictive zones” where non-authorized drivers are not allowed to be.
Under the new law, authorized towing companies in those zones must meet a number of standards, including conspicuous fee schedules, itemized invoices and other safety/ethical measures.
What are your rights when getting a tow?
The two most common concerns when dealing with a tow truck driver are (a) being overcharged and (b) not being able to pay for it with insurance.
To help Ontario drivers, CAA published a Towing Bill of Rights as a quick reference guide for motorists.
1. You can choose who tows your vehicle unless otherwise directed by police.
2. You must sign a permission form before a tow truck begins towing unless you hold an auto club membership.
3. You don’t have to pay until you receive an itemized invoice.
4. Your towing company cannot charge more than 10% above the quote.
5. You can pay by credit card.
6. You can access personal items in your vehicle during business hours.
7. Your tow truck operator must inform you where they’ll be taking your vehicle.
8. Your tow truck operator must disclose if they’re receiving a referral fee from wherever they’re towing your car.