A car accident can happen anytime and for most motorists, it can be very overwhelming and stressful. Tow truck drivers are usually the first to respond to an accident scene and provide help if needed to the injured and can help direct traffic.
In most cases, they could even assist in helping a stressed-out motorist tow away their car. But how might this affect your insurance policy?
Motorist should never be forced by anyone to make ill-considered decisions after an accident. As a motorist, you have the right to choose who can assist you regarding towing your car away and most insurance providers offer towing services. It could be detrimental to not use the relevant authorised tow truck service when it comes to claiming back from your insurance. It is always good to use an accredited towing company.1
The South African Towing and Recovery Association (SATRA) and United Towing Association of South Africa (UTASA) have noted that the towing industry needs to be more regulated. 1 At the moment, anybody can buy a one-tonne truck and start operating as a towing service. 1
The National Road Traffic Act 93 of 1996 stipulates in Section 61(3) that “…no person shall remove a vehicle involved in an accident, except for the purpose of sufficiently allowing the passage of traffic, without the permission of the owner, driver or operator of such vehicle or a person who may lawfully take possession of such a vehicle.” 1
Tips on how to deal with tow truck drivers1
- Always use the service of a SATRA or UTASA member at an accident scene. These members are contractually bound by an enforceable code of conduct, which protects you from being charged above the market rates.
- In the case where your car is insured, rather contact your insurance provider to help you follow the correct procedures. Always make sure to have this information available to you.
- Check with your insurer if your policy includes a towing service. Call that emergency towing company if you were to be in an accident.
- In most cases when buying a new car, you may have an additional roadside assistance service provider. Make sure to check with your insurance provider that you are not paying extra for a towing service on your policy.
- If you were to use a tow truck operator, be sure to know your rights. Either you or your insurance provider may be held liable for the cost in towing your car away.
- When a repairer tows your car, make sure that your insurer approves them. If you are not insured, make sure to claim back possession of your vehicle as soon as possible. You will pay for storage incurred during that period.
- Before dealing with a towing company, make sure to understand all the costs involved before they tow your car away. You will pay for towing, salvage and storage services.
- Remember to get all the details of the towing company that you are using, before they tow your car away. Get the company’s name, driver’s name, tow truck's registration, address and telephone number.
- Make sure to read through the documentation that the tow truck driver has given you. Don’t just sign anything until you know what you are signing for. Also make sure that you are authorizing them to tow your car away. So, only the driver of the car can sign that document.
- Remember to remove all of your valuables from your car before it gets towed away. The tow truck company will not be held liable for missing valuables.
Do you have car insurance that could include a 24-hour roadside assistance service and towing service? Are you looking for affordable car insurance? Perhaps consider getting car insurance with PMD?
- 12 tips: How to deal with tow trucks and SA police