Progressive Roadside Assistance Won’t Tow My Car After It Caught Fire

Matthew and his family were having a great day in the country until their car caught fire. First they noticed an odd smell…and then the smoke and flames. Eventually the fire department showed up, but their insurance company, Progressive, wouldn’t tow the car because the damage was caused by a fire. Sure, a fire caused by an electrical problem with the car.

After spending a great day with the family at a farm we needed to head the 42 miles home. No more than two miles up the road my Fiance and children complained of a smell in the car. I downplayed the smell and kept driving our 2008 GMC Acadia. That was until the headliner was billowing smoke and flames.

I immediately pulled over and we got the children out of the car. We had to argue our exact location because the Fire Department jurisdiction varied depending on whatever side of the road we were on. Eventually the FD arrived (after the fire burnt a hole through our roof). We had our three children in the extremely hot Florida sun with no shade for almost 30 minutes. After things settled down the FD allowed us to put the children in the fire truck to cool off. My fiance called Progressive for an emergency tow.

Denied. We were denied a tow and they refused to send a tow truck because it was “due to a fire.” The fire started from the driver’s side visor mirror light as it shorted out it caught the headliner on fire.

We personally paid for a 42 mile tow back to our home, but while on the way I googled progressive’s towing policy. In it they will provide a tow due to “mechanical/electrical breakdown.” Apparently if your electrical breakdown causes a fire you’re better off to call and say your vehicle broke down.

It sounds like Matthew has roadside assistance from Progressive as part of his plan: he wasn’t calling for a tow based on just having comprehensive coverage. Indeed, the roadside assistance covers the things you would normally call AAA for that don’t involve an accident or other catastrophic event. Maybe if he had called to start his claim, or contacted the dealer or body shop where he planned to take send the car to repair the damage.

In Progressive’s defense, the roadside assistance kicks in when the vehicle is “disabled.” It sounds like the car was still perfectly drivable except for the fire and smoke damage, the hole in the roof, and there’s probably some water inside from putting out the fire. And whatever electrical problem caused the fire. Totally drivable other than that, though!

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