What is predatory towing, and how to avoid it




In the unfortunate event of a roadside breakdown or vehicle accident, a damaged tractor-trailer may need to be towed or recovered from the scene. If this is the case, be mindful of predatory towing and recovery companies. Unscrupulous towing companies are on the prowl, looking to take advantage of unsuspecting motor carriers and their drivers. They typically approach a driver on the roadside, offering their services, and the result can be costly. If the driver or trucking company is not careful, these predators will charge outrageous amounts for their services—or worse.

According to the “Causes and Countermeasures of Predatory Towing,” research conducted by the American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI), the most common predatory towing practices experienced by motor carriers and insurance companies include:


Call Great West’s claims reporting hotline (800.228.8040) as soon as possible. In the event of a simple roadside breakdown or an accident where the tractor and trailer can be towed from the scene, Great West can help you find a reputable towing service whose rate is fair and consensual. The same goes for accidents where a tow truck cannot simply attach to the truck. This type of accident may require a recovery service, and Great West can also assist with this. Some additional tips:

  • Never sign a tow bill with blank spaces for the rate. Do not let the tower fill in the rate later.
  • Never sign anything unless the tow company has provided a reasonable quote. 
  • Keep the tow company from taking undamaged equipment or cargo away.
  • If the tow is nonconsensual, ask the authorities if they will allow you to call your own tow company.
    You can then call Great West for recommendations.

Note: These lists are not intended to be all-inclusive.


  • Develop an accident reporting procedure and conduct staff training on the changes.

The information in this article is provided as a courtesy of Great West Casualty Company and is part of the Value-Driven® Company program. Value-Driven Company was created to help educate and inform insureds so they can make better decisions, build a culture that values safety, and manage risk more effectively. To see what additional resources Great West Casualty Company can provide for its insureds, please contact your safety representative, or click below to find an agent.

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This material is intended to be a broad overview of the subject matter and is provided for informational purposes only. Great West Casualty Company does not provide legal advice to its insureds, nor does it advise insureds on employment-related issues. Therefore, the subject matter is not intended to serve as legal or employment advice for any issue(s) that may arise in the operations of its insureds. Legal advice should always be sought from the insured’s legal counsel. Great West Casualty Company shall have neither liability nor responsibility to any person or entity with respect to any loss, action, or inaction alleged to be caused directly or indirectly as a result of the information contained herein.