Task Force Announces Support for Proposed Chicago Towing Ordinance

Truck being towed
"Drivers have little recourse to dispute inflated tow bills and are forced to pay them immediately," the coalition's letter to several Chicago aldermen says. (Getty Images)

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A trucking industry and insurance coalition against predatory towing company practices has sent a letter of support to several Chicago aldermen who are leading an effort to revise a city ordinance that would create a first-ever license for tow truck operators.

The ordinance, approved May 19 by a city council Committee on License and Consumer Protection, calls for the city to require a $250 license for every truck tow truck operators’ use, license and the locations where vehicles they tow are stored, according to a story by the Chicago Sun Times.

“On behalf of the American Trucking Associations, the Illinois Trucking Association, the Coalition Against Insurance Fraud and the American Property and Casualty Insurance Association, I urge you to vote in favor of towing ordinance reform,” said the May 4 letter, signed by leaders of the trucking and insurance coalition. “Our organizations have formed a coalition, along with state trucking associations, to protect drivers from unscrupulous and aggressive towing companies who prey on vulnerable individuals and large commercial trucks in their worst moments.”

The coalition letter noted that for too long the towing industry has been underregulated and that in the absence of government oversight, predatory towing companies have taken advantage of drivers by towing their vehicles without permission, charging exorbitant fees for their services and holding drivers’ cars and trucks hostage until the bill is paid.

“Drivers have little recourse to dispute inflated tow bills and are forced to pay them immediately to regain possession of their tow fees that snowball the longer a car is stuck in a towing storage facility,” the letter said.



Ryan Erickson, senior vice president at McGriff Insurance Services and chairman of ATA’s Towing Abuse Task Force, said the Chicago ordinance would provide funding for the city to manage and monitor the towing industry that has had no oversight.

“The coalition partners believe that this is big step in the right direction in excluding bad actors from operating within the city of Chicago,” Erickson told Transport Topics.

Erickson said the coalition is planning to pursue a best practices doctrine for the towing industry, and to seek state legislation in upcoming months to help trucking companies avoid fraudulent towing practices.

The towing coalition announced in April that its members plan to tackle two of trucking’s biggest problems — towing fraud and staged accidents.

In a statement, the coalition said its recent survey of nearly 200 motor carriers found that 77% of respondents cited law enforcement referrals at crash scenes as problematic when selecting a towing company, and 70% reported they faced serious issues getting their cargo released after a tow.

ATA Chairman Sherri Garner Brumbaugh, who is president of Findlay, Ohio-based Garner Transportation Group, said that motor carriers are increasingly concerned with the impact of predatory towing and staged accidents that are hurting their ability to conduct business.

“By joining with the Coalition Against Insurance Fraud, we are confident we can put an end to these unscrupulous and unethical practices,” Garner Brumbaugh said.

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