Rachael Brennan has been working in the insurance industry since 2006 when she began working as a licensed insurance representative for 21st Century Insurance, during which time she earned her Property and Casualty license in all 50 states. After several years she expanded her insurance expertise, earning her license in Health and AD&D insurance as well. She has worked for small health insuran...

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Chris Harrigan has an economic degree from Limestone College and an MBA from Clemson University. He previously managed auto insurance claims for Enterprise Rent-A-Car. Currently, he is using his business and insurance expertise to provide insurance data analysis and visualizations to enhance the user experience.

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Reviewed by Chris Harrigan
Former Auto Insurance Claims Manager Chris Harrigan

UPDATED: Sep 26, 2020

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Key takeaways...

  • Policies that include physical damage coverage may provide coverage for towing to a nearby repair shop when you suffer a comprehensive loss or collision loss that renders your vehicle inoperable
  • If you’re in a non-fault accident, your expenses for towing may be covered by the third-party insurer after fault has been determined
  • Comprehensive and collision coverage options don’t pay for towing charges when your vehicle breaks down because of a wear and tear issue
  • Towing and labor coverage provides coverage or reimbursement to tow the covered vehicle, to deliver gas, to change a flat or to get a key replacement

Towing your car just five miles or less can cost you anywhere from $35 to $135 depending on the company and the area.

This cost can go up to nearly $300 if you need to tow your vehicle beyond the five-mile range. Since towing costs can be exorbitant, it’s important to prepare for a rainy day.

Part of this preparation is buying coverage that’ll either pay for towing services or help cover a portion of the cost.

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There are a few ways that you can go about paying for towing hookup and mileage fees. You can either pay 100 percent of the fees on your own, buy roadside assistance through an auto club, or purchase an optional coverage for towing on your car insurance policy.

For your auto insurance to pay for towing bills, you have to build a comprehensive insurance portfolio that includes more than just basic coverage.

Does a basic policy include coverage for towing?


A basic auto insurance policy is a policy that’s required by law in the state. Since most states operate under a fault-based tort system, a majoring of basic auto insurance policies consist of only third-party liability protection.

Since third-party coverage only pays for someone else’s damages, the policy won’t provide any towing service for your vehicle.

It will, however, kick in to pay for someone else’s property damage and towing services needed if you’re responsible for a loss and the other vehicle can’t be driven away.

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What does a basic car insurance policy cover?

A basic car insurance policy includes the coverage that’s required under state law. The actual limits that are required vary from state to state, but the coverage requirements are generally the same.

If you live in a state operating under tort law, here are the coverages that you must have:

  • Bodily Injury Liability – Pays for third-party medical bills, pain and suffering claims, and funeral expenses up to the limits on your policy.
  • Property Damage Liability – Pays for third-party repairs or to replace the property that’s damaged beyond repair. The policy will only pay up to the actual cash value of the property up to the limit on the policy.
  • Uninsured Motorist Protection – Uninsured Motorist, also known as UM, will pay to cover your medical expenses when you’re injured in an accident and the other party doesn’t have Bodily Injury Liability coverage. This coverage can be rejected in writing in most states.
  • Medical Payments – Medical Payments, also known as Med Pay, is a first-party coverage that pays for your own medical bills even when you’re at fault in a collision. Since fault isn’t used to see if you’re eligible for benefits, you can receive Med Pay benefits almost immediately.

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How can you get towing coverage on your auto policy?

If you want your insurance to pay for towing when your car won’t start or when you’re in an accident, you should add the optional towing and labor coverage option to your plan.

This special endorsement can help you cover some or all of the roadside assistance expenses that you accrue when you break down. Not all insurance companies offer towing and labor coverage, but most larger carriers do.

What does towing and labor coverage pay for?

Towing and labor coverage can protect you from financial hardship, but the coverage does have its limitations. If you don’t know about these limitations, you might assume that you have more protection than you really do.

Here are some of the benefits that come with the optional vehicle breakdown coverage on your auto insurance policy:

  • A maximum number of gallons for gas delivery
  • A limit on the number of miles towed
  • A fee for smart keys for locksmith services
  • Tire changes with spares only
  • Small onsite repairs for battery replacements

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How much is towing and labor coverage?


Towing and labor coverage is very inexpensive but you must carry some physical damage coverage before you’re eligible for the addition. If you have a liability-only insurance policy, you probably won’t be eligible for towing.

Companies typically require you to have a minimum of comprehensive coverage before you’re eligible to buy towing coverage for just five to seven dollars per term.

When will your insurance pay for towing without towing and labor coverage?

You may have towing coverage after an accident even though you don’t have breakdown coverage on your policy. Most companies will include the cost for a tow under the benefits for the coverage that’ll pay for your vehicle.

For the tow to be covered, you must have either comprehensive or collision. Here are some instances where tows are covered:

  • You’re in an at-fault collision and you have collision coverage
  • You’re hit by someone and you have collision and you can’t drive your vehicle to a nearby repair shop
  • A tree falls on your car and you have comprehensive coverage
  • Someone vandalizes your vehicle and it won’t start and you carry comprehensive coverage
  • Your car is flooded and you carry comprehensive coverage

Other Types of Towing Coverage

You don’t always need roadside assistance coverage. Some new cars come with roadside assistance and some lessors cover the cost for leased cars.

If you buy roadside assistance with your warranty, your car insurance coverage will be secondary.

It’s important to be cost conscious when you’re making a decision. If you want extra protection, it might make sense to pay a few dollars more for more protection.

Pricing the cost of insurance through several companies is the best way to save. Use an intelligent auto insurance comparison tool to compare premiums, and then decide if you want car towing coverage on your auto insurance plan.

Compare car insurance rates now by using our FREE quote tool below!