Make sure that you have got authorisation from your insurance company before engaging the services of a tow-truck operator.  Your insurance will not pay for the towing if you do not use an accredited company.  The towing industry is not regulated and many insurance companies have approached and signed on members of two towing organisations :

*   The United Towing Assosiation of South Africa (UTASA) -   and:

*  The South African Towing and Recovery Assosiation (SATRA) -

Members are subject to a code of conduct and stipulated levels of service.  Being involved in an accident is traumatic.  Yet when faced with several tow-truck operators offering to tow your vehicle, making a wrong decision can by very expensive.

Most insurers encourage policy holders to use their dedicated call centres or towing services as a matter of course.  This allows the insurer to make the necessary arrangements quickly and relieves some of the burden on policy holders at the time of an accident.

The reason for this arrangement is that most insurers have negotiated rates with authorised and reputable towing companies.  These negotiated rates minimise costs and ensure a specified level of service.  Normally, if the call centre is contacted, the insured would be fully covered and not incur the cost of towing and the services of an approved tow-truck operator - depending on the policy.

The agreement with service providers also eliminates the possibility of hidden costs.  The use of unauthorised towing service to remove a vehicle from an accident scene could cost tens of thousands of rands in release fees.

Clients could be charged for the initial tow, a second tow - if necessary, recovery, storage at a daily rate and an administration / secretarial charge may be levied.  If an unauthorised towing operator is used, insurance companies limit their liability regarding towing and storage.

Insurance companies encourage policy holders to use authorised towing operators by issuing written reminders, stickers and stipulating details in policy documents.  It is very important for policy holders to read and understand their policies, and take note of telephone numbers and restrictions on their policies.

Here are some useful tips if you need towing services:

* Make sure that you call your insurer's call centre personally to gain authorisation and arrange towing.

* Ensure that you read any documentation before signing.

* Carefully check the inventory of what is in your vehicle before allowing it to be towed away.

* Make sure you have a reference number and sign off with the correct towing company for your vehicle to be towed away.