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New Poll Lists Cities and States with Worst Towing Practices

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The Property Casualty Insurers Association of America
(PCI) recently unveiled the findings of the 2011 PCI National Towing Survey,
which revealed that the five worst cities for aggressive towing practices are:

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1. Chicago, Ill.

2. Philadelphia, Pa.

3. New York, NY

4. Atlanta, Ga.

5. Houston, Texas

The five worst states for aggressive towing practices
are:

1. Illinois

2. Pennsylvania

3. New York

4. New Jersey

5. California

"Aggressive and unscrupulous towing companies can
make the unpleasant experience of having an auto accident that much
worse," said Bob Passmore, senior director of personal lines for PCI.
"Motorists and their insurers not only face confusing rules to reclaim
their vehicles, but in some cases staggering bills. It’s a no-win situation.
These bills drive up out-of-pocket expenses for consumers and affect auto
insurance costs that they pay."

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The survey found that the No. 1 towing issue consumers
face across the country is skyrocketing and inconsistent charges and fees
associated with towing and storage. Consumers also face a wide range of charges
that can include outrageous items that range from "helper fees" to
"wait time fees."

The National Insurance Crime Bureau reports that claims
of inflated towing or storage bills have increased 57 percent since 2009. In
addition to concerns about charges and fees, complaints related to the
difficult and sometimes nightmarish process of retrieving a vehicle from
a storage facility were common. Many respondents noted that it felt like the
vehicle was being held hostage.

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The poll also revealed that the biggest
problems listed for motorists and insurers are:

1. Towing and storage charges and miscellaneous fees

2. Inconsistent and difficult release process

3. Lack of transparency and communication from towing
companies

4. Access to vehicle for adjustors

Real-life horror stories included:

• A vehicle in Iowa was towed seven miles and the insurer’s
bill was $892, without any storage time.

• Towing companies in Virginia have charged $350 in
administrative fees for letters sent to notify owners that their vehicle has
been towed to a storage facility.

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• A storage facility in Washington, D.C., charged an
insurer $400 per day for large vehicles.

• In 2011, a Chicago woman was hit with a $915 towing bill
after a minor traffic accident. The towing company then charged $100/day for
storage and would not release the vehicle without an in-person cash payment
from the vehicle owner.

 

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