You’re out of town and happen to park your rental car in the wrong spot—it happens, right? You return to find that your rental car has been towed. So now what?
3 Steps to Take If Your Rental Car Gets Towed
Notify the rental car company
This situation is not like getting a speeding ticket or getting a parking ticket in a rental car. In those cases, you can take care of your mistake without the rental car company ever becoming the wiser. The rental company owns the vehicle, after all. When a car is towed, only the owner can have the car released. That means you need to get your car rental company in the loop. That way, it can deal with the impounded car—and ideally, do it the same day.
If the car sits for days in the tow lot, the fees can add up fast. Those fees will be passed on to you, along with a penalty charge to cover the rental car company’s troubles. Those could snowball into additional fees if you can’t return the car on time; not to mention charges for any damages that may have resulted from the towing.
Long story short: Don’t procrastinate; just contact the rental car company as soon as possible.
Check your rental agreement
When you picked up the rental car, you received a copy of the rental agreement. Hopefully you didn’t shove it in the car’s glove compartment, or you won’t be able to access it now.
But if, by chance, you tucked it into your pocket or a bag, get it out and take a look. The verbiage in the agreement will lay it out: No matter which additional insurance policies you might have bought, you’re on the hook for any tickets or fines you encounter through your own mistakes while driving the car.
Note: It’s best to just say ‘mea culpa’ and pay what you owe. If you blow off any tickets or fines that you incur while traveling, the car rental agency will connect the fines back to you — along with a hefty administrative surcharge.
Consider your backup resources
As for the other possible charges related to car’s impoundment, you might have no recourse there either. Any CDW (Collision Damage Waiver) insurance from the car rental company typically won’t help you, since it is meant to cover costs for damages to the car itself. Similarly, your AAA membership will not be of much help—membershiip can help when you need to have car towed or repaired, but it can’t liberate an impounded one.
Still, there are other forms of protection that could possibly help. It’s possible that you could find help from the roadside assistance plan offered by car rental company, your own auto insurance provider, or the credit card that you used to pay for the rental. To be sure about where you stand, call your insurance provider and credit card and ask if your associated roadside assistance plans cover any of the expenses that would be associated with a rental car that has been impounded.
But bottom line, your best bet is to stay on the car rental company to get the car released from the tow yard—and fast—to mitigate any costs and get you on your way again.