When contacting a wrecker company to tow your car, or if your car has been towed from the scene of an accident the first thought on your mind is how much does this cost.. Unfortunately, in case of an accident tow, it isn’t as easy a question to answer.
If you are requesting a tow because of a breakdown, your costs are going to be limited to the tow truck coming to your location and transporting you and your vehicle to either your home or the mechanic of your choosing. In most cases of an owner requested tow, your insurance company will likely reimburse the cost of your tow under the roadside assistance coverage on your vehicle’s policy. You only need your tow receipt to submit to the insurance company.
In the case of an accident tow charges are calculated differently, though, covered by your insurance company as long as you have full coverage insurance. Tow companies are required to handle crash scenes differently than an owner requested tow and many factors are considered on the final tow bill.
Location and condition of the vehicle
When an accident occurs and the vehicles involved acquire significant damage where the vehicle is not longer operable, a tow from the scene is required by law. It is the tow company’s responsibility to then load your car from it’s resting place onto the truck. When the vehicle is located a significant distance from the roadway, extra winching may be required to move the vehicle into a position to be loaded safely onto the truck.
There may also be loose panels or vehicle components that are no longer attached. These pieces may need to be secured to the vehicle, using crash wrap, prior to loading in order to ensure safe transportation and the safety of other motorists.
Amount of debris and fluids on the roadway
The towing company called to the scene of your accident is required to clear the debris from the roadway. This, depending on the significance of the accident, could required additional time at the scene of the accident while they clear the roadways and facilitate the return of normal traffic patterns.
Motor vehicles require a number of different fluids to function properly. During the course of an accident, when components are damaged, these fluids leak onto the roadways and it is the responsibility of the tow company to clean the fluids. Using specialized compounds and old-fashioned hard work, the roadways are cleared of these fluids making it safe for all types of vehicle travel.
Time on scene
All of these items amount to additional time at the scene of the accident. A number of other factors can contribute to the amount of time used, however, most fall into these two categories.
Storage of damaged vehicle
Once the vehicle has been removed from the accident scene, the vehicle is taken to the impound lot until arrangements are made to retrieve it. The length of time the vehicle remains on the impound lot determines the additional storage fees on your final tow bill.
These items represent only a small sampling of the itemized items on your tow bill, but are the most important and impactful charges. If you are interested in a complete itemized list of the types of charges incurred during an accident tow can be found in our FAQs.
It’s important to remember that whether your tow is for an accident or a roadside assistance call, your insurance will likely cover most, or all, of your fees.