Usually, you are on the side of the road somewhere with traffic whizzing past. You are already late for where you were going, and to make things worse, your transport could be limited for several days while your vehicle is being fixed.
Here are 10 things to do BEFORE HAVING YOUR CAR TOWED, to make a stressful situation as good as possible.
They can give you expert advice about what procedure you should follow, including organizing and emailing you the forms you are going to need. They might even be able to recommend a reliable towing service in your area. Even if it is outside of usual business hours, insurance companies often provide extra phone coverage for these situations.
Your car might not need towing. You might be able to drive it "as is" to the garage, but your well-being is more important. Unless you are absolutely sure that you can drive your vehicle safely to the repair shop, get it towed.
Make a note of the company name. If possible, ask the towing dispatcher for the name of the driver who will arrive. Perhaps the tow truck will have a number painted on the outside or some other identifying marks. Find out and write this information down.
You have already gotten relevant information from other drivers and/or witnesses (if appplicable). Now, record the damage you see on the exterior, interior, and under the hood. You can use these photos as a checklist to make sure your garage has repaired your vehicle well. Photos will also come in handy when you complete your insurance paperwork.
Time to use the emergency shopping bag or nylon bag which you have in your glove compartment or trunk. (If you don't have one, put one there now.) Put all your valuable and personal items inside the bag – anything which you will be sad to lose or need while your car is in the garage.
Using the information you got earlier, make sure that the tow truck and driver who arrived are from the company you called. Some towing companies patrol the roads, looking for broken down vehicles and stranded drivers. While they might be reliable, they might not.
If a tow truck arrives other than the one you called, do not be convinced to change your decision.
You get to decide where your car will be towed. The only exception is if the police are on the scene and give other instructions.
Make sure the driver is clear about the location. Do not agree to a place other than your usual, reliable garage.
The tow truck driver needs to give you an itemized invoice. Thus, the pricing details should be filled in and not blank.
Make sure the quoted price appears reasonable. If in doubt, get in touch with your insurer again and ask for advice. Many insurers know local towing rates. Then, in case your insurance does not cover the entire towing fee, you will not be stuck paying an exorbitant bill.
The invoice should be for towing only, not any other services such as a work order for repairs.
Do not sign a blank contract of any sort.
In the majority of locations, paying by credit card is legal, and towing companies must accept this form of payment. It makes sense, too – most of us don't carry large amounts of cash around with us in case our cars need a tow. If the driver insists on cash, even though it is the company you called, think again. This is a sign that things could not be right. Perhaps it's time to call another towing company.
This does not include inside the towed vehicle. Put it in an inside pocket, your handbag, your wallet, etc. You will need to give it to your car insurer. It is also your proof of contract if anything happens to your car en route to your garage or repair shop.
Double-check that you have taken all personal and valuable items. Check in with your gut that everything seems in order and that you have not forgotten anything. Wish your car well, thank the tow truck driver for his/her help, and organize yourself a ride home or to your car garage.