Knowing your rights and the steps to take after an accident will help you to be prepared in the event of an unexpected collision. We suggest that you follow these steps:
1. Decide who will tow your vehicle
Unless directed by police, you have the right to decide who can tow your vehicle and where they can tow it to. Tow truck drivers you didn’t call will often appear quickly on the scene and may try to get you to accept a tow from their company. If you didn’t call a tow truck and can’t confirm if you’re dealing with a reputable company, take a few moments to assess your options.
2. Call your insurance company
Call your insurance company as soon as possible to report the collision and confirm your coverage before you sign or authorize any towing or other documentation. In some cases, your insurance company may be able to recommend a preferred repair shop to tow your car.
3. Contact your roadside assistance provider
If you have access to a roadside assistance service, you should consider using them instead of an independent towing company. When you call them, let them know you’ve been in a collision – some roadside assistance services don’t cover towing after a collision.
4. Take photos and collect your belongings
If possible, take photos of the collision scene and the damage to all vehicles involved before your vehicle is moved. Don’t forget to take photos of the interior of your car and any personal belongings left inside. Remember to remove any valuables. If you’ve left personal items in the vehicle, you have the right to visit the storage facility during business hours to collect them.
5. Have the car towed to your preferred repair facility
You can have your vehicle towed to the repair shop of your choice or to one of your insurance company’s preferred repair facilities. You may want to avoid taking referrals for repair shops from tow truck operators because some drivers are paid a referral fee from local body shops.
A reputable towing company will not insist on taking your vehicle to a specific location unless directed to by the police.
6. Don’t sign anything until you’ve read it
Do not sign any documents you haven’t read or don’t understand. The only document you should sign for the tow is the Permission to Tow a Vehicle form – unless you have an auto club membership. You should not sign a work order to have your vehicle repaired by a specific repair shop until you’ve spoken with your auto insurance company. Also remember: the tow truck driver is obligated to provide you with an itemized invoice that indicates what services you’re paying for before you issue payment.
7. Don’t pay in cash unless you want to
If a tow truck driver insists that you pay cash, it may be a sign you are not dealing with a reputable company. Tow truck drivers are required to accept multiple forms of payment.
If you require a tow, knowing your rights will help ease the process and reduce your stress. If you’re unsure about your towing coverage or have questions about your insurance policy, contact your auto insurance provider.
These tips are provided for information and prevention purposes only. They are general in nature, and Desjardins Insurance cannot be held liable for them. We recommend using caution and consulting an expert for comprehensive, tailored advice.
In Quebec, Desjardins Insurance refers to Desjardins General Insurance Inc. In Ontario and Alberta, Desjardins Insurance refers to Certas Direct Insurance Company, underwriter of automobile and property insurance.