In 2017, Ontario introduced new tow truck laws to protect customers from excessive towing charges. After the new laws were introduced, CAA South Central Ontario has argued more changes were needed to regulate the tow truck industry. This week, the insurance body has reiterated the need for more regulations to be introduced.
The changes to legislation came into effect on Jan. 1 as part of Ontario’s Fighting Fraud and Reducing Automobile Insurance Rates Act. The bill is designed to protect consumers from unregulated towing companies who charge too much.
Drivers involved in a collision or have general vehicle issue now have the following regulations in place:
- Have permission from the consumer/driver or someone acting on their behalf before towing or storing a vehicle.
- Publicly disclose rates and other information such as the provider’s name and telephone number on tow trucks as well as in places of business.
- Accept credit card payments from consumers.
- Notify consumers where their vehicle will be towed.
- Allow consumers to access their towed vehicles to remove personal property at no charge between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. on all business days.
- Give consumers an itemized invoice listing the services provided and costs before receiving payment.
- Disclose if they are getting a financial incentive for towing a vehicle to a particular vehicle storage facility or repair shop.
In its latest recommendation for more tow truck regulations, CAA South Central Ontario says tow truck drivers should not be able to hook up and take damaged vehicles without a certification, which would be above the driver’s license.
“If you have a Class G driver’s licence, you could go to a tow truck company tomorrow, get some on the job training, and basically have a truck to drive and you could be towing a vehicle,” said Teresa Di Felice, CAA SCO’s assistant vice president of government and community relations. “There really should be some provincial certification requirement to operate a tow truck in Ontario and that would come along with licensing and training requirements.”
Interestingly, there is no specialist driver’s license needed to operate a tow truck as the class system for licenses is based on weight. Many tow trucks are light enough to be operated by a Class G license, Di Felice explained.
“Cars have become more expensive. It becomes important to understand how not to damage a car any further than it already is when you are picking it up,” from a collision scene, said Di Felice.
“In Ontario there is no formal requirement for training for towing,” Di Felice added.