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Ontario Towing & Storage Regulations

Ontario drivers are now better protected from towing and storage fraud

Being in a collision is stressful. Having your vehicle safely towed and stored shouldn’t be. Most tow truck drivers and storage operators are professionals who help those needing roadside assistance; unfortunately, a few bad actors have taken advantage of people in this vulnerable situation. Some people who have been in a collision have been pressured to use the repair shop that the tow truck driver recommended instead of the facility of their choice. Others have been forced to sign a blank work order. Oversight of Ontario’s towing and storage industry is long overdue.

IBC and its member insurance companies have been working with the Ontario government to provide better protection for consumers in light of this fraud risk. On January 1, 2024, the province implemented substantial changes to the towing and vehicle storage industry to make roads and highways safer for drivers, reduce costs and tackle criminal activity.

The new provincial legislation provides a host of strong, modernized rules to protect your personal security and your wallet. Here are some of the highlights:

  • Tow and storage operators must be certified by the province. This means they are subject to a new code of conduct (see the end of this article for details). IBC recommends that consumers check that the tow operator’s name and certificate number on the tow truck match the documentation filed with the government, which will be available online next year.

  • The legislation applies consistent rules to all tow and storage operators in Ontario. Previously, only some municipalities regulated towing and storage through local by-laws, all of which were different and offered inconsistent levels of protection.

  • Consumers can submit complaints about tow and storage operators who violate the new regulations through the Government of Ontario’s website.

These new regulations are an important step toward reducing fraud in the insurance system and making auto insurance more affordable for everyone.

To keep your consumer rights top of mind in a roadside emergency, download IBC’s “Know Your Tow” card and keep it in your vehicle at all times.

Details of consumer rights and tow truck operators’ code of conduct effective January 1, 2024

Consumers in Ontario have the following rights when requesting or receiving towing services. As of January 1, consumers can:

  • Decide who tows their vehicle and where it is towed to;

  • Receive and review the “Consent to Tow” form and “Maximum Rate Schedule” before towing begins (IBC recommends that you do not sign a blank form);

  • Receive an unaltered copy of the signed “Consent to Tow” form;

  • Receive an itemized invoice before paying and a receipt when they pay;

  • Choose the payment method, including credit, debit and contactless payment from their phone;

  • Contact the Ministry of Transportation if they have any concerns about the towing service they received or the conduct of the tow truck driver or tow operator; and

  • Permit their auto insurer representative to engage directly with towing and storage operators to help expedite the claim process. The insurance representative will have the right to consent to towing services, access vehicles and request their release.

These new rules also include obligations for tow truck drivers and tow operators. As of January 1, they must:

  • Notify the vehicle owner if the vehicle is taken to a location that is different from the one the owner specified;

  • Not charge more than the rates published on the Government of Ontario’s website or in the regulations to the Towing and Storage Safety and Enforcement Act, 2021;

  • Accept multiple forms of payment;

  • Not solicit vehicle owners to consent to other services, including vehicle storage services;

  • Not refer vehicle owners to any medical or legal services, and refer them to another towing, vehicle storage or repair business only on the owner’s request; and

  • Disclose any interest they have or benefit they may receive from a referral at the time of making the referral.

 As part of the Towing and Storage Safety and Enforcement Act, 2021, the government implemented the following code of conduct. As of January 1, 2024, tow operators, tow truck drivers and vehicle storage operators must: 

  1. Act with professionalism, integrity, courtesy, good faith and fairness toward the public and each other;

  2. Meet the standards of learning, competence and conduct that are appropriate for the services they provide and only undertake work that they are competent to perform by virtue of their knowledge and experience;

  3. Regard their duty to public safety as paramount;

  4. Comply with all applicable laws where they provide their services;

  5. Honestly and accurately represent and advertise their services; and

  6. Adhere to this code of conduct and advise the Director of any act or omission of anyone that they believe to be contrary to this code.