What happens if your car is damaged during towing?

It's a classic case of insult added to injury: Your car gets towed as a result of a parking violation or accident. Later, you discover damage to your vehicle that clearly occurred during the towing process. What should you do? Will your auto insurance cover the damage? And what's the most efficient way to collect that money?The right coverage
In general, collision coverage covers towing-related damages, according to Progressive Insurance. A collision policy pays for damage caused by objects or other vehicles that collide with or otherwise harm your vehicle.
Note that most collision policies come with a deductible, the amount you must pay out-of-pocket before the insurance company will chip in. If your car sustains $400 worth of damage from the towing mishap and your deductible is $700, your insurance won't pay a penny. But if the amount of damage is $1,000, insurance would kick in after you pay the deductible, and you'd be reimbursed $300.
What to do when you discover the damage
Immediately after you discover damage -- ideally, when you pick up your vehicle from the towing company or impound lot -- check for problems. Progressive recommends looking for:
  • Dents.
  • Scratches.
  • Trouble with the car's alignment.
  • Deflated tires.
Take pictures and take notes. If you can collect witness statements (like a tow truck operator's admission to having scratched your car) or video of the tow truck driver hitting your vehicle, this evidence can help you immensely, according to Progressive.
How to get the towing company to pay up
Your municipality likely has ordinances that govern how tow truck drivers must operate. Note that your town or state likely will not pay for the damage or handle your claim, even if the city ordered your car impounded. Tow truck companies are independent operators.
Some municipalities will allow you to submit claims and other documentation to the city. In Chicago, for example, if a car was damaged while being taken to certain city impound lots, you can submit a claim to the Office of the City Clerk (with repair estimates or bills attached).
In some cases, the towing company itself will pay for the damage. Note that you still may need to notify your insurer, even if the tow truck operator agrees to pay up, according to Progressive.
If the tow truck company won't cooperate or does not believe your claim, you can work through your auto insurance company to collect the damages from the towing company. Your insurer may "subrogate" against the tow truck operator, according to Progressive. This is a legal attempt to collect money -- not only for the damages, but also for your deductible. Subrogation is a complex process that can involve negotiation among many parties, including the tow truck operator, the towing company's insurance company and your own auto insurance company.

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