Towing After a Wreck: What to Do if Your Car Is Totaled
The moments after a serious car accident are stressful and confusing. If your car is in bad enough shape that it can’t be driven, you know you’ll have to get it towed — but how does that work? Are there other steps you should be taking? Below are some important things to keep in mind after a major wreck.
- Safety is the first and foremost concern. In the case of any injuries, call 911 immediately. If there are no injuries and the vehicles can be moved, get them off the road to a safe place, then call local or state police to report the accident. While you wait for the police to arrive, exchange information (license, registration, and insurance) with the other driver.
- There’s no way to know at this point who will be deemed at fault for the accident, which means you don’t know whose insurance company will be paying for towing (or whether it will be covered by insurance at all). Don’t worry about this, since there’s nothing you can do about it. The important thing is to get the car towed, and then the details can be sorted out later.
- Most auto insurance covers a reasonable cost of towing over a reasonable distance. This means that you may have to cover some of the costs yourself if you want your car towed a long way. If you suspect that it’s totaled, it’s generally smarter to have the car towed to a close location and then figure out your next move when you have more information.
- You may or may not be able to call your preferred towing company (although they must be licensed in the region in which the accident took place to be considered at all). In some cases, the local police department might have a contract with a towing company that they’ll call in, or they might put out a general call for the closest tow truck in the area. Make sure to make any preferences known as soon as possible, because the towing company has the right to demand payment for their services as soon as the car is on the tow truck.
- Once your vehicle is on the tow truck, you have several options. If you don’t specify a location, the car will be taken to an impound lot that the tow company works with. Alternately, you can tell them the name of a repair shop. If you don’t know any repair shops in the area, your insurance company can tell you which shop they prefer or the tow company can recommend a reputable one.
- After your car arrives at its destination, let the insurance company know where it is. That way they can send out an adjuster who can determine whether the car is totaled and tell you what to do next. Make sure to keep your receipts for towing and any storage costs. Your insurance company will need them to reimburse you.