Does Car Insurance Cover Towing After an Accident?

Quick Answer

Your car insurance may cover the cost of towing and vehicle storage after your car is damaged, but it will depend on the circumstances of the incident, who is at fault and the coverage you previously opted for.

A blue car is strapped in on top of a tow truck.

Towing and vehicle storage after an accident can be expensive. But you may be able to cover towing and storage costs after an accident with auto insurance.

It will depend on the circumstances of the accident whether these costs fall under your insurance or the responsible party's liability coverage. Here's what to know about how insurance for towing and storage can work.

How Does Towing and Storage Coverage Work?

After an incident resulting in damage to your car, insurance may cover both towing and storage fees. But it will do so under different categories. Towing may be covered under:

  • Roadside assistance coverage: Roadside assistance is a type of coverage you can carry that helps with a variety of roadside aids, including jumping a dead battery, refueling a car that's run out of gas and towing.
  • Comprehensive coverage: If you, for example, hit a deer and have comprehensive coverage on your vehicle, towing will be covered.
  • Collision coverage: Covered accidents may include towing costs.
  • Liability coverage: If someone hits you and your vehicle is badly damaged, their liability coverage should pay for your tow bill. This would be part of your claim with their insurance.

Some providers may require that you have comprehensive or collision coverage on the vehicle before you can add towing coverage.

Towing may also only be covered as a reimbursable expense. This means you have to pay upfront for towing after an accident and then your insurance reimburses you later. There may be limits to how much is covered, sometimes as low as $50.

Storage fees for a vehicle after an accident may be covered as part of a repair claim up to the disclosed limit. Fees in excess of this may be the owner's responsibility.

Storage fees are generally charged daily. It's important to limit the amount of time your vehicle is left in storage to reduce your fees when possible. You may not be reimbursed for additional lot fees by your insurer.

If you are hit by someone without insurance and do not carry an uninsured/underinsured motorist policy yourself, you may be responsible for fees. Carrying adequate coverage on your own vehicle can help make sure that you get towing and storage covered when needed.

Do I Need to Pay Extra for Roadside Assistance?

After a car accident isn't the only time you may need to have your car towed. If you've had a breakdown, flat tire or other issue with your car, a portion of your auto insurance may cover having your vehicle towed to a repair shop.

In many cases, towing is covered under the roadside assistance policy section, and this coverage may be included in your general auto policy. Roadside assistance may also be an add-on you must pay extra for.

Roadside assistance provides more services than just towing, such as refueling and battery jumps, so it is an attractive add-on for many consumers. Plus, it tends to be a low-cost addition of between $5 and $15 per month.

What Towing and Storage Fees Am I Responsible For?

Though you may have some insurance coverage for towing and storage, it likely has limits. There are some fees you should be prepared to pay out of pocket. These include:

  • Towing in excess of mileage or cost limits
  • Storage fees in excess of time limits
  • Fees associated with an at-fault accident
  • Any fees from an accident where you do not have coverage including towing, such as a liability-only policy

You may want to become familiar with towing and storage costs if you happen to be responsible for a portion of them at some point.

The national average cost for a tow trip is $109, according to J.D. Power. Rates average between $2.50 and $7 per mile. These costs tend to be influenced by factors such as:

  • Time of day
  • Weekdays vs. weekends
  • Holidays
  • Surrounding terrain, such as beach driving
  • Vehicle type

Even more than towing, storage fees at a tow yard or body shop can rack up bigger bills, which you may not have explicit coverage for. Vehicles are stored on average for five to six days following an accident. Fees are charged daily and can total up to $450 in those few days.

Find Towing and Storage Coverage for Less

When an accident happens, you may have coverage for some towing and storage costs depending on your insurance policy. Check your policy to see what it includes.

If it's time to shop around for better auto insurance coverage—maybe one that includes higher-quality towing and storage coverage—Experian's auto insurance comparison tool can help you.

When you use the comparison tool, you'll get quotes from over 40 top providers in minutes. Coverage comparison is apples-to-apples with your current policy, so it's easy to see real savings. Consumers who find lower costs average $961 in savings each year.

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