Ontario Strengthens Consumer Protection for Drivers Using Towing and Vehicle Storage Services
New Regulations Will Require Transparency, Payment Options
Ontario has approved new regulations designed to offer consumers additional protection when using tow truck and vehicle storage services.
Based on feedback received from consumers and stakeholders, regulations will come into effect by January 1, 2017, and will ensure tow and storage providers:
- Have permission from the consumer 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 (and not insist on cash only)
- Notify consumers where their vehicle will be towed
- Allow consumers to access their towed vehicles to remove personal property at no charge
- 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.
The province is also taking action to improve the safety of tow trucks and their operators by including tow trucks in the province's existing Commercial Vehicle Operator's Registration system. This change will improve road safety through government monitoring and enforcement measures.
Protecting Ontario consumers is part of the government's plan to build Ontario up. The four-part plan includes investing in people's talents and skills, making the largest investment in public infrastructure in Ontario's history, creating a dynamic, innovative environment where business thrives and building a secure retirement savings plan.
- There are approximately 1,200 tow truck businesses, with 3,000 tow truck drivers in Ontario.
- Sixteen Ontario municipalities currently have by-laws that license towing businesses.
- A vehicle storage facility is a location (building, yard, lot) used to hold or store vehicles after they have been towed (e.g. from the scene of an accident or as a result of vehicle malfunction).
- The new rules are being brought forward as a result of changes made by Bill 15, Fighting Fraud and Reducing Automobile Insurance Rates Act.
“Consumers in need of a tow or roadside assistance in Ontario should have confidence that the tow truck service helping them is reputable, will do the work safely, and will deal with them in an honest and fair way. Our new rules will help drivers make informed decisions and protect their money when getting their vehicle towed or having it held in a storage facility.”
“Ontario’s roads are among the safest in North America and this change to include tow truck operators in the province’s Commercial Vehicle Operator’s Registration program will continue that legacy to improve road safety through effective monitoring and oversight.”