auto transport insurance

Auto Transport Insurance: Everything You Need to Know

In the hustle and bustle of modern life, relocating our vehicles across long distances has become a common necessity. While auto transport services offer convenience and efficiency, they also introduce an element of risk. The possibility of accidents, theft, or damage during transit looms large, casting a shadow over the otherwise seamless process. This is where auto transport insurance steps in, acting as a protective shield against unforeseen financial losses.

Demystifying Auto Transport Insurance: A Shield for Your Vehicle

Auto transport insurance is a specialized form of coverage that safeguards your vehicle during its journey from one location to another. It serves as a financial safety net, shielding you from potential losses arising from unforeseen events, such as accidents, damage, or theft. In essence, it protects your valuable asset against potential risks during the shipping process.

As a vehicle owner, you understand the value and significance attached to your car. Ensuring its safety during the shipping process is of paramount importance. Fortunately, partnering with a reputable auto transport company provides you with the advantage of a dedicated team of professionals who are well-versed in the intricacies of vehicle shipping and are committed to ensuring that you are covered by their comprehensive insurance for every shipment they handle.

The Roles of Carriers and Brokers in Auto Transport Insurance

Before delving further into the intricacies of auto transport insurance, it’s crucial to distinguish between two types of auto transport companies you’ll likely encounter: carriers and brokers.

Carriers are companies that own their fleet of trucks. Your vehicle is shipped on their trucks. Brokers, on the other hand, act as intermediaries between customers and carriers, finding carriers for their customers to ship their vehicles. They do not own any trucks.

The type of company you’re dealing with plays a significant role when inquiring about insurance coverage.

Brokers: Ensuring Adequate Coverage Through Rigorous Vetting

Brokers work to find a trusted carrier to ship your vehicle. They rigorously vet every carrier they partner with to ensure their cargo insurance is adequate. They also ensure the carrier’s insurance policy is active. 

Most carriers have cargo insurance between $150,000 – $350,000 and liability insurance of $1,000,000 or more. When brokers act as intermediaries, they do all this vetting and research for you. They also will be able to provide you with the carrier’s insurance certificate, should you need to file a damage claim. 

Carriers: Understanding Responsibilities and Limitations

Carriers bear responsibility for the cargo on their trailers, which include your vehicle and others. However, their liability is limited. For instance, in the event of an accident, the insurance adjuster determines the actual cash value (ACV) of your vehicle at the time of the incident. The vehicle’s value and the cost to repair or replace it will define the carrier’s liability to reimburse you, the vehicle owner.

Carrier insurance generally excludes what the insurance industry calls, “Acts of God,” typically nature-related events like tornadoes and hurricanes. Damage from such rare events is evaluated case-by-case. Terrorism or civil unrest related damages may be covered, subject to certain qualifications. In such instances, it’s beneficial if vehicle owners have their insurance policy in place.

Navigating the Landscape of Auto Transport Insurance and Gap Coverage

There are three main types of auto transport coverage: customer insurance, carrier insurance, and broker gap coverage.

Customer Insurance: Exploring the Role of Personal Auto Insurance

While customer insurance may not be mandatory for shipping your vehicle, it can offer additional protection. It’s essential to check with your insurance provider to understand the extent of coverage during the transportation process. Often, these policies have limitations when it comes to shipping vehicles, including restrictions on coverage during transit or limitations on the types of vehicles covered.

Carrier Insurance: The Mandatory Shield

Carrier insurance is obligatory for carriers and covers any damage to your car during transit. It serves as the primary layer of protection against financial losses arising from unforeseen events during shipment.

Broker Gap Coverage: Addressing Potential Coverage Gaps

While brokers do not provide insurance, they sometimes offer gap protection coverage to help with types of damage that may not be covered under the carrier’s insurance. This additional coverage can provide peace of mind for vehicle owners who are concerned about types of damage that may not be covered under their carrier’s insurance.

Table summarizing the different types of auto transport insurance and their key features:

Feature Shipping Through Your Dealership Selecting a Broker Yourself
Ease of use Easiest option Requires more research and effort
Choice of carriers Limited to the carriers that the dealership contracts with Access to a wider network of carriers
Transparency May not provide detailed information about the carrier or the shipping process More likely to provide detailed information about the carrier and the shipping process
Potential for lower rates May have negotiated lower rates with carriers due to their volume of shipments May be able to negotiate better rates with carriers than dealerships
Direct connection to the carrier Buyer has direct contact with the carrier, which can be helpful in case of any issues Buyer does not have direct contact with the carrier, but the broker will act as a middleman and step in to assist, should any problems arise
Overall experience May be more convenient, but may not be as flexible or cost-effective Requires more effort, but may offer more flexibility and potentially lower rates

Key Considerations and Tips for Secure Auto Transport

To ensure a smooth and secure auto transport experience, consider the following key points:

  1. Verify Insurance: Always verify the car shipping company’s insurance policy prior to agreeing to the contract. Make sure that the broker has received proof of insurance from your carrier.
  2.  Consult with Your Insurance Company: Depending on your policy, your own auto insurance company may cover your vehicle while it is in transport. Always check to make sure.
  3.  Inspection at Time of Pickup: The auto transport company will conduct a thorough inspection of your vehicle to document any existing damage on the Bill of Lading, which is essentially a report that details the vehicle’s condition at the time of pickup. It is best practice to be present during this inspection. We also suggest that you take pictures and/or videos of your vehicle at all angles.
  4.  Inspection at Time of Delivery/Bill of Lading: Once the vehicle is delivered, another vehicle inspection will be done by the carrier. This will document if any damages have occurred to your vehicle since the time of pickup. It is imperative that you review the Bill of Lading and confirm that everything is accurate before signing it. Should damages occur, you will need the Bill of Lading to accurately reflect this, as it will be used in any damage claim you may submit with the carrier’s insurance company.
  5.  Proactive Communication: Maintain clear and open communication with the auto transport company throughout the entire process. This will help ensure that any concerns or issues are addressed promptly.
  6.  Understand the Claims Process: Familiarize yourself with the claims process for the auto transport company and your insurance provider. This will make it easier to file a claim in case of any damage.
  7.  Seek Additional Coverage if Necessary: If you have a particularly valuable or rare vehicle, consider purchasing additional insurance coverage to protect against potential losses.
  8.  Choose a Reputable Auto Transport Company: When selecting an auto transport company, do your research and choose a reputable company with a proven track record of providing safe and reliable service.
  9.  Read Reviews and Testimonials: Check online reviews and testimonials from previous customers to get an idea of the auto transport company’s reputation and service quality.
  10.  Obtain Written Estimates: Before committing to an auto transport company, obtain several written estimates from auto transport brokers to compare pricing and coverage options.

Conclusion: Safeguarding Your Vehicle with Auto Transport Insurance

Auto transport insurance serves as a safeguard against potential financial losses that could arise from unexpected events during vehicle transport. By understanding the different types of insurance, evaluating the carrier’s insurance coverage, and following these key considerations, you can make informed decisions and ensure a secure and hassle-free auto shipping experience.