Canadian Underwriter

Ontario Trucking Association to investigate roadside towing charges of heavy-duty recovery companies

January 27, 2017   by Canadian Underwriter

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The passing of the Fighting Fraud and Reducing Automobile Insurance Rates Act, 2014 has fuelled plans by the Ontario Trucking Association to investigate if roadside towing charges by heavy-duty recovery firms reflect the rates officially advertised on their websites.

Tow truck driver securely strapping a wrecked car in preparation for towing it.OTA will be asking members to send it scans of heavy-duty recovery invoices, including a description of the service paid for, received in 2016 and so far in 2017, notes a news flash issued Thursday by the association.

“OTA will then do a comparison between geographical regions, types of services provided and posted heavy-duty recovery rates,” the association reports.

It will continue to collect heavy-duty recovery invoices throughout 2017 “so-year-over comparisons can be examined,” it adds.

OTA will be asking the Ontario Recovery Group (ORG) – a member association that seeks to develop and promote professional standards and enhance the image of the heavy towing and recovery industry – for assistance during the process.

With assistance from the ORG, OTA has had some success in the past “in assisting member carriers who received inflated recovery invoices,” the news flash notes.

“The passing of Bill 15 provides OTA with a new opportunity to assist OTA members in dealing with unfair heavy-duty recovery bills received in the province,” says OTA president Stephen Laskowski.

The intention behind the newly announced investigation is to explore whether or not the actual bills that heavy-duty recovery firms charge at roadside are a true reflection of the towing rates that are listed on their websites, Laskowski states.

Ontario tabled new rules Jan. 1 for towing and vehicle storage services in response to complaints from passenger and commercial vehicle operators over towing bills and, it has been reported, intimidating roadside practices by some in the recovery industry.

Among other things, OTA reports that the new act requires tow and storage providers in the province to publicly disclose recovery rates.

Related: Ontario Liberals revive bill to cut auto insurance rates and curb towing costs 

OTA applauded provincial government efforts to champion Bill 15 and help “vehicle owners gain some legal leverage over unscrupulous recovery operators,” says Laskowski.

Heavy-duty recovery rates and service levels have historically been a contentious issue between carriers and a small percentage of heavy-duty recovery companies, OTA points out in the news flash.

“We expect to discover there are no issues with the vast majority of heavy-duty recovery companies,” Laskowski emphasizes. “But, just like in any other sector, it only takes a few bad apples to reflect poorly on an entire industry,” he points out.

“If we can identify abnormalities among certain regions, this will assist OTA in holding informed discussions with the Ontario Provincial Police, Ministry of Government and Consumer Services and the Ministry of Transportation,” Laskowski adds.

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