How to Locate Car Shipping Vendors
By CarMovers.com Staff
You've got a household move in the works and, although you've established how to transport your belongings, you are still figuring out how to move your car. There are numerous auto transport companies to choose from, and with this list of tips, we'll help make sure your vehicle(s) arrives safely.
1. Finding a Shipper:
You can find numerous car transportation companies advertised in your local paper, phone book or the Internet. But, as with most things, it's hard to know what kind of service you'll really get just from calling a number. So, it is best to do extensive research by checking that the company is licensed and bonded.
The US Department of Transportation (DOT) licenses and regulates vehicle transport companies, so ask for and check the DOT license number. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) allows you to check carriers by entering their name, DOT license number or MC #. The site will tell you if they have authority to transport "for hire," if they have auto insurance and who their policy is through.
It is also a good idea to ask your moving company, if they can recommend an auto shipper. Often, moving companies have partnerships and you may be able to get a discount by using one of their preferred vendors. Some moving companies also ship cars themselves, though you may pay a higher cost for this convenience.
Don't worry if you can't find an auto vendor in your local area. Auto transport companies will generally have contract carriers, terminals or routes that go through your local area and your vehicle can be dropped off and collected at these locations.
Ask friends or colleagues who have used a car shipping company about their experiences (both good and bad). Do your own investigation of the companies you are looking at to transport your vehicle. It is also wise to check with the Better Business Bureau to find out if there have been complaints against any auto shipper you consider and how these complaints were resolved.
3. Getting a Quote:
The same way you located movers, it is also wise to research five possible vendors and get quotes from three. The price will depend on distance, particulars of pick-up and drop-off locations and other services. Make sure you are clear with your potential vendor about any special conditions they should know about pick-up and delivery. Are there narrow streets involved? You might want to consider a nearby parking lot as an alternative. The main price determiner, however, is the method of transport used.
4. Open vs. Closed:
Open trailers are either partially or fully exposed to the elements and there are a number of different types, from three-car carriers to the large 11-car versions you may see delivering to car lots. An enclosed trailer is protected from the elements, like a mobile garage. This type of trailer typically costs 25-50 percent more than having it shipped on an open trailer.
Before anything is signed, ask the company about the type of car insurance that they offer. A legal carrier is required by law to carry a minimum of $750,000 liability and $5,000 cargo coverage, though most carry more. These minimums are set by DOT and without them, a carrier is not considered legal.
You want to make sure that your vehicle is covered against any damage or theft that may occur during the move. Also, find what kind of deductible you'll face and if the coverage offered is primary coverage or secondary. If it's secondary, your insurance company picks up the tab first, which is a consideration in regard to your rates.
You should always ask to see the insurance certificate no matter who is transporting your car. If your car is to be stored prior to shipping, ask to see the premises. If you use your household mover to do the job, ask whether they are insured to carry your vehicle and how much coverage you will have.
Brokers work with a number of different car shipping companies, but they do not own trailers themselves and depend on the actual carriers they contract with to provide insurance. Likewise, some auto-shipping companies subcontract with agents who actually own the transport vehicles. Always be sure to see the certificate of insurance of the entity actually doing the transporting. Check that the coverage is satisfactory and that the certificate is current.
You may also need to request supplemental insurance, as many companies specifically exclude some items such as loss or damage to personal items left in the vehicle, road damage and glass breakage. The Department of Transportation has ruled that no personal items be left in a vehicle to be shipped.
Getting your car moved may seem a daunting prospect, but with proper research and the right answers to the questions above, you'll feel secure in waving goodbye to your four-wheeled friend, until you meet again at your new home.