What To Do If Your Car Gets Towed?

When you return to your parking spot and find a space or a different car, your first question or reaction will probably be ‘was my car towed or stolen’?

What would you do if your car is towed? Why was your car towed in the first place?

No one plans or expects to have their car towed and impounded. Here, you will learn what to do if your car gets towed.

Why Was My Car Towed?

Your car can be towed or impounded because of several reasons. Usually, your vehicle can be towed if you:

  • Park illegally: parking illegally can mean your vehicle is blocking a fire hydrant, a handicapped sport, or parked on an ambulance loading zone
  • Parked in a way that obstructs traffic
  • Parked in an area marked “Tow Zone”
  • If you have accumulated unpaid parking tickets
  • Have a driver’s license violation, such as an unlicensed driver or suspended license
  • Driving with an expired car registration over a specified period
  • Abandon your car, for instance, if your car breaks down and you don’t move it for a while, usually after 72 hours
  • Park wrongly during a snow emergency

Besides traffic violations, your car can be towed because of criminal violence or other reasons that police can find reasonable to tow your vehicle.

What To Do If Your Car Is Towed

The only surest way to get your towed car out of the impoundment lot is by paying the impound fee together with presenting the required documentation.

Tow truck hauling a wrecked car away in winter.

The documentation you would require often includes your vehicle identification number (VIN), driver’s license, proof of insurance, and money (in cash) to pay the storage fee.

Note: towing comes at the car owner’s expense, and many impounding lots accept only cash payments. You cannot get your car out of the lot for free.

But before you get the car, you will need to find it first. If you find your car missing from the spot you had parked it, you should do the following:

  • Contact the police (not call 911): Call the local police and give them your vehicle’s information to check if they know its whereabouts
  • While talking to the police, find out where your vehicle was taken so that you can trace it and retrieve it
  • Know why your car was towed: to be able to retrieve the car, you need to establish why the car was towed to help you prepare well
  • Call the impounding lot to know the storage fee and tow charge you owe them and have the necessary money available
  • Have the required documents: you will need your driver’s license, VIN information, vehicle registration information, and insurance card

With proper preparation, the retrieval process should go smoothly, provided that you have all the required documents and money.

Can You Get Your Things Out Of The Car?

Some state laws direct the impound lot to allow low-income individuals to get the things in the car when towed.

The law says that it is for only the things IN the car and not parts of the car, such as battery, radios, or even spare tire attached to the car.

You have to call the lot as soon as you can to avoid getting behind the stipulated time.

What If Your Car Was Towed Wrongfully?

What should you do if you believe that your car was towed wrongfully?

  • Document the scene to the best of your ability: recheck the spot you parked for any signs and take photographs of the spot and the area as proof of where you parked before it was towed
  • Have your parking receipts if you paid for the parking
  • File a complaint with the local law enforcement agency
  • Before driving your car off the impound lot, document the state of the car, take photographs (interior and exterior) and document any damage caused by the tow truck

To get reimbursement for damage, you need to prove that the tow company is responsible for the damages.

Can My Car Be Towed For Not Having Insurance?

It depends.

Many driving violations of traffic laws will get you a ticket, such as driving without a valid insurance coverage.

But, it is at the discretion of the police officer whether your car will be towed. The officer may warn you not to drive your car again without insurance and instruct your car to be towed, or give you a ticket for not having insurance.

Police - young woman with policeman or cop on

Furthermore, if you don’t have valid insurance when your car is towed or impounded, it will be challenging to get your car out of the impound lot.

Do You Need Insurance To Retrieve Your Car From The Impound?

Yes, because one of the documents that you need to show when you want to get your car out of impound is proof of insurance.

The proof of insurance has to be active insurance for the impound to release your car.

Proof of insurance can also help you to use car insurance to pay for any damage caused by the towing or the impound lot.

Does Car Insurance Cover Damage From Towing?

Your car may get damaged when it is being towed or taken to the impound lot.

If the towing company is at fault for damaging your car, it is the company’s responsibility to cover the damage costs.

However, you also could go through your insurance company. If you have a financed car, you have full coverage (liability, comprehensive, and collision) because it is a requirement.

If the damage is due to a covered peril, your insurer could cover the damage costs if your car is damaged during towing.

However, this depends on different insurance companies.

Can Towing Affect My Insurance?

Insurers are afraid of risk. If your vehicle is towed too often, it will affect your insurance because it will categorize you as a high risk. This may increase your premium rates.

Man calling while tow truck picking up his broken car

However, the extent of the effect on your policy will depend on your carrier or driving record.

Final Thoughts

Towing practices, laws, and regulations may differ depending on your location or state. If your car is towed, ensure you contact the proper local authorities to learn the towing practices in the location in which your car was towed.

If your car has been towed for any other reason other than parking-related, you can file a complaint if you have a firm conviction that it was towed wrongly.

Furthermore, once your car is impounded, prepare to have money to pay for towing, storage, and daily administration. If your car is insured, talk to your provider and understand if they can cater to the towing fees and related charges, including damages.