How to File a Tow Car Insurance Claim

Car Towed
Getty Images/Sam Edwards

Perhaps you’ve popped a tire. Or maybe you were in a rush and left your headlights on when you turned off your car, and are now coming back to a car that won’t start. Or perhaps you’ve managed to let your car run out of gas and you’re miles from the nearest gas station. In any of these cases, you’ll need to call a tow truck. And though you may not be thinking about anything other than getting yourself and your car where you need to go at the moment, it helps to know exactly how to make sure you’re not the one paying for the towing if you don’t have to -- and that’s where your car insurance policy that you pay good money for comes in handy.

How do you file a tow related car insurance claim? Is it hard? How long does it take? Do not worry. If you have selected roadside assistance as a coverage on your car insurance policy, filing a claim is very easy. I might even take it a step further and say totally painless. Follow these simple steps and you will be on your way in no time at all.


Know Your Insurance Coverage

Find out how your roadside assistance coverage works. If you do not already know, the best place to check is your car insurance agent or customer service representative. Check your proof of insurance. Most proofs come with a phone number for both your insurance agent and a 24/7 customer service representative. Call them to find out how much coverage you have and whether or not they offer to send a tow truck out immediately at the time of loss.


File the Tow Claim At the Time You Are In Need of a Tow

Filing a towing claim at the time you need the tow has its pros and cons.

What it means is that instead of calling a tow truck, you call to file your claim and your insurance company will call and send their preferred tow service out to perform the tow.


Pros

• You pay no money out of pocket (hooray!)

• You do not have to wait for reimbursement (hooray!)

• You do not have to deal with paperwork (hooray!)


Cons

• Your insurance carrier will pick the tow company.

• It might take longer than if you called around to several companies to see who could respond the fastest.

• The tow service will most likely call you to confirm the tow so if you happen to miss the call it could delay your service.

• The need to go through the claims process immediately which does take a few extra minutes of your time.


Call Your Own Tow Truck and Get Reimbursed

Some insurance carriers only allow for a towing claim to be reimbursed. That means you call the tow company, pay for the tow, then send your receipt to your insurance company and wait for reimbursement. This option has its pros and cons, too.


Pros

• You get to select your own tow service company.

• You will speak directly to the tow company with your first phone call instead of waiting for a callback.


Cons

• You may have to pay for the tow out of pocket (this is where something like an AAA membership, which provides several bouts of free towing per year, comes in very handy!)

• You then have to wait to get reimbursed (often tow claim reimbursement is very fast and can happen within the week).

• You will need to provide your tow receipt to your insurance carrier or agent either by dropping it off, faxing it, or emailing it.


As you can see, both options are easily handled. The trickiest part is probably trying to remember whether or not you selected roadside assistance coverage when you set up your policy. If your vehicle is not driveable due to a covered accident, then your tow claim is almost always covered as part of your claim regardless if you have roadside assistance or not. Check with your insurance agent if you have any questions. That is what you pay them for!