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UPDATED: Mar 13, 2020
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Being stranded to an accident or vehicle breakdown can be a major inconvenience. Knowing that your vehicle can be towed safely to your home or repair shop at any time provides peace of mind. Depending on the cause of your vehicle’s disablement and the coverage you carry on your auto insurance policy, your car insurance may cover the towing cost of your car. If your auto insurance won’t pay for towing in all situations, it may be worthwhile to purchase additional coverage or to join a roadside assistance program like AAA.
Most car insurance companies offer some sort of towing coverage. Different companies will handle this differently, however, so you should always check with your insurer to confirm exactly how towing is handled. Some companies are able to dispatch a tow truck to your vehicle no matter where it is and bring it to the nearest body shop. Other companies handle towing through reimbursement only. In these situations, you must pay for the towing yourself and submit the receipt to the insurance company. The company will usually have a dollar amount that they will pay, such as $50 and anything over this limit would not be reimbursed.
You must ask for towing coverage as it’s often not included in regular full coverage auto insurance
Whenever you purchase the coverage, be sure to ask what the limitations are and if it’s handled through reimbursement. If you are not able to purchase a roadside assistance coverage that can dispatch a tow truck to your location, it may be worthwhile to buy roadside assistance from another company.
Towing after a Car Accident
Even if you don’t have towing coverage on your auto insurance policy, your vehicle can still be towed to a repair shop if it’s involved in a collision or other type of covered accident. In this case, the towing is covered under the coverage that would apply to repairing your vehicle. For example, if you are hit by another person’s car and your car is no longer operable as a result, the towing charge would be paid under your collision coverage. If your vehicle is caught in a flood or damaged through another sort of natural disaster, the towing would be paid under comprehensive coverage.
Towing expenses paid under collision or comprehensive coverage are usually handled through reimbursement. They do count toward your deductible, however, so if you pay $100 for a tow truck, that amount will be subtracted from what you owe for your repairs. Many times a body shop will tow the car from the scene of an accident without charging at the time; the towing bill is then added to the total repair cost of your vehicle.
Other Types of Towing Coverage
If your auto insurance company does not pay for towing, you may be able to obtain roadside assistance inexpensively through another company. You might enroll in a motor club like AAA, for example, and pay a low monthly fee for the service. In addition to towing expenses, motor clubs pay for other types of emergency assistance such as changing tires or bringing you gas if you run out.
Some mobile phone companies even offer a roadside assistance program through your phone plan. You can add the coverage to your regular phone bill for a few dollars a month. There will usually be a limit of how many times you can use the service within a certain time frame.
If your regular auto insurance does not have a roadside assistance program, it may be worthwhile to buy coverage through another type of company. Be sure to check with your insurance first, though, so that you don’t buy unnecessary roadside assistance coverage if those services are already offered on your auto policy.
Wherever you decide to obtain your roadside assistance coverage from, you should always keep the phone number for the service in your mobile phone so that you can dial it at any time. It’s also a good idea to print off your membership card and keep it in your vehicle in case you need to call from another phone. By carrying roadside assistance coverage, you can be assured that you can always get your vehicle to safety any time it breaks down or is involved in an auto accident.