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Does Car Insurance Cover Towing?

If you own a car long enough, there's a good chance that at some point it will be hooked up behind a tow truck. Accidents, mechanical breakdowns or illegal parking could all cause your car to be towed.

Towing can be an expensive proposition, not just a hassle. According to JD Power, the average cost of a tow is $109, and if long distances are involved that can easily rise to a few hundred dollars.

When faced with that kind of expense, a key question becomes: does car insurance cover towing?

While basic liability insurance doesn't cover having your car towed, collision insurance might in the event of an accident. If you want coverage in the event of a breakdown, you'll need roadside assistance coverage.

This article will explain when towing is and is not likely to be covered by auto insurance, so you can get the right type of coverage for the type of driving you do.

When Does Car Insurance Cover Towing?

Whether car insurance covers the cost of towing depends greatly on why towing is needed.

The table below gives a general overview of when insurance will cover the cost of towing. More about these specific situations will be explained in the sections that follow.

Why Towing is Needed

Is the Cost of Towing Likely to be Covered?

Mechanical breakdown

Only if you have roadside assistance coverage

Accident - your fault

Only if you have collision coverage

Accident - not your fault

Depends on the extent of coverage the at-fault driver has

Parked illegally

No

The average cost of a tow is $109, and if long distances are involved that can easily rise to a few hundred dollars.

Does car insurance cover the cost of towing?

Generally speaking, if you are at fault in an accident your car insurance will cover the cost of your vehicle being towed only if you have collision insurance. If you only have liability coverage, towing will probably not be covered.

If another driver is at fault, coverage of towing charges will depend on the extent of their insurance coverage. Otherwise, you may have to pay out-of-pocket and get reimbursed by the other driver's insurer.

Not only is coverage of towing specific to each insurance policy, but the amount of that coverage is very dependent on how the policy is worded.

Even when covered, sometimes towing coverage is limited to a certain amount of miles or a certain dollar amount. If the towing job exceeds those limits, you would have to pay the difference out of pocket.

Is my car insured while it's being towed?

Your auto insurance applies even while the vehicle is being towed, but what that entails depends on the type of coverage you have.

For example, unless you have collision coverage you won't be automatically covered if your car is in a collision while being towed. Depending on how it happened, another driver or the towing company may be liable.

Whether car insurance covers the cost of towing depends greatly on why towing is needed.

Towing Coverage Options

There are a couple of ways you can get towing coverage on an auto insurance policy: through collision insurance or a roadside assistance program.

After an Accident

If you want to be covered for towing after an accident, you should get collision insurance. Be sure to read the policy to see if towing costs are included, and what limitations there might be on dollar amounts or mileage.

Roadside assistance

Roadside assistance covers towing for a number of reasons other than having an accident, along with a variety of additional services. These might include:

  • Towing when stuck in mud or snow

  • Jump-starting when your battery dies

  • Locksmith service if you lock yourself out of the car

  • Towing or fuel delivery if you run out of gas

  • Changing a flat tire

Roadside assistance coverages vary by insurer, so check to see what a policy covers before you buy. Note that your car's warranty might include roadside assistance for a period of time.

Car Insurance with Roadside Assistance Plan

Does Car Insurance Cover Towing After an Accident?

Towing can be very important after your car's been in an accident. Even if it seems driveable, it might not be safe to operate and should be checked out by a mechanic first.

How the cost of towing is covered depends on who was at fault in the accident and the specifics of the insurance policy.

What if I'm not at fault?

If you're not at fault, the liability insurance of the other driver should cover the cost of damage to your car, including towing. However, this may be subject to limitations of the other driver's liability policy.

Do car insurance companies reimburse for towing?

Some auto insurance policies arrange for towing service, which they cover directly. Other policies require you to pay the towing charge out of pocket, and then file a claim to have the cost reimbursed.

Having the insurance company arrange towing directly is generally more convenient. It saves you having to front the money and then file a claim to recoup it. However, this may not be available in all areas.

If you only have liability coverage, towing will probably not be covered.

Does Auto Insurance Cover Impound Fees?

When your car is towed to a repair shop, they will generally start charging a daily fee if you don't pick it up promptly once it's ready. The same is true if your car is towed somewhere for being parked illegally.

Also, if there are repair or towing charges owed to the establishment that is holding your vehicle, they may not let you have your car back until those charges are paid. Meanwhile, they may charge you for the extra time of storing your car.

Auto insurance is not likely to cover impound fees or storage charges. If you do get towed, try to do what's necessary to get your car back as soon as possible to avoid additional charges.

How Do You Find Your Vehicle If It Has Been Towed?

If you are present when your vehicle is being towed, note the name and number of the towing company and, if possible, ask where they are taking the vehicle.

If you were not present, and your car was towed from a private lot, look around to see if there are signs posting information on where illegally parked cars are being towed. There is often a requirement for this information to be posted prominently if a lot owner is going to have cars towed away.

If you were on  a public street or in a private lot where no info is available, call the local police department to help you find your car.

This is another situation where you'll want to act quickly so you aren't charged extra fees for having your car held over multiple days.

Does Car Insurance Cover Towing: FAQs

If my car breaks down and needs towing, will insurance cover it?

You're only covered for towing after a breakdown if you are in a roadside assistance program, and only if that program includes towing. Liability, collision or comprehensive insurance is unlikely to cover towing on a car that has simply broken down.

Does my car insurance cover towing a trailer?

Typically yes, if you own the trailer and are towing it for non-commercial uses. Remember, though, that liability insurance doesn't cover damage to your own car so it wouldn't cover damage to a trailer. This would require collision or comprehensive coverage.

Will insurance cover me if my car is damaged by a tow truck?

Most likely, collision coverage will cover damage caused by a tow truck if the tow company doesn't pay (and if you don't sue). Your liability insurance wouldn't cover damages to your car, however. The towing company is liable under some circumstances but you'll need to prove they caused the damage, so having recent photos of the unblemished car helps.

Find the Best Way To Get the Towing Coverage You Need

Towing charges are not included in basic liability coverage. You're covered for towing in the event of an at-fault accident if you have collision coverage, and roadside assistance coverage will cover a tow in the event of a roadside mechanical breakdown.

As with all insurance extras though, adding coverage comes at a price. However, if you shop around for a policy and compare rates from multiple car insurance companies you may save hundreds, even after adding on optional coverages.

Enter your zip code below and answer some questions to see if you can get a better deal on car insurance. The service is free, and you may save up to 40% compared with what you're paying now, even after adding collision and/or roadside assistance.

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