Insurance Risk Services of Georgia (IRSG) was requested to complete an Insurance Risk Assessment on Georgia’s towing industry for transportation insurance carriers because Georgia had the highest number of towing-related insurance claims in the U.S. for the several years. This assessment found 78% of Georgia tow providers operate illegally, and Atlanta’s rate is higher at 87%. As a result, insurance carriers are pulling out of the tow industry or placing language into policies that change coverages and place policy restrictions on tow providers from towing specialty and high-end vehicles due to high repair/replacement costs.
Roadside assistance companies provide roadside dispatching and payment towing services to insurance, automotive manufacturers, motor-clubs, and shops. The risk assessment found these roadside companies, who are making a profit for their services, are exposing Georgia motorists to extreme financial risk with the use of tow providers that fail to meet legal standards and training. Roadside companies ignore legal mandates required for towing companies by using unqualified companies and in some cases, conduct illegal activity such as picking up vehicles unattended (auto-theft). Most Atlanta tow companies have no concept of determining the rates needed to cover the required expenses to operate legally. Roadside dispatch companies say the money is with the call volume, but this does not cover the labor clock. Roadside assistance does this to maximize profits and then hide behind vendor contracts that shield the liability and accountability. When vehicle damages occur, the motorist is left to deal with the problem with the tow provider and the insurance company of the motorist. Complaints have been constantly made for years with dealerships, the BBB, and various state and federal agencies with no action.
With Georgia tow operators failing to meet legal requirements, insurance adjusters are denying tow-related claims for various legal reasons, causing motorists to face financial risk and hardship. Statistics show the approval rate for Georgia tow-related insurance claims at 22%, and the average time to process a commercial transportation claim is 143 days from the date of filing and then the settlement is usually a fraction of the claim.
Roadside assistance dispatchers often provide motorists with inaccurate information about services, coverage, and limits. Motorists tend to believe once a request is made, service is dispatched. False! Roadside dispatchers must find a tow provider to accept the job for the rate they are willing to pay. This can take hours and often, does not happen. Leaving a motorist with the false belief that service is on the way.
Roadside assistance companies pay about $33 per tow hook-up. This does not cover the operational costs for a legally compliant tow company operating in Atlanta. According to national research data, the cost to run a tow truck in Atlanta is $79 per truck hour. Vehicle type, problem, equipment, and labor all factor in determining the cost. Roadside assistance tries to pay one service rate and ignore everything else like labor, equipment, and wait-time, leaving motorists with a rude surprise after waiting a few hours only to find the tow provider cannot complete the service because the wrong equipment was dispatched or labor and equipment are needed that are not financially covered. Don’t look for payment from Roadside Assistance, because OCGA 40-53-4 places the financial responsibility with the motorist/vehicle owner and no one else.
Research your needs, get educated about needed towing equipment for your vehicle, if you don’t have it, you will pay a tow provider to supply it. Perform due diligence, look for tow providers that specialize in your needed situation. This will save you time and money. When using roadside assistance, be cautious if they request a payment, they are adding their profit on top of the actual cost of service. If your vehicle is antique, specialty or valued over $75,000, forget roadside assistance (because the tow provider will not have the insurance). Hire a reputable tow company that has equipment and training that specializes in your situation (parking garage, missing tire, etc.). If a tow operator arrives and uses chains, stop them immediately and get a different tow provider because chains will damage the vehicle at the owner’s expense.