Contact Consumer Protection
Tel: 1300 30 40 54
See all Consumer Protection office locations
Get prepared before being involved in a car accident or roadside breakdown situation. It is hard to have your wits about you when you have been involved in a car accident, particularly if you’re in a busy location and need to get your car off the road.
We reached out to over 6,000 stakeholders about the towing industry and received over 400 responses. You can read a summary of their comments and the recommendations made in the towing consultation report.
It can be a great relief when a tow truck turns up but there are things you need to be aware of ahead of time to avoid being stung financially.
Watch our "Be in the know before you tow" ad.
Be in the know, before you need a tow from ConsumerProtectionWA on Vimeo.
Know what your insurance policy covers. For example, many insurers will only pay the reasonable cost of towing the vehicle from the scene of an incident to the nearest approved repairer.
Check your insurance policy for instructions about what you need to do if you are involved in an accident.
Keep the number of your insurer in your vehicle and your phone in case you have an accident (most insurers have a 24/7 accident service).
The first tow truck on the scene does not have an automatic right to tow your car. You have the right to decide who tows your vehicle and where it is towed to.
You can choose to have your car towed to a repairer, your home, to a storage yard or as instructed by your insurer.
If possible, contact your insurance company before you sign anything as they may be able to organise the tow for you.
If you are unsure, or can’t contact your insurer, you have the right to contact someone to help you to decide.
Having your car towed to your home is an option to consider as it will give you time to talk to your insurer and make decisions without being under pressure.
Towing companies can set their own towing and storage fees as these fees are not regulated in WA. That means it’s really important to confirm the total cost of towing and storage and be sure you are happy with the price and value before signing any agreement or allowing your vehicle to be towed away.
To report an incident on the Main Roads network, please call their Customer Information Centre on 138 138, unless there is a need to phone emergency services.
In the event Main Roads Control Room Operators – who monitor the Main Roads network 24/7 – determine a broken down vehicle is obstructing traffic or in a hazardous location, the vehicle will be removed to ensure safety for all road users.
Main Roads may deploy a tow truck or an Incident Response Service vehicle to assist and relocate the vehicle to a safer location. This service is provided free of charge. Motorists are then able to make their own arrangements, at their own cost to have the vehicle removed from that location to the place where it will be stored, assessed or repaired.
This service applies to broken down vehicles including accident damaged vehicles.
By law, tow truck drivers must give you a completed standard Authority to Tow form to sign before they tow your car after an accident. They must also give you a copy of the signed form and keep a copy for their records for 12 months.
The Authority to Tow form must includes specific information, such as:
Although not required by law, make sure the form includes the total cost of towing and storing your vehicle. You should ask for this to be added before signing.
Tow truck drivers are not allowed to intimidate you or use unfair tactics to get you to sign an Authority to Tow form.
Before signing, make sure you read the Authority to Tow form and any other documents you are given.
The Road Traffic (Vehicles) Regulations 2014 – regulation 219 sets out all the information the tow truck driver's statement must contain.
Don’t sign the form if it has not been filled out or parts of it have been left blank, or if you’re unhappy with the terms and conditions.
Some consumers have been caught out by signing Authority to Tow forms locking them into having their car repaired by a particular repairer or giving lawyers permission to act on their behalf.
If your car is towed to a storage yard tell the tow truck operator your car is not to be repaired without the authorisation of you or your insurer.
If you have a complaint, you may have rights under the Australian Consumer Law (ACL).
Jeremy was involved in an accident. He tried to ring his insurer to find out what he should do but couldn’t get through to speak to anyone. In the meantime, a tow truck turned up and the driver offered to give him a tow. Jeremy agreed, signed an Authority to Tow form without having the chance to read it properly. His car was towed to a storage yard.
Jeremy contacted his insurer to arrange for his car to be moved from the storage yard and repaired. The insurer refused to commence the claims process as it was not willing to pay for the towing and storage costs of $1,900 stating the policy only covered reasonable towing and storage costs.
The towing company refused to release the car until the fees were paid in full. After four days of trying to negotiate, Jeremy felt he had no choice but to pay in full given the mounting $80 per day storage costs. Jeremy reluctantly paid the towing company and the insurer later agreed to pay half of his costs.
Rhonda was involved in an accident, but was not at-fault. A tow truck turned up and the driver offered to give her a tow. Rhonda signed an Authority to Tow form and other documents but didn’t have the chance to read them properly.
Rhonda later found out she had also signed a document that gave a lawyer permission to act on her behalf, to sue the at-fault driver.
The lawyer took the at-fault driver to court and tried to charge the victim more than $10,000 for $4,300 worth of repair work.
Fact sheet contains all these tips. Print it out and keep it handy in your vehicle!
You can lodge a complaint with Consumer Protection.