Should You Use An Auto Transport Broker?
CarsArrive | Auto shipping
Shipping one of your most valuable assets - your car - can be nerve wracking. You're putting your baby in the hands of someone else to be taken across the country or across the state.
To make things more complicated, there are two types of companies in the vehicle transport business - those who own their equipment, hire their own drivers and contract directly with the vehicle owners; and those who act as go-betweens, between the vehicle owner and the carrier, called brokers.
Which is better? How do you know if a broker is reputable? Can you trust the carrier hired by the broker?
What is a Car Shipping Broker Anyway?
A vehicle shipping broker is a company that puts the shipping of your vehicle out for bids among a group of possible shipping companies. They don't own their own equipment, nor do they employ the drivers. Some brokers simply send out the details of the move and pick the lowest bidder with the closest equipment to where you need your vehicle to be picked up. The more service-focused brokers, with their customers’ best interests in mind, use a select group of carriers and select the best choice for each move to ensure things go well.
Not all brokers, like owner-operator companies, are the same.
Some brokers, like CarsArrive, use a proven stable of fully-vetted, reputable shippers, while others simply put the details of your move out on a common board, take bids and choose the lowest bidder. The contract, as in any vehicle move, is where the details lie, so it's important to carefully read everything in the contract before you sign.
Special Regulation For Brokers
In 2012, new laws went into effect that cover auto transport brokers. The Moving Ahead For Progress In The 21st Century Act,1 signed into law in July 2012, raised the bond auto transport brokers must carry to $75,000 per transport and also requires certification and licensing of brokers by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), which can be revoked if the broker is found to be dishonest or unethical. The law brings new protections to you, the vehicle owner, in that you now can have more confidence when hiring an auto transport company and now have recourse against an unethical or dishonest transport broker.
The law also requires brokers to notify you of exactly how much or how little they are involved in the move. For instance, some owner-operator companies also act as brokers - if you need a last-minute move and they don't have anyone available, the owner-operator company may contract with another company to handle it for them.
In this situation, you pay the original company, but they don't actually handle your vehicle. Under the new law, those companies must disclose how much they are involved before the move happens, so you know exactly how has control over your vehicle.
Other Things To Know About Brokers
Despite the law, though, you still need to be careful when selecting a broker, as opposed to an owner-operator. Some things to watch out for when using a broker include:
- Does the broker carry their own insurance that covers your vehicle? In some cases, vehicle transport brokers do not carry insurance themselves, just the bond.
- Does the broker use a consistent list of reputable companies or do they use a bid board? The lowest bid may not be the best, whether you're using an owner-operator or a broker.
- Some brokers will simply connect you with a carrier who will perform the move for the agreed upon rate. Other brokers, like CarsArrive, provide customer service and updates from beginning to end. Make sure you know exactly which company is managing your move before you sign on the dotted line.
- Who is responsible if something happens to your vehicle? You definitely don't want to get caught in the "it's not my problem" nightmare that can happen when the broker doesn't stand up for you when there's an issue. A good broker will handle any damage claims in house.
The bottom line is this - regardless of whether you use an owner-operator or a broker, you are responsible for who moves your vehicle. The question is whether you would want the cheapest company or the right company moving your vehicle.