Auto Insurance Org. Releases Cities and States with Worst Towing Practices
July 07, 2011 (PRLEAP.COM) Business NewsOnlineAutoInsurance.com is advising consumers to be aware of the signs of overly aggressive tow-truck practices in light of the results of a new survey by the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America (PCI).
Stranded motorists are more likely to be taken for a ride by unscrupulous tow truck operators in Chicago than in any other city nationwide, according to the new survey.
The poll by the PCI found that consumers nationwide often face "skyrocketing and inconsistent charges and fees associated with towing and storage."
Chicago, Philadelphia and New York City were named the worst cities in the country for outrageous towing and storage fees. Illinois, Pennsylvania and New York topped the list for states with aggressive towing tactics.
The survey, based on input from PCI's more than 1,000 member insurance companies, highlights common hassles that can mean big bills for consumers and insurers and may make it hard for motorists to maintain cheap auto insurance policies.
Some of the consumer feedback stands out:
—A Chicago woman faced a $915 towing bill and $100 daily storage fees after a minor accident. The tow company refused to release her vehicle without a cash payment.
—An Iowa company billed an insurer $892 to tow a vehicle 7 miles.
—A towing operator in Virginia charged administrative fees of $350 for notifying owners by mail that their vehicles had been taken to a storage facility.
Claims flagged by insurers because of padded storage and towing bills more than doubled from 2009 to 2010, according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau.
"Aggressive and unscrupulous towing companies can make the unpleasant experience of having an auto accident that much worse," said Bob Passmore, an executive at PCI.
Industry experts say most tow truck companies are honest, but point out that scammers are out there. The New York State Insurance Department reported in 2010 that a common scam involved operators listening to police scanners, then racing to accident scenes and pressuring motorists into having their vehicles towed to repair shops charging sky-high prices.
The department outlined some steps motorists can take to protect themselves:
—Have your car towed to whichever repair shop you choose. If you must rely on a shop suggested by the operator, ask for detailed information, including the address and whether storage fees will apply.
—Ask right away for a breakdown of towing charges and carefully check anything you are asked to sign.
— Get a receipt, note the license plate number of the tow truck and ask for any licensing information issued to the operator by local regulators.
To read more about this and other car coverage issues, go to http://www.onlineautoinsurance.com/cheap/ where visitors will find informative resource pages and a quote-comparison generator that can assist consumers in efficiently comparing policy prices.