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On The Road

Know Your Tow Truck Rights

New government regulations have changed the landscape of the towing and storage industry.

by Team Onlia
Drivers in Ontario have a history of obstacles to face when they need a tow; including unclear pricing, lack of options on where to send their vehicle, and more. Now, the government is making changes to the towing and storage industry to help protect drivers.

What do these changes mean for you? Keep reading for all the information you need.

New year, new regulations: What Ontario drivers need to know

As a courtesy to Ontarians, the provincial government revised regulations that standardize its approach to the towing industry. They also ensure that all consumers across the province share the same rights when it comes to towing services.

Drivers will have more control over:

  • Choice of towing company and destination: Drivers now have the right to decide who tows their vehicle and where it is towed. The autonomy empowers motorists to make decisions aligned with their needs.
  • Transparent documentation: Drivers are entitled to receive and review the Consent to Tow form and Maximum Rate Schedule. Notably, the towing company cannot alter the form and its recommended not sign if it appears blank. This ensures full transparency in the towing process.
  • Flexible payment options: The regulations grant drivers the flexibility to choose their preferred payment method. Whether it’s credit, debit or contactless payment through phone, drivers have the freedom to decide. Additionally, they should receive an itemized invoice before making any payments, ensuring fair billing practices.
  • Insurance representation: Auto insurance representatives can now engage directly with towing and storage operators to expedite the claims process. This includes the right to consent to towing services, access vehicle and request their release. This streamlined interaction aims to enhance efficiency and support drivers during stressful times.
  • Verification of tow operator: Drivers can ask to see their tow operator’s name and certificate number. This ensures further transparency and allows drivers to verify the certification of the tow truck driver before accepting the tow.

Code of Conduct for towing and reporting violations

In tandem with the regulations, the government has established a Code of Conduct. This code sets standards for towing and storage operators, emphasizing professionalism, courtesy, fairness, customer safety and transparency. 

To expand on that, the new regulations require tow operators, tow truck drivers and vehicle storage operators need to:

  1. Act with professionalism, integrity, courtesy, good faith and fairness in all interactions with the public and fellow professionals
  2. Meet the standards of learning, competence and conduct that reflect the high-quality services provided, and ensure tasks taken are within their expertise.
  3. Prioritize public safety above all else, recognizing the responsibility to creating a secure environment.
  4. Comply with all applicable laws where services are offered.
  5. Honestly and accurately represent services, ensuring transparency and trustworthiness in all relations.
  6. Adhere to the Code of Conduct and notify the Director of any actions or omissions that they believe are contrary to the code.

Drivers can anticipate a more secure and transparent towing experience, backed by their enhanced rights and the government’s move to foster ethical practices in the industry.

Should drivers believe a tow truck driver has violated these regulations, an anonymous reporting service is available.

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Designated towing zones

Designated towing zones are still in affect during with the new regulations. They were originally created in 2021. They are designated areas on Highways 401, 427, 409, 400, as well as the Queen Elizabeth Way (QEW) that are “towing restrictive zones”. Only authorized tow truck drivers are allowed to be in these designated areas.

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.

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.

Need a tow? Call Onlia 

If you find yourself in a collision and need to report a claim, our 24/7 line is ready to assist you at 1-844-472-7901. For added convenience, you can also submit a claim through Onlia.ca or our Onlia Insurance app. 

However, please not that if you require a tow, or need to report claims involving injuries, it’s essential to call us directly. Your safety is our priority and we’re here for you whenever you need assistance.

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