Does car insurance cover towing?

Car insurance covers towing if you're involved in an accident or other insured event.

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If you have a comprehensive or third party property, fire and theft car insurance policy, you should be covered for towing at no extra cost if you're in an accident, but there are limits on where or how far they'll tow your car.

Who offers cover for towing?

ProviderWhat is towing included in?How is it covered?Limits
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Budget Direct

Comprehensive or Third Party Property, Fire and Theft policies
  • Recovery of the car
  • Towing to nearest approved repairer or secure storage
  • Storage costs if the car can't be driven
  • Car towed to nearest storage place or repairer, as nominated by insurer
Youi Logo

Youi

Comprehensive or Third Party Property, Fire and Theft policies

Youi Roadside Assistance

  • Towing to and storage of car in a nearby safe place
  • Road Assist: Max 20km in metro areas and 50km in regional ones
  • Costs not included for cars with a gross vehicle mass over 3.5 tonnes
NRMA Logo

NRMA

Comprehensive Plus or Comprehensive insurance, Third Party Fire & Theft Insurance or Third Party Property Damage policy
  • Towing of car to nearest repairer or safe place
  • Towing to insurer's closest repairer or safe place
  • Only one tow included (they'll pick which one to pay for if multiple tows are required)
AAMI logo

AAMI

Comprehensive car insurance policy

Fire, Theft & Third Party Property Damage; and Third Party Property Damage (but only for damage by uninsured driver claims)

  • Towing of car to nearest insurer-approved repairer, safe place or somewhere else chosen by AAMI
  • One tow included, to nearest repairer or another insurer-approved location
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Suncorp

Applies to Comprehensive, Comprehensive Extras, Comprehensive Advantages and Fire, Theft & Third Party Property Damage cover
  • Towing your car from scene of incident to Suncorp's nearest repairer or somewhere else it agrees to
  • Storage costs if your vehicle can't be driven
  • Only covers the cost of a single tow
  • If you have Fire, Theft & Third Party Property Damage cover this additional cover only applies when the incident is fire or theft or a claim covered under "Damage by uninsured drivers"
  • If you have Third Party Property Damage cover this additional cover only applies if your claim is covered under the additional cover "Damage by uninsured drivers"
Coles car insurance

Coles

Comprehensive, Third Party Property Fire & Theft
  • Towing your vehicle to the nearest partner repairer or agreed-upon safe place
  • Reasonable storage costs
  • No cover for any costs accrued before you've lodged your claim
  • If the repair, storage and returning process ends up costing more than the sum insured, your car will be treated as a total loss and not returned
Virgin money logo

Virgin Money

Comprehensive, Third Party Property, Fire and Theft policies
  • Recovery of the car
  • Towing of the car to the nearest repairer or safe storage
  • Storage costs if the car can't be driven
real insurance

Real Insurance

Comprehensive and Pay As You Drive policies

Third Party Property, Fire and Theft car insurance

  • Covers the reasonable costs of towing a car to the nearest safe place, as well as to an approved repairer
Woolworths logo

Woolworths

Comprehensive and Drive Less Pay Less policies

Third Party Property, Fire and Theft car insurance

  • Reasonable cost of towing the car to the nearest secure place, as well as to an insurer-approved repairer
RAA Logo

RAA

Comprehensive and Third Party Fire and Theft Cover
  • The cost to tow your vehicle to the closest repairer and the cost to store until repairs are undertaken
  • For comprehensive: If you're towing a caravan or trailer when you have an accident, you're covered for the transporting of this to the nearest repairer too
RAC logo

RAC

Comprehensive, Third Party Fire and Theft Car insurance
  • Pay reasonable towing costs for your car (and any caravan or trailer hitched to it), from the accident scene to the insurer's chosen location
  • For Third Party Property Damage cover, towing is only covered if the other driver is at fault (you have to provide the insurer with details about the incident)

Get roadside assistance from $7 a month

Name Product Call-outs (Unlimited/4 per year) Joining Fee Fuel Replacement Locksmith States Available
NRMA Roadside Assistance
Unlimited
No joining fee
$0
Nationwide
From $9.99 per month. 24/7, nationwide coverage available.
Budget Direct Roadside Assistance
Unlimited
No joining fee
$125
Nationwide
15% discount on first year's premium when you buy online and use the code SOLVED15. T&Cs apply.
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Name Product Roadside Assistance Accidental Damage Choice of Repairer Agreed or Market Value
Budget Direct Comprehensive
Optional
Optional
Agreed or Market
Finder's summary: Awarded the 2021 Finder Award for Car Insurance - Value in QLD, SA, TAS, VIC, WA and Car Insurance - Features in NSW, VIC, WA, this policy offers solid coverage at a low cost. Budget Direct's claims service has received a 4.2/5 based on nearly 5,000 customer reviews.

