Rogue Towing: What To Know & Tips To Avoid It

Emotions can be high after a car accident.

If a tow truck conveniently appears without anyone having to make a call, it may seem like you’re in luck. However, these unsolicited tow trucks may not be the relief you were hoping for. These drivers are operating as rogue towers who utilize predatory business practices to take advantage of vulnerable and unsuspecting individuals.

While the vast majority of tow truck companies and operators are honest and trustworthy, there are operators who use predatory techniques, known as rogue towing, to run their business.

What is Rogue Towing?

Rogue towing refers to tow truck operators who swarm unsuspecting victims of car accidents without proper dispatch or contract. These towers do not provide clear transparency regarding fees, policies or impound procedures, leaving you confused and possibly on the hook for an exorbitant amount of money. Unlike authorized tows, rogue towers will charge additional fees for administration, winching and even dolly services. All of which should be included in the standard price of the tow.

In some cases, these companies will take it a step further to pad their wallets. After towing your vehicle, they will keep relocating the damaged vehicle to rack up daily storage fees, without any disclosure. What should cost $175-$250 to tow and about $50 a day to store*, suddenly grows into thousands of dollars. These fees can gross more than the value of your damaged vehicle. In these instances, insurance companies may choose to write off the vehicle as a total loss rather than collecting the vehicle from the tow company.

*These rates can vary based on location.

How Does Rouge Towing Occur? 

Rogue towers monitor police scanners for recent accident reports. They will often state they work for “X” insurance company even if they were never dispatched by the carrier. By arriving before the contracted tow company, they hope to persuade vehicle owners to agree to and sign a private tow contract. Once the contract is signed and the car has been loaded, the costs and frustrations are only beginning.

What Should You Do to Prevent Falling Victim to Predatory Towers?

After an accident, deciding which vendor will tow your car may be one of the least of your worries. However, there are a few ways to prevent an already stressful and scary situation from becoming even more frustrating.

If you have roadside assistance coverage, consider the following tips:

Call Your Insurance Company– Always call your insurance company or roadside assistance program to request a tow. They will dispatch a driver to you and alert you of their status.

Verify The Tow Company- When the truck arrives, verify if it is the same company your insurance carrier dispatched to the scene. If you are unsure, confirm with the insurance representative. If the police requested the tow on your behalf, verify with the officer that the correct vendor arrived.

Read The Paperwork Before Signing– Always ask what the paperwork is for and read it through carefully. If you are given a full contract that refers to the transaction as a private tow, this can be a sign of predatory tow. Tow companies that are sent by your insurance carrier usually will not require you to sign a full contract. They may only require a liability waiver to be signed in the event your vehicle is stolen.

Never Accept a Tow From a Driver You Did Not Request- If you did not call anyone for the service, do not accept their tow.

What to Do if You Don’t have Roadside Assistance Coverage?

If you do not have roadside assistance coverage, make sure to call a reputable towing company to request service. Do not accept a tow from a driver you did not request, and make sure you review all documentation before signing.

In the unfortunate event you are unable to call for your own tow service due to emergency medical intervention, the police will coordinate the tow of your vehicle from a list of approved vendors. 

Whether or not you have roadside coverage, it is good practice to remove any personal belongings from your vehicle and photograph your damaged car before it is towed away.

If you believe you have been scammed by a predatory towing company, report it to relevant authorities.


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