Being involved in an accident is stressful enough; but then you have to deal with attorneys, personal injuries, insurance calls, and most importantly, repairs and more fees related to storage of the vehicle. Storage fees are usually $50 per day and can add up very fast. It can take up to 14 days to get a police report, and sometimes disputes over who was at fault at the time of the accident can last for even longer periods of time. While all this hassle is happening on top of your daily obligations, the vehicle is sitting in the storage lot- and before you know it, the costs are quickly piling up.
If a car sits in storage for too long, the towing and storage company sell it at an auction. While insurance co mpanies say that most tow operators are honest businesses, sometimes the high storage copsts are due to price gouging and deceptive practices by rogue towing companies.
Storage fees can spiral for a couple of reasons. Sometimes it’s a matter of the fees simply adding up when a car sits on a towing company’s storage lot for a long time. But occasionally, the towering fees is due to price gouging and deceptive practices by rogue towing companies. They drive up costs by charging outrageous fees or making it difficult for people to retrieve their cars.
The Property Casualty Insurers Association of America (PCI) estimated that abusive towing and storage practices cost consumers and insurers $570 million a year in 2012. The average crash-related towing and storage fee in 2010 was $412 per car insurance claim — $228 for towing and $185 for storage, the report says. PCI says the average should be closer to about $150 a vehicle, according to what is the “usual and customary” tow and storage fee per vehicle after an accident. In one case, for example, a Chicago towing company charged a woman $915 to tow her car after a minor accident, followed by $100 a day for storage and refused to release the vehicle without a cash payment from her, in person.
Here are some tips on how to avoid any hassle:
- Carry a collision insurance. This covers the cost to repair your car and the costs of towing and storage after the accident, regardless who was at fault.
- Call your insurance carrier right after the accident. The police will assign a tow truck to take your car. Your insurance can also assign a tow truck to take your car.
- Even if you think you were not at fault and that his insurance should be respoinsible for the damages, call your insurance immediately. Your insurance will pay for the towing, storage, and repair costs. Once the investigation is complete and fault has been determined, your insurance can go after the other driver’s insurer to pay the tab and reimburse you for the collision deductible.
- If you don’t have collision coverage, it is recommended you get your car out of storage as quickly as possible.