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ISSUED 12/28/2010 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

PLAN AHEAD BEFORE YOU’RE STRANDED AND NEED A TOW

It’s the dead of winter, you’re stranded on the side of the road and need a tow. What should you keep in mind before letting someone tow away your car?

“There are insurance-related issues consumers should understand about using towing services. It always pays to be prepared instead of being blindsided with surprises,” Insurance Superintendent James Wrynn said.

"It's important to understand how to deal with a towing service even if you have an emergency roadside assistance program through a motor club, car manufacturer, your insurer or your car's onboard navigation system.” Wrynn said.

The New York State Insurance Department urged consumers to keep the following pointers in mind when using towing services:

  • Have your car towed to the repair shop of your choice. If you’re not close to home and don’t know where to have your car taken, get detailed information if the tow-truck operator suggests a repair shop, including its address and whether you will be charged a storage fee.
  • Ask up front what the towing charges will cost and review anything you are asked to sign.
  • Ask for a receipt, make sure the information on it coincides with the licensing information on the side of the truck, write down the plate number of the tow-truck and ask for the licensing information issued to the service from the local government agency.
  • The tow-truck operator should complete a damage report before towing your car away, so review the report to make sure it accurately describes any damages that may have occurred if you were in an accident.
  • Don’t give your insurance information to the tow-truck operator.

While most tow-truck operators are honest, there have been reports of scams involving tow-truck services in some parts of the country. These scams commonly involve operators monitoring police scanners. They race to the scene of a disabled car and pressure motorists into having cars towed to repair shops charging inflated prices.

Consumers should contact their insurance company, agent or broker to discuss their specific insurance questions. They should contact the Insurance Department’s Consumer Services Bureau from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday toll-free at 800-342-3736 if they need further help. Additional information is available on the Department’s website, www.ins.state.ny.us.

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