Update: Ontario introduces towing and vehicle storage legislation

Toronto, Ontario — April 15, 2014 — Ontario is taking steps to strengthen consumer protection and further reduce auto insurance rates to regulate the towing and vehicle storage industries.

“We are strengthening consumer protection for drivers involved in traffic collisions or in need of roadside assistance. Drivers should have the confidence that the tow truck operator helping them is reputable and will treat them fairly,” Liberal Minister of Consumer Services Tracy MacCharles stated in a release.

The province intends to introduce legislation, that if passed, would help Ontario’s drivers make informed decisions when getting their vehicle towed or having it held in a storage facility.

The proposed legislation and supporting regulations would require tow truck operators and storage providers to:

  • Have permission from a consumer or someone acting on behalf of the consumer before charging for towing and storage services
  • Publicly post prices and other information, like the operator’s name and contact information
  • Accept credit card payments from consumers
  • Provide an itemized invoice listing the services provided and the total cost.

“This proposed legislation is good news for consumers in Ontario. If passed, it will deliver real results for people who use tow trucks and vehicle storage facilities,” Coteau said in a statement. “As the MPP for Don Valley East I know motorists will appreciate this initiative to enhance consumer protection in our province.”

Ontario is also proposing to include tow trucks in the province’s existing Commercial Vehicle Operator’s Registration system to improve road safety through government monitoring and enforcement measures. The proposed changes and additional oversight would contribute to lower costs in Ontario’s auto insurance system.

In 2010 tow truck operators in Ontario had a collision rate of 19.7 percent, compared to only 1.1 percent for drivers of other vehicles. There are in all roughly 1,200 tow truck operators in Ontario, with well over 3,000 drivers across the province.

John Norris, CIIA Executive Director, says this bill would be welcomed by collision repair shops across the province.

“Collision repair facility owners and managers have complained loudly of outrageous bills and behavior by some tow operators. Those aggressive demands for significant amounts of cash to unhook a car, leads to upset customers, difficulty for shops to obtain re-imbursement from insurers and raises the price for that claim and repair,” Norris says.  “This action by the province is a major step in controlling those within the  towing industry who abuse consumers and collision repair shops.”

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