TOWED! Are you covered?

TOWED! Are you covered?

The Press Herald recently reported that the City of Portland has authorized a $15 increase for towing charges – from $70 to $85. In the sample of charges among Maine cities, only Biddeford was more expensive for towing charges clocking in at $90. The article points out, however, that the state police and some communities have no limit on what may be charged.

The common reasons for towing, besides a breakdown, are unpaid parking tickets, and illegal parking such as blocking fire hydrants, driveways or emergency routes. Also, poaching parking spaces in private lots can result in an untimely tow. For scofflaws, the folks who chronically get ticketed but fail to pay their parking fines, settlement can be even more expensive. Are any of these costs covered by your insurance?

Parking tickets are a matter of personal responsibility andare no accident. There is only insurance coverage if your vehicle has brokendown, if it has been in an accident or has been damaged and is eligible as acovered loss such as fire, theft or vandalism.

Be mindful that old and numerous unpaid tickets carry a variety of additional costs besides towing company charges. There are charges for vehicle storage ($25 to $50 per day), payment of all outstanding tickets, settlement of other outstanding and often long forgotten fines for other civil infractions.

For those requiring towing because of a disabled vehicle, many auto insurance policies include coverage for towing charges due to breakdown and some are now including road-side assistance that extends to flat tires, empty gas tanks and opening locked doors.

For a lot of Maine folks, the expectation is that we can park in front of the place in which we intend to do business and, if we’re very persuasive, can talk our way out of a parking ticket. “Honest, I just ran in to donate a kidney.” In most cities, meter maids and men are like ghosts – you never see them even if your meter has just run out of time and the ink is hasn’t even dried. Please don’t give them a hard time; they’re just enforcing the law.

So what can you do to manage this risk? Find a parking garage or lot. Arrive with enough time to find a space with a meter that will take enough money to cover you while you’re gone. And, of course, in some cities, there’s always public transportation or riding a bike.

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