ICBC Builds Deeper Understanding and Appreciation for Towing Industry

It sounds easy—just hitch up and go—but there’s a lot more to the towing industry than meets the eye.  Over the years, vehicles have become a lot more complex and towing practices have had to evolve as well. Recently, Kathy Parslow, ICBC’s vice-president of claims customer and material damage services, spent an afternoon with Mitchell Martin of Mitchell’s Towing in North Vancouver to learn more about the latest trends affecting the towing industry.

Having the right equipment for the job and understanding the demands on tow operators is important to Parslow—particularly on the topic of dollies—so she visited Mitchell to view a demonstration of a tow job with and without the use of dollies.

One tow truck was set up in front of a front-wheel-drive Chevy Spark while another was set up in front of an all-wheel-drive BMW. As the demonstration began, it soon became evident that the tow operator loading the BMW, which as an all-wheel-drive model requires dollies for towing, had more work to do.

With a self-loader wheel lift truck—utilizing self-loading wheel lift trucks can save two minutes from the conventional L-arm style—the Spark’s operator made quick work of loading it up and strapping down the front wheels, installing secondary safety chains and lights, before driving off within six minutes. The operator of the all-wheel-drive BMW loaded the rear axle quickly but then had to spend an additional eight minutes unloading the dolly from the truck, setting it up, and strapping down the front axle prior to transport. This didn’t take into account the time it also took him to reverse the process on the other end. Currently, ICBC does not have a specific billing line item in their Towing and Storage Rate Payment Schedule for when towers are required to use dollies and invoice for their use.

Parslow’s recent visit signalled a broader shift from ICBC to be more actively engaged in the industries of its business partners and the Automotive Retailer’s Association. Through ICBC’s Towing Liaison Committee, they’ve been able to make changes to support its business partners, and continue to look at ways to refine their programs.

“I certainly appreciated the opportunity to have an up-close look at the demands of an evolving industry,  said Parslow. “I personally look forward to exploring ways we can better support our partners to the benefit of all B.C. drivers.”