How does car insurance cover towing?
Make sure you have a tow when you need it.
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Getting stranded without your car is a highly stressful situation, but knowing you have a tow available in case of an accident can be a big relief. If you have a car insurance policy, you should be covered for it at no extra cost in the event of a covered accident, fire or theft, but there may be limits on where or how far they'll take your car. We've put together this guide to help you find out if you're already covered for towing or, if not, how to get it.
Who offers cover for towing?
Is towing included in my car insurance?
Many comprehensive car insurance policies will automatically include towing to the nearest repairer or safe location if an incident occurs. Some plans will even include complimentary roadside assistance, which may result in a tow depending on the state of your car and the particulars of the roadside assistance.
Apart from comprehensive policies, certain insurers like Youi, Budget Direct and Coles offer third party fire and theft policies which have towing costs included. Always check your policy documents to make sure you know what you're covered for.
How 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 undriveable state or far away. For third party fire and theft policies with included towing, your car will probably only be towed if the incident was a fire or attempted theft.
When you've been in an accident or your car needs a tow, you should always call up your provider first. As part of lodging your claim, they may arrange a tow on your behalf. In the event that they leave it up to you to arrange, it's still important that you've called them up to get their advice on what they may or may not cover, and also so that they can assist you in finding an accredited tower near your location so you can be reimbursed.
Most insurers do not provide a distance limit on towing, but do specify that they will only take you as far as the nearest repairer they approve or secure place of storage, like your house. But once again, make sure to check 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.
Does roadside assistance cover towing?
Yes, in some circumstances. If you obtain roadside assistance, whether it's from your insurer or a dedicated roadside assistance provider, towing should be included as part of the service.
However, 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 15km in a metropolitan area or 50km in a country area. Standalone roadside assistance from RAC offers free towing anywhere from 10km to 300km, depending on whether you're in a metro or country area and which tier you sign up to.
- 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.
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