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7 ways to avoid predatory tow companies

This post is part of a series sponsored by the IAT Insurance Group.

Companies engaged in infamous tow trucks (sometimes called predatory tow trucks) prey on trucks in areas known to have high crash rates. They may even use nefarious means to facilitate the possibility of accidents. This is the latest scam to affect long haul and move and store trucking.

Case in point: A driver recently suffered serious damage while trying to drive a tractor-trailer under a Chicago bridge where the “low bridge” sign had been suspiciously removed. An annoying tow truck showed up as soon as the accident happened. In a hurry to rectify the driver’s distress and the situation as soon as possible, the driver accepted the towing service without a quote. Soon after, the moving company received a bill for a $75,000 tow move. The service would have cost about $2,500.[1]

Predatory towing scams like this one are happening all over the country, raising concerns among the fleet,[2] They stand out especially in Chicago. The Chicago City Council Commission on Licensing and Consumer Protection says tow truck drivers will rush to the scene of the accident, seize the damaged vehicle, and hold the trucker hostage until it rattles. , passed an ordinance requiring the city to establish a driver’s license for tow exorbitant fees.[3]

Seven Best Practices for Fleet Carriers

Fleets and truck drivers must protect themselves from tow truck companies that operate illegally or unethically. The following best practices provide key guidance for fleets.

  1. Plan your route. Don’t let truckers spread their wings while picking up goods or carrying loads. Proper route planning not only ensures safety by avoiding known and unknown hazards and increases driving efficiency, but also incorporates rest breaks and determines the best route according to the time of day the trucker is on the road. It also helps to Digital route planning tools are available to help with this as well.[4]
  2. Doubt it Tow truck companies standing by at the site when an accident occurs are not normal. Train your driver to keep an eye out for fraud tow trucks waiting in the wings. Prepare drivers before an accident occurs to reduce unnecessary stress. For example, tell them that if a low bridge sign is illegally removed, they may not be responsible for the underpass they just cut. That information should help you think more clearly in these situations.
  3. call the police. Call the scene and request an accident report. If this happens to you or one of your drivers, consult the local police at the scene and choose a reputable local tow company.
  4. Get it in writing. Please ensure that the cost of towing is in writing, with all charges clearly itemized and not unlimited. Avoid verbal agreements at all costs. A signed document with clear pricing is essential to protect your fleet from fraud. Ask for the tow company’s license to operate and, if possible, verify the information before seeking assistance.
  5. put protocols in place for accident response. This includes contacting management or dispatchers immediately, calling the police, and preventing drivers from signing or approving tow trucks without management approval. Providing drivers with a clear protocol in advance greatly reduces the chances of making a mistake when towing is required.
  6. Consider partnering with a tow company. Contracting with national or local tow companies where vehicles are frequently used can help organizations avoid rogue tow trucks. With such contracts already in place, truck drivers can contact these companies immediately, eliminating the need to procure on the spot.
  7. Report to local officials. If your driver or fleet has fallen prey to a suspicious towing incident, please contact your local officials for assistance. Jurisdictions can take regulatory action to help prevent this from happening again.

Towing cost

Even with all these precautions, towing is expensive. Factors such as the weight and size of the truck, towing distance, etc. have a legitimate impact on the price. So fleets should not assume they are dealing with a rogue tow company if they are looking at an expensive quote.

As these scenarios increase, the American Institute of Transportation is asking motor carriers and drivers to participate in data collection on the impact of predatory towing.Find links to quick surveys gentleman.


Have questions about how to mitigate risk? Email This is your chance to see answers to your questions in future blogs.

Chris Parker

[1] Cossack “How much does it cost to tow a semi truck?”

[2] American Truck Association”American Truck Association, Property Insurance Association and Coalition Against Insurance Fraud join forces to tackle tow fraud across America,” April 5, 2021.

[3] Chicago Sun-Times”Aldermen support efforts to corral the ‘Wild West’ of rogue tow truck drivers. ” May 19, 2021.

[4] Freight Wave”Route planning tools help drivers overcome day-to-day frustrations,” April 27, 2022.

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