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At the end of 2021, a four-year “Tow Zone” pilot project began in Ontario to clean up the tow truck industry by flushing out the predatory tow truckers camped out on the side of the highway waiting for “business.”

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.

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Does my insurance cover all towing and repair costs?

If you’re at fault and you only opted for basic insurance, you do. If you opted for collision coverage, your insurance covers you even if you’re at fault. Keep in mind that collision coverage does not cover falling objects hitting your car.

Review your insurance policy carefully and speak to your insurance provider if you’re uncertain about terms and conditions, as your insurer may have a list of approved repair shops. In other words, if your tow truck operator refers you to a repair shop that’s not on the list, you’re looking at a massive bill that must be paid out of pocket.

Collisions as an Onlia Insurance customer

If you get into an accident and have to report a claim, you can reach us at 1-844-472-7901 any time of day or night.

As for a rental car, if reports are required, you can add an Enhanced Rental Automobile Package to your policy, provided you also have Collision and Comprehensive coverage.

  • If your vehicle is getting fixed or replaced, you’ll get up to $2,500 to put towards a rental vehicle in the same class as your vehicle.
  • Your policy’s coverage extends to most cars you rent while travelling within Canada and the U.S.
Good luck out there. We’re here when you need us.

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