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Monday, February 9, 2009

UT Tow Truck Operators Incensed Over Mandatory Notification

Here's the story from Standard.NET:
SALT LAKE CITY -- A room full of angry tow truck drivers hoped they put the boot on a bill that would require them to inform insurance companies when they have a vehicle on their lot.

There are two kinds of tows in the state. Public tows include vehicles from accidents or other police calls. Private tows include vehicles illegally parked at apartments or abandoned in parking lots.

House Bill 112, discussed Thursday in the House Transportation Committee, would require the companies to enter the vehicle information from a private tow into an existing state database already used when vehicles are publicly towed.

The problem is that, while towing companies are required to tell the title-owner they have the car, often an insurance company takes ownership of a vehicle during that time.

The insurance company then never gets notified and the vehicle stays on the tow lot for an extended period of time. The holding fees can get so high that they then are more than the value of vehicle.

"We're just saying, allow us the opportunity to find our cars," said Chris Purcell with State Farm Insurance. "If we don't find it, it's our problem for not looking on the database."

But tow truck owners took issue with not being brought in on the bill before it was presented.

"This has kind of blindsided us," said Steve Russell of Salt Lake Valley Towing.

Even if it takes just 5-10 minutes to enter, a few of those a day will start adding up. Towing representatives suggested perhaps being allowed to charge a fee to cover the cost of their time and members of the House Transportation Committee tended to agree.

"There ought to be some kind of adequate compensation for it," said Rep. Brent Wallis, R-Ogden.

The committee declined to take action on the bill, effectively allowing all sides to take a swing at a compromise.

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