How to File a Tow Car Insurance Claim

a woman on the phone with a tow truck driver in the background
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Perhaps you’ve popped a tire or locked yourself out of your car. Or maybe you were in a rush and left your headlights on when you turned off your car, and now you're 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 may 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 towing if you don’t have to. 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? If you have selected roadside assistance as coverage on your car insurance policy, filing a claim is very easy. 

Key Takeaways

  • Drivers can either file a towing claim as soon as the tow is needed, or they can pay for the tow themselves and seek reimbursement from the insurance company later.
  • If you file the claim when you need the tow, your service may be delayed, and the insurance company will pick the towing company used.
  • Filing the claim later is much more convenient, but you'll pay out of pocket and run the risk of not receiving your reimbursement right away.

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 proof of insurance comes 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 they offer to send a tow truck out immediately at the time of loss.

Filing 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 of Filing a Tow Claim at the Time You Need It

  • You pay no money out of pocket.
  • You do not have to wait for reimbursement.
  • You do not have to deal with paperwork.

Cons of Filing a Tow Claim at the Time You Need It

  • Your insurance carrier will pick the towing 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.

Tip

If you are in a safe area and aren’t crunched for time, going through your insurance provider to book a tow truck can save you some hassle in terms of paperwork as well as some out-of-pocket costs that you’d otherwise need to cover while your claim is being processed.

Calling Your Own Tow Truck and Getting 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 of Getting Your Tow Reimbursed

  • 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 of Getting Your Tow Reimbursed

  • You may have to pay for the tow out of pocket. This is where something like an AAA membership, which provides several instances of free towing per year, can really come in 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.

Note

If you’re in a remote area or feel at all unsafe, you should definitely try to get a towing company to rescue you as soon as you can, which may mean that you need to call one on your own. If you happen to know a safe and reliable company that you like—and you don’t mind waiting to be reimbursed—this is a good option as well. 

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.