It’s everyone’s worst nightmare. You’ve just been involved in a car accident, and after making sure that everyone is OK, exchanging details with anyone else involved, and possibly calling the police, you realise that your car is not drivable and is going to need to be towed.
Whether or not you will have to pay for the cost of towing will depend on your situation.
Who pays for towing if I am at fault?
If you have comprehensive car insurance, the cost of towing will usually be covered by your insurance policy. Of course, you will have to pay the insurance excess, but after that, the cost of towing should be included in the cost of repairs.
If you have third party fire and theft insurance, you’re out of luck if the accident is your fault. You’ll have to pay for the cost of towing your vehicle out of your own pocket.
Obviously, if you have no car insurance, you won’t be covered for anything, and you will have to pay for repairs to your car and the other car if the accident was your fault.
Who pays for towing if someone else is at fault?
If someone else is at fault and they have either comprehensive or third-party fire and theft insurance, then you won’t have to pay for towing. The other person’s insurance will cover the cost of towing your car.
If the other person is at fault and they don’t have insurance, but you can identify them (that is, you have taken note of their name, driver’s licence information and car registration number), then most insurance companies will cover you for towing and repairs.
If you can’t identify the other party, then your insurance should still cover you for towing, but you will have to pay an excess.
Other situations where your car may need towing
Your car insurance will cover you for the cost of towing if you are involved in an accident, but in most cases, it won’t cover you if your car breaks down and needs to be towed to a repair shop.
If you are a member of your state’s motoring club, such as the RACQ, NRMA or RACV, your membership may cover the cost of having your vehicle towed to the nearest repair shop. Most of these clubs will cover you for towing up to 20km from the place where the breakdown occurs, in metropolitan areas.
If you have the equivalent of a ‘premium’ membership with one of these clubs, you may find that you are covered for the cost of towing for up to 50km in metropolitan areas, and up to 100km in remote areas. This type of insurance is definitely worthwhile if you are going to take your vehicle off-road or you live in a remote area.