⭐ Current offer: Get 15% discount on first year's premium when you take out a policy online. T&Cs apply.

Who it might be good for: People who want a comprehensive policy without breaking the bank.
Youi Comprehensive
Optional
Agreed or Market
Finder's summary: Youi Comprehensive Car Insurance is one of the few providers to include roadside assistance in its policy. You'll also get access to YouiRewards which gives you discounts on furniture, parking and more. Youi also has a live chat feature on its site to talk through any questions.

Who it might be good for: People over 25 who want comprehensive cover with a focus on customer service.
Qantas Comprehensive
Optional
Optional
Agreed or Market
Finder's summary: You'll be able to choose how comprehensive you want your cover to be with optional extras like choice of repairer and the option of agreed or market value.

⭐ Current offer: Earn Qantas Points for joining and paying your premium. Sign up today and earn up to 20,000 Qantas Points (points awarded will be based on your premium). T&Cs and eligibility apply.

Who it might be good for: People who'd like to earn Qantas Points.
Huddle Black Comprehensive
Agreed or Market
Finder's summary: Huddle's black comprehensive is its cover with highest limits and exclusive benefits. It includes roadside assistance. You can also get up to $2,000 for emergency travel and accommodation and up to $30 million legal liability cover.

Who it might be good for: Someone who wants a 24/7 claims processing.
Coles Comprehensive
Optional
Agreed or Market
Finder's summary: With Coles comprehensive car insurance, you could earn double flybuys points at Coles supermarkets and you can get $10 off your Coles grocery bill every time you redeem 2,000 Flybuys points. If your car is damaged, you could benefit from a one-week turnaround on repairs.

⭐ Current offer: Get 10% off your first year's premium when you take out a policy online. T&Cs apply.

Who it might be good for: Coles customers and Flybuys collectors.
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Is towing included in my car insurance?

Many comprehensive car insurance policies will automatically include towing to the nearest repairer or safe location in the event of an incident. Some plans even include complimentary roadside assistance, which may include towing, though this depends on the state of your car and the specific roadside assistance provider.

Apart from comprehensive policies, certain insurers like Youi, Budget Direct and Coles offer third party property, fire and theft policies with towing costs included.

Always check your policy documents to make sure you know what you're covered for!

Am I covered for towing?

For comprehensive policies, you'll likely be covered for towing in the case of any incident included in your policy (such as accidents or attempted theft) – if it leaves your car in an undrivable condition. For third party fire and theft policies (with towing as a benefit), your car will probably only be towed if the incident was a fire or attempted theft.

Most insurers do not provide a distance limit on towing, but do specify that they will only take you as far as the nearest approved repairer or secure place of storage, like your house. But once again, make sure to read the fine print of your policy details. For example, Suncorp will only cover you for a single tow, even if your vehicle doesn't end up at a repairer.

What should I do if I need a tow following an accident?

It's hard to keep your wits about you when you've just been involved in a crash on the road; you'll probably be quite shaken. But if your car is damaged enough that it can't safely be moved under its own steam, you'll need a tow to get it off the road and have it seen to. To avoid the predatory practices of questionable tow truck operators, here are some tips to keep in mind:

  • Contact your insurer. From a safe place and before agreeing to anything, call up your insurer and find out what they actually cover. Towing costs may not be included in your policy. Either way, your insurer may be able to arrange a tow for you with somebody they trust.
  • Ensure the tow service isn't dodgy. Just because they were the first to show up on the scene doesn't mean they're what you need. Depending on what state you're in, there may be particular identifiers of legitimate businesses. For example, in NSW, all licensed tow trucks will have "TT" as the last 2 characters on their registration. If you can, check their reviews online.
  • Know what you're signing. The only thing you should ever sign from a tow company is a standard towing authority form. Double-check the small print. If the form looks more like a contract or some kind of pamphlet, don't sign it! You have the right to contact anyone you need to before agreeing to the service to make sure it's legitimate. It shouldn't ask for anything more than details about the car and contact information. Keep a copy of whatever you sign.
  • Know where your car is going. Make sure you know who is towing your vehicle and the address where it will end up. This will help prevent it from being "carnapped" by an unscrupulous provider.
  • Empty your car of valuables. If you're able to, remove anything of value from your vehicle. It's very easy to rob things from a wrecked car hooked on the back of a tow truck or stored inside a yard.

Where should I have my car towed?

When getting a tow, you'll need to pick where to have it transported, unless the police request to have it taken in. You can usually pick between a few locations, including your own home, a mechanic's workshop and the towing company's holding yards.

Be careful when having it taken to the towing yard. Depending on your state, you might only have around 2 days before you start accruing expensive storage costs of $40-$60 a day. If there are any delays in dealing with your insurer or arranging repairs, these storage costs can add up quickly.

If you're ever unsure (and it's practical to do so), have your car taken to your own home. Assuming you have somewhere to put it, you won't have to worry about any extra storage fees when it's sitting in your garage or driveway. However, keep in mind that you may have to arrange a second tow to get it repaired. You might have to pick up the bill for that – so talk with your car insurer first and see what they suggest.

Towing regulations in different states

The rules around towing vary depending on where you are in Australia. Some places are highly regulated and some have barely any rules at all. Here's the geographical breakdown:

State/territoryTowing regulations
NSW
  • Fees are regulated
  • Contact anyone you need to before signing an authority form
  • Decide who tows your vehicle and where
  • Tow truck drivers must have an accredited towing certificate. Towing vehicles will have a registration plate with 4 numbers followed by TT, for example, "0357-TT"
  • Tower must provide a complete quote of all fees and charges
Victoria
  • The regions of Melbourne, Geelong and the Mornington Peninsula have a crash allocation system – tow trucks are assigned to particular accidents
  • There are regulated fees in Melbourne and the Mornington Peninsula
  • Standard towing authority forms
  • Decide where your vehicle is towed
  • Accident towing vehicles will have "TOW" in their registration
Tasmania
  • Neither fees nor accident towing practices are regulated
  • A tow roster system operates throughout the state
Queensland
  • There are regulated fees and practices in urban and densely populated regions; this might not be the case elsewhere
  • Fees are capped at a fixed maximum for the first 50km of towing, with the price including 60 minutes of on-the-scene work preparing the vehicle
  • Free storage at the yard for the first 72 hours
  • Tow truck drivers must have an accredited towing certificate
NT
  • No fee regulation
  • Darwin has a crash allocation system; elsewhere you'll have to arrange your own tow
  • Standard towing authority forms
  • Tow truck operators must disclose the towing fee before towing your vehicle
  • Fee negotiation is allowed
WA
  • No fee regulation
  • Companies pay "spotter's fees" to ensure they get there first
  • Long history of dodgy practices
  • Standard towing authority forms
  • Never sign anything that doesn't show the total cost of the service
SA
  • Fees are regulated
  • Crash allocation system in Adelaide; organise it yourself elsewhere
  • Standard towing authority forms
  • Decide where your vehicle is towed
  • Must settle any outstanding fees before you can pick up your car
ACT
  • Neither fees nor towing practices are regulated
  • Arrange your own tow or have the police arrange it
  • A towing roster exists in the territory

Does roadside assistance cover towing?

Yes, in some circumstances. If you buy roadside assistance, whether it's from your insurer or a dedicated roadside assistance provider, towing should be included as part of the service. But there's a catch. Unlike towing provided after an incident on an insurance policy, free towing as part of roadside assistance is usually subject to a couple of restrictions:

  • Distance limits. Budget Direct's roadside assistance will only tow your vehicle for free up to 20km in a metropolitan area or 50km in a rural area.
  • Size limits. Your vehicle has to be under a certain weight and height, usually less than about 3.5-4 tonnes and no more than 3 or so metres high.

Whether roadside assistance is worth it depends on how likely you think your car is to face routine mechanical issues since it won't help with a tow in the event of an accident or fire – you'll need car insurance to be covered for that.

Also, roadside assistance tends to have a limited service area. While you might be covered for accidents Australia-wide, you simply may not be able to get roadside assistance in some parts of the country.

Picture: Getty Images

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