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Roadside Assist: Know before you tow!

Should you be involved in an accident, or if your car breaks down, it’s vital to make sure you get authorisation from your insurance company before engaging the services of a tow-truck operator.  Your insurance will not pay for the towing if you don’t use an accredited provider. 

If your vehicle needs to be towed, these are the steps to follow.

  • Don’t let anyone else phone your insurance company on your behalf.
  • Call your insurance company’s towline (pre-programme this number into your phone).
  • If a towing service is arranged, ask for the reference number.
  • Once the tow truck driver has arrived ensure the reference numbers match.
  • Don’t let your vehicle out your sight unless you have all the tow truck driver’s details.
  • Driver’s full name.
  • Physical address of the towing company.
  • All contact numbers including a landline number.
  • Registration number of the tow truck.
  • Don’t sign a blank towing form.
  • Get written notification of where your vehicle is being towed to and the costs involved.
  • Take out all your valuable items before your vehicle is taken away.
  • Call your insurer or broker after your vehicle has been towed to make sure everything is in order.

Most insurers encourage policy holders to use their dedicated call centres or towing services as a matter of course.  This allows them to make the necessary arrangements quickly and relieves some of the burden on you, the policy holder at the time of an accident or break down.

The reason for this arrangement is that insurers negotiate preferential rates with authorised and reputable towing companies.  These rates minimise costs and ensure a specified level of service.  These agreements also eliminate the possibility of hidden costs.  The use of unauthorised towing service to remove a vehicle from an accident or breakdown scene could cost tens of thousands of rand in release fees.

Engaging an unauthorised operator means you could be charged for the initial tow, a second tow if necessary, recovery, storage at a daily rate and an administration charge may also be levied.  If an unauthorised towing operator is used, insurance companies also limit their liability regarding towing and storage.

It’s vital that you understand the contents of your insurance policy, and whether or not you have towing cover. If you do, then an authorised tow truck will be sent to help you at no extra cost. However, if you don’t have towing cover, then any assistance provided by a towing company will be at your own expense. In addition, using an operator that your insurer hasn’t approved, means you’ll have zero recourse if anything goes wrong.

Please call Melissa on 044 382 0550 if you’re not sure what it says about towing in your vehicle policy. She’ll also be able to arrange a free Road Assist sticker for your car should you need one.

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