New tow truck regulations in Ontario are a year away

Published: December 21, 2015

Updated: July 24, 2018

Author: Luke Jones

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Already approved laws to change regulations for vehicle storage and tow truck companies will not come into effect until deep into 2016. Indeed the regulations aimed at helping to reform the auto insurance market in the province are long awaited, but the new vehicle storage laws will not become actionable until July 1st, 2016, while the new tow truck regulations are more than a year away.

The government in Ontario drew up new regulations earlier in the year and recently sought the feedback of consumers in the form of a survey. While many have responded with enthusiasm to the new regulations, the timeframe to implement them is sure to be a cause of disappointment.

"Currently, when a vehicle has been damaged in an accident, it may be brought to a storage facility after the collision by someone other than the owner, or without the owner's authority," Liberal MPP Laura Albanese told the legislature in October 2014 during a debate on Bill 15. "Those who store vehicles after accidents can begin charging for storage services right away, even though the owner of the vehicle may be unaware of where their car is located and that it is accumulating charges every day. Stores can hold a vehicle and accumulate storage charges for up to 60 days without giving any notice and then still claim a lien for the storage costs."

However, the liberal government in Ontario revealed last week that the laws in question will not be implemented for some time, deep into 2016 in fact.

In September Consumer Services Minister David Orazietti likened tow truck practices to fraud and said the new measures will help customers to reduce their auto insurance premiums. At the moment tow truck companies charge hundreds of dollars to tow a vehicle to a defined location decided by the towing company. Along the way the company will add a per kilometer fee of around $10 per K/M, then there is a storage fee for the length of time the company holds the vehicle, which can be weeks. Through the whole process the consumer will pay multiple hundreds of dollars.

The new reforms will be as such:

  • Payment options provided before a car is towed;
  • Information that towing and vehicle storage businesses should include on invoices;
  • Notification of where a vehicle will be taken for storage;
  • Transparency regarding prices and other information, such as a tow truck business telling consumers when they are getting a financial reward or incentive for towing a vehicle to a particular storage or repair shop.