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: May 3, 2022

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Here's what you need to know...

  • Liability insurance is extremely important and often the only type of coverage that you are required to carry
  • Your liability policy will pay when you or a permissive driver are operating a covered vehicle
  • Without insurance on the car, you will be left to pay for all of the repair bills

Having your car towed is rarely a pleasant process. It means you’ve been in an accident, your car broke down, or something else went wrong. The company you call to help you may be friendly and offer a flat towing rate or other benefits. But it doesn’t cancel out the inconvenience that got you there in the first place.

If you have insurance, you may have roadside assistance. In this case, you can call your insurance company to have a tow truck driver help you with anything from fuel or a spare tire to a full tow for a set low price. What if you don’t have insurance? Sure, you’ll pay the full price of the tow yourself. But will towing companies take care of you?

The simple answer is generally, yes. The common liabilities insurance would cover would just fall back on you.

While the rules of the road may eliminate the need for state minimum car insurance, there are still scenarios where insurance is mandatory.

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Can companies tow an uninsured non-working vehicle?

If a car is not licensed to be operated on public roadways, you may choose to skip the expense by keeping the car uninsured. This could be a previously totaled vehicle that hasn’t been repaired to working condition. It could also be a vehicle with an out of date registration you don’t want to pay to update yet.

Depending on why you want to tow it, the towing company may require different documentation. For example, if you’re having it towed to the junk card to sell it for parts or to donate it, the company you’re selling it to may want documentation proving you own the car. If you’re towing it to a repair shop, the towing company and repair shop may want proof you’ll pay your bills. State minimum car insurance doesn’t generally play into the towing situation in these circumstances.

However, keep in mind, towing a car without insurance can present challenges. Plus, you could run into other legal challenges, especially if you were driving.

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Will you be protected in the event of a loss?

Liability insurance is extremely important and often the only type of coverage that you are required to carry when you own a vehicle and operate it on public highways in most states. Officials want to be sure that if you cause an accident or other damage, you can cover the injuries and property damage of the other party. State minimums cover modest accidents.

When you buy liability coverage, it consists of both bodily injury and property damage which will pay for third-party medical bills, lost income, and repair bills that you have been found to be responsible for.

As long as the towed vehicle is attached to the covered vehicle that has active liability insurance the damages are covered. Typically, the towing vehicle will carry certain professional coverages for mishaps that may occur along the way.

If you have insurance, your insurance might kick in if your car comes loose or something else happens. If you have comprehensive and collision coverages, insurance might even cover other damage that can happen while your car is being towed. If you do not have your own insurance, a tow vehicle generally has limited liability coverage for their mistakes only.

When would you file a liability claim on a towed vehicle?

If a covered vehicle is towing another vehicle that happens to be uninsured, the lead driver will still be protected in specific scenarios.

Towing a vehicle can be dangerous and does require experience and skill. From the truck itself to safety chains, there are many parts an experienced driver has to use to properly secure a car. It is not out of the ordinary to veer into another lane, brake late, or collide with another vehicle if you have a car in tow. Unfortunately, one piece coming loose from chains to a tow hitch could do a lot of damage in just seconds. Towing companies face this risk every day.

If your car is hit by rocks on the road while being towed, you would probably not file a claim unless there was serious damage to the windshield or something else. Then you would have to document and prove it came from the towing time. Generally speaking, claims are not filed on the tow vehicle policy for minor damage or anything that might’ve come from other causes. If your car is being towed after an accident, it may be impossible to prove any connection unless something happens like the trailer hitch coming loose.

Will the vehicle be covered for repairs if it is damaged?

If you have a loss where you collide with another vehicle or object, chances are you will need to file two separate claims.

You will file a liability claim, which will be filed against the lead car’s policy.

Unfortunately, if the car that is being towed is damaged, the physical damage coverage on the lead car’s insurance will not also extend to vehicles in tow. Depending on the circumstances, this could leave you to pay or have the towing company pay directly. Insurance companies may also look at things like towing capacity and the way the car being towed was set up before paying out.

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How can you cover a vehicle being towed for damage?

If you are worried about your vehicle being damaged while it is being towed, you should have coverage on the car.

Without insurance on the car, you will be left to pay for all of the repairs bills without any help from an insurance company or a tow company.

It is crucial that you have the right insurance for towing a car before you go on your local or cross-country trip.

If you are looking for an alternative to the standard car insurance plan that includes liability and damage coverage, buying a specialty car towing plan is a good idea.

Be sure that the plan includes damage sustained by comprehensive and collision losses.

Things to Remember Before You Cancel Your Insurance

Just because many states do not require a towed vehicle to have its own insurance doesn’t mean you should rush to request a cancellation of your insurance policy.

Towed vehicles may temporarily have coverage from the car that is doing the towing, but once the car is disconnected the coverage is gone.

There still may be a need for liability insurance that complies with state insurance or financial responsibility laws.

Criminal Consequences

If you are the owner of the car and the car is registered within the state, you must maintain the minimum amount of liability insurance to comply.

Failing to do this can land you in hot water.

Some of the penalties for failing to insure a vehicle that is registered include:

  • Suspension of license plates
  • Fines and fees for parking an uninsured vehicle
  • Vehicle impoundment
  • Citations and fines if the vehicle is driven
  • Suspension of driver license
  • Reinstatement fees

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Consequences with Your Lender

If your vehicle is still being financed, you need to fulfill your obligations, even when the car you are paying finance charges for cannot be driven.

It might sound like a good idea to save money by canceling your insurance, this can lead to inflated interest charges and violations of your contract with your borrower.

The borrower can force-place insurance, which will only protect the lender and not your own interests.

As you can see, there is not just one simple answer when you ask whether or not you can insure a vehicle with no insurance.

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