NICB Praises Florida’s New Law on Predatory Tow Truck Practices

April 2, 2024

The National Insurance Crime Bureau is hailing a new Florida law that aims to deter predatory tow-truck practices and limit the fees that tow companies can charge.

House Bill 179 was signed by the governor in March and it will take effect July 1, addressing a problem that has grown in Florida and other states in recent years.

“Predatory towing places significant financial burdens on unsuspecting vehicle owners as hidden towing fees leaves individuals with an unexpected and hefty expense,” Eric De Campos, senior director of strategy, policy and government affairs for NICB, said in a news release.

DeCampos and other supporters of the bill have said that law enforcement agencies have reported that some predatory towing firms have swooped in after auto accidents and have charged as much as $10,000 for a single tow. Others have placed liens on cars and sold off the vehicles quickly, before owners could pay the fees, bill advocates have said.

The law will:

  • Require counties, cities and the Florida Highway Patrol to post their maximum allowed towing and storage fees on their websites; they also must establish a process for investigating complaints on fees that are higher than those maximum rates.
  • Increase the minimum time frame allowed before a towed vehicle may be sold.
  • Require tow companies to accept additional forms of payment, and will make a number of other changes to the rules.

“Upon receiving a copy of a certificate giving notice of the posting of a bond in the required amount and directing the release of the vehicle or vessel, a towing-storage operator must release or return the vehicle or vessel to the party that posted the bond,” the bill reads.

HB 179 was sponsored in part by Rep. Melony Bell in the House, and by Sen. Keith Perry in the Senate. The full bill can be seen here. A legislative analysis is here.

At least four other states have approved legislation this year that would regulate towing firms or would require more transparency on fees, a NICB official said:

  • Virginia HB 1073 – Prohibits towing companies from soliciting vehicles owners at the scene of an accident after police have initiated a tow (sent to governor).
  • Virginia SB 94 – Prohibits tow firms from recruiting others to solicit accident scene victims on the tower’s behalf (sent to governor).
  • Utah HB 204 – Prohibits a tow company from charging towing and storage fees until the tow has been reported to the Motor Vehicle Division (enacted).
  • Kentucky SB 107 – Requires towers to post their rate sheet with the nearest Kentucky State Police post and establishes that a tower would be removed from the Kentucky State Police’s wrecker for noncompliance (sent to governor).

Arizona lawmakers also introduced HB 2269 this year, which would require a towing firm to register with the state Department of Public Safety. Last year, Virginia’s legislative body approved a law that now prohibits tow truck operators from refusing to allow the owner of a towed vehicle, upon proof of ownership, to access and remove any personal items from the vehicle without paying any fee.

Topics Florida Auto Legislation Virginia Kentucky

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