You count on your car insurance to cover you in a pinch, but does car insurance cover towing? The answer to that can be complicated. Whether or not towing is covered can depend on the reason you need the tow and what type of coverage you have. The circumstances surrounding your tow determine whether or not you have to pay for the tow up front, and in many cases even if you have coverage it is on a reimbursement basis.
In an Accident
If you have collision coverage, your tow to the repair shop after a car accident will be covered by your auto insurance if you were at fault. If you were not at fault, the other driver’s car insurance is responsible for paying your tow and repair bills associated with the accident. If the other driver is uninsured, your tow and repair will be covered by your insurance if you have uninsured motorist coverage.
In a Flood or Other Natural Disaster
If your vehicle is in a flood or other natural disaster, your tow to the repair shop may be covered by your car insurance if you have comprehensive coverage. This type of coverage is designed to protect you against damages for incidents that are not a car accident, but are not in your control. Flooding, storm damage, and fire are the usual culprits for comprehensive coverage to take effect.
When Your Vehicle Breaks Down
Typical car insurance does not cover towing if your vehicle breaks down on the side of the road. Even if you have full coverage auto insurance, towing in these instances may not be covered. However, your car insurance company likely offers add on coverage for roadside assistance or towing and labor coverage. Towing and labor coverage, also called roadside assistance, will usually cover you for a tow to a repair shop, as well as things like having someone bring you gas if you run out, or changing a tire for you if you have a flat or blowout.
How the Tow Is Paid For
If you have the right type of coverage to get your tow covered by insurance, you will still likely have to pay for the tow up front. Especially in instances of roadside assistance or a break down, you will have to pay for the tow out of pocket. You will then file a claim with your insurance company, and they will then reimburse you in the amount of the tow bill.
If your car is in an accident and the tow company is affiliated with the repair shop that your car is being taken to, you may not have to pay for the tow up front. In these instances the tow may be added onto the repair bill after your car is fixed. Either your insurance or the insurance of the other driver will pay the repair and tow bill once the claim has been processed.
If you do have to pay for the tow up front after an auto accident, how you get reimbursed may vary. If the accident was your fault, the amount you paid for the tow will be deducted from the deductible that you have to pay toward the insurance claim. If the other driver was at fault, you will need to report the amount of the tow bill to their insurance company so that you can be reimbursed for the tow along with the repairs.
Getting Towing and Labor Coverage
If your car insurance does not offer towing and labor coverage or roadside assistance, you have other options to get this coverage. There are some companies that offer roadside assistance coverage specifically, such as AAA Auto. These companies specialize in roadside assistance and towing coverage that will protect you in any case where you need a tow.
You may also have roadside assistance and towing and labor coverage through your auto loan lender or the car manufacturer. If you have purchased the car new from a dealer, chances are you have towing coverage and roadside assistance during the warranty period of your vehicle. In these cases, if you contact the correct roadside assistance number you will not have to pay for the tow up front, and a tow company will be contacted directly by the roadside assistance representative.
It is important to remember that even with these specialized companies offering roadside assistance and towing, your up-front costs will likely come out of your pocket. Usually you will have to pay for the tow up front, and then file a claim with the roadside assistance coverage company to get reimbursed. It is a good idea to always have some money in savings in case incidents like this arise. The coverage will not do you any good if you can’t pay up front for the services.