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: Apr 13, 2022

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Key Takeaways

  • Most car insurance companies offer towing coverage
  • Towing often covers accidents and mechanical breakdowns
  • You may have a deductible or co-pay on your towing coverage

While no one likes the process of getting their vehicle towed, when an accident occurs, the first thing you want to know is, does insurance cover towing a car? Tow truck services can be expensive. Depending on your car insurance policy, you may be able to get at least a portion of the costs covered.

This article will talk about how insurance can help you with towing costs, what to do if you need a tow, and how to choose the right towing coverage.

What is car insurance towing coverage?

In a covered event, your car insurance may pay the cost of towing your vehicle to the nearest repair facility or garage.  It can be part of your auto policy, an add-on, or even a stand-alone service. Unfortunately, we ignore this type of car insurance coverage until we need it more often than not.

If you are in an accident or your car breaks down, your first question usually is, “does insurance cover towing a car?” If you are covered, it can be a great help when stranded on the side of the road. However, it is essential to be aware of the restrictions and limitations of this coverage.

Car insurance towing is usually only available if you are a policyholder. In addition, there may be restrictions on the distance your policy will pay to tow your car.

You also may need to pay a co-pay or deductible for the towing services. Be sure to read your policy carefully to understand what is covered and what isn’t covered.

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What are the benefits of car insurance towing coverage?

Most people understand the basics of car insurance: it’s a way to protect yourself financially in the event of an auto accident, mechanical breakdown, or being stuck on the side of the road. However, few people understand all the benefits of car insurance policies. One of the lesser-known benefits is towing coverage.

The benefit of towing coverage is that you will be able to get your car towed to the nearest service station or repair shop if it breaks down. Towing can save you a lot of time and money.

Not many people realize this, but car insurance towing can also help you get your car out of a tight spot. If you are stuck in the mud or snow, for example, towing coverage can help pay for you to get your vehicle back on the road.

How Towing Services Work

If your car breaks down or you are in an accident, your insurance company may provide or reimburse you for towing services. Tow truck companies charge a towing fee. The fee varies depending on the distance the tow truck has to travel. Your car is typically towed to the nearest service station or repair shop when towing is needed.

Tow trucks usually are the standard vehicle of choice for providing towing services. The tow truck driver will often use tow straps or chains to pull your vehicle to the truck. They will then secure your vehicle for towing.

If you need to use a tow truck, you should always call your insurance company. Your insurance company may provide you with a list of companies you can use. They can also give you a rundown on the process and make sure you don’t do anything that could jeopardize your towing coverage.

What You Should Do if You Need a Tow

The first thing you should try to do is call your insurance company. Depending on your coverage, you may have to pay for the tow truck service. Your agent can tell you if there is coverage there for you. If you are towed and cannot contact your insurance company, you should contact them as soon as possible to inform them of the incident. They will tell you how to proceed from there.

If towing is not a base policy benefit, you may still be able to get reimbursed for some or all of the cost. It is always worth it to contact your insurance company. Some companies allow their customers to purchase optional add-ons that cover towing. Placing towing coverage on your policy will only cover events that happen after adding it to your policy.

If you need a tow because the other car is at fault in the accident, their insurance policy will cover your towing charges, provided they have a policy in force at the time of the accident. While this seems clear-cut, it can become complicated quickly if the responsibility of the accident is difficult to determine. Do your best to navigate the situation and reach out to your agent as soon as possible.

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Get Your Car Towed to the Nearest Service Station or Garage When It Breaks Down

Most car insurance policies can include a towing benefit which will cover the cost of towing your car to the nearest service station or garage. This coverage can be a great help if your car breaks down and you need to get it fixed quickly.

However, policies usually limit the amount they will pay to cover your towing expense. The limit ensures they aren’t paying to have your car towed too far. Policies may pay to cover all or most of the cost of towing your vehicle to the nearest repair shop if you have towing coverage on your policy. Make sure you understand coverage limits before you need them.

How Towing Can Save You Money

If you ever have your car towed, there are a few things you need to know to help you take advantage of the service and potentially save yourself some money.

The first thing you need to know is that your tow company may be able to bill your insurance company directly. Ask them, and if they can’t bill directly, you may have to pay out of pocket for the towing charges. At that point, you will want to keep your receipt and turn it into your insurance company for possible reimbursement. Some companies will offer a refund, but others will not, so it is best to understand how your insurer works.

The last thing you need to know is that not all tow trucks are created equal. If time and the situation allow, doing some research can save you money if your policy doesn’t cover your towing. If you can, take your time and find a reputable tow truck company that offers reasonable rates.

Make Sure You Understand What Your Towing Covers and How to Use It if You Need It

Be sure to understand what your car insurance policy covers. Some policies only include towing for accidents or breakdowns, while others may cover tows for needed repairs or moving a car from one location to another. And finally, some will charge you a deductible or a co-pay. So, before you sign on the dotted line with the tow truck driver, make sure you understand what you are paying for the towing service.

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How to Choose the Right Car Insurance Towing Policy

When comparing affordable car insurance options for your auto insurance, make sure you ask your carrier. Not all car insurance may cover towing, so you’ll need to make sure you’re covered explicitly for this service. As we have said before, contact your insurer and ask before you need the coverage if you’re not sure.

If you opt-out of your towing coverage or if your carrier doesn’t offer it, there are a few things to consider when towing your vehicle. First, not all tow trucks are created equal. You’ll need to know what type of tow truck is best for your needs. A fancy sports car or foreign-made vehicle may have special towing requirements. Finally, not all towing companies charge the same price or the same mileage fee, so check around with your local companies if at all possible.

Finally, if your insurer doesn’t offer towing coverage, you can obtain third-party coverage through one of several roadside assistance companies.

So, whether you are stranded on the road with your car in a snowbank or you have been in an accident, towing coverage can suddenly become a critical part of your auto insurance policy. As we have said several times throughout this article, call your insurance company if you have questions about your towing coverage